Nov 29 2017

Universities Mine Twitter to Troubleshoot Tech, Support Students

By monitoring the social media platform, higher ed leaders can react to early warning signs.

Twitter is often stigmatized as a haven for internet trolls and fake news. But with 21 percent of U.S. adults on Twitter, the social media platform can be a great tool for university outreach and customer service.

Monitoring tweets about university services can act as an early warning sign of problems that will soon need to be addressed. At the University of Georgia, a large number of mean tweets about the state of the campus Wi-Fi actually prompted the university to roll out an infrastructure upgrade, Campus Technology reports.

Arizona State University, which recently launched a truly innovative 24/7 year-round help desk, regularly monitors tweets that mention “ASU” and “Wi-Fi” to quickly connect students with IT support.

Monitoring what students are saying can give you a heads-up even sooner than some monitoring tools attached to the infrastructure,” says Eric Dover, ASU’s help desk director, in the Campus Technology article.

Troubleshooting technology isn’t the only benefit of monitoring Twitter. A study from the University of California, Los Angeles monitored the tweets of first-year students to investigate their stress levels.

After mining the tweets for sentiment (positive, negative, neutral) and emotion (anger, fear, love or happiness), researchers were then able to correlate levels of stress with the types of tweets students sent. UCLA researchers found that monitoring social media can help indicate early warning signs of emotional distress.

“The ability to use real-time social media data to provide health surveillance has a significant public health application,” reads the study’s conclusion. “The results of this study suggest that sentiment and emotions expressed in the tweets have the potential to provide real-time monitoring of stress level and emotional well-being in college students.”

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Best Practices for Setting Up Social Media Monitoring

Whether a university is looking to offer additional IT support or keep an eye on student stress levels, mining tweets for relevant information can seem daunting.

ASU has used automation to make sure the tweets they respond to are actually pertinent to them. Campus Technology reports that the IT staff uses business intelligence software to filter tweets that mention ASU Wi-Fi troubles based on their location. A bot then sends the tweet to the relevant staff so that they can connect the student with the help desk.

For universities without help desks to the caliber of ASU, embracing the tools that social media professionals use can be an easy way to follow keywords based on location. Tools such as Keyhole and Hootsuite are helpful for keeping track of certain topics, reports Social Media Today.

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