Twitter Trend Analysis

By Kati Tusinski Berg

Sample Tweets

Sample tweets from students in Berg's ADPR 1800 course.

A couple of years ago I totally resisted Twitter, but over the past year I have come to enjoy it as a way to connect with colleagues, students and industry pros. Thanks to my colleague Gee Ekachai (@FvrythingPR) for encouraging me to get up-to-date with my social media skills. I have tried to develop a professional brand on Twitter than relates to my work as a professor in public relations in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. Not only do I use hashtags for my courses (e.g. #adpr1800 and #ccom2000) but this semester I created a semester-long project for my ADPR 1800 Principles of Public Relations classes.

Students were required to create a public, professional-oriented Twitter account for class. I spent one lecture at the beginning of the semester reviewing online professionalism and ethics to remind them about the implications of posting inappropriate content online. Then students chose at least three PR professionals (e.g. @augieray or @ginidietrich), PR agencies (e.g. @ogilvypr @BraniganComm PR-related organizations (e.g. @PRSA or @PRnews) to follow on Twitter.

Tweeting was not required throughout the semester; however, there was one Friday where the students were required to tweet for follow Friday (#FF) to suggest accounts and also tweet a story or link. Students then conducted a trend analysis by collecting information via Twitter during the semester in an attempt to spot a pattern, or trend, in the information. Since this was a semester-long project, student groups were periodically asked to give Twitter updates in class. At the end of the semester, students wrote a brief paper discussing the PR trends they observed.

From a teaching perspective, I think this assignment was successful for a variety of reasons. First, it introduced students to one of the hottest PR tools. Twitter enables brands to engage, promote, and drive brand loyalty. It also allows organizations to monitor, participate and start conversations. Twitter is also a key communication tactic in times of crisis such as campus lockdowns, natural disasters, or product recalls. Secondly, many of the concepts (such as importance of two-way communication, transparency, reputation management, employee relations, social media and ethics) we discuss in class emerged as top trends on Twitter. And lastly, this assignment allowed students to become more engaged with the industry of public relations by tweeted and retweeting stories or links they found interesting. They were also exposed to a variety of tips and tools from PR professionals, agencies and organizations that will ultimately help them succeed in the industry.

I might make a few minor tweaks to the assignment for next fall but overall I think this was a great way to introduce students to the industry of public relations through one of the hottest social media platforms.

Dr. Kati Tusinski Berg is an Assistant Professor of Corporate Communication and Public Relations in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.

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