As the manager of a rather robust social media community (currently my organization hosts over 200 Facebook pages alone), I often struggle with identifying what our audience actually wants. When people talk about my agency, what are they really saying?
I have recently become re-acquainted with the program NodeXL. I was first introduced to this lovely (and FREE!) program back in the fall of 2012 when I took my first class on social network analysis during grad school.
First, for those who are unaware, social network analysis is a rather new field of study that has gained popularity since the mid-1990’s. Although it is not as old as the academic field of, say, psychology, it is incredibly relevant in our increasingly connected world. Thus, when I found out that my Georgetown’s Communication, Culture, and Technology program offered a class on it, I jumped at the chance to learn more.
After a semester of learning concepts and equations, I have to say that SNA really did change my life. Learning about bridges, nodes, and small worlds has led me to truly look at the world in a different light.
But how to relate this to what I do on a daily basis? How was I to go to my boss and justify SNA to someone who isn’t really all that immersed in the world of Facebook and Twitter.
And this is where NodeXL comes in. If you have Microsoft’s Excel, you have access to NodeXL. Without going into too much technical detail (you can find out how to download and use it here), the program allows you to map out real-time conversations that are happening on various social media platforms about your organization.
So, one of my goals this summer is to effectively use NodeXL to help my agency further explore our social media presence and really respond to our constituents’ needs. I am very excited to start this new project and I hope to share my progress with the GovLoop community over the next few months.
Are you currently using NodeXL? If so, feel free to drop me a line — @emrldcitychick — and let’s talk about some best practices!
I wrote a blog post awhile back as an introduction to social network analysis using NodeXL. It serves as a pretty good step by step guide for people just getting started with NodeXL.
I also highly recommend this book… http://www.amazon.com/Analyzing-Social-Media-Networks-NodeXL/dp/0123822297