Clemson University powers academic research and trains the next generation of social media professionals with Sprinklr
When Brandon Boatwright had the opportunity to return to Clemson University as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and director of the school’s Social Media Listening Center (SMLC), he jumped at the offer. Not only was Clemson home to one of the first labs in the U.S. to have a dedicated social media analytics space, but he knew the lab well: He had received both his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees at Clemson, had lectured there, and had spent time using the lab’s social media research technology. But by the time Boatwright returned to campus in 2020, the lab’s software had become legacy and was no longer supported. He needed a new platform to power Clemson’s leading edge social media lab.
He was looking for a solution that would:
Help train the next generation of social media managers, content creators and strategists and prepare them for industry jobs after graduation
Enable his students to conduct research for local small businesses and non-profits as a means of providing a public service while giving students real-world experience
Break down interdisciplinary silos and open up new opportunities for collaborative academic research
Boatwright and his colleagues landed on Sprinklr’s unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform. Since 2021, Sprinklr Insights has powered Clemson’s Social Media Listening Center, an interdisciplinary lab that utilizes cutting edge technology to listen to, measure, and engage in online conversations across various digital and social media platforms. As director of the center, Boatwright’s goal is to empower students and faculty to leverage the power of analytics and artificial intelligence to better understand how information spreads, resonates, and performs. He says his five-year strategic plan for building out the center revolves around three key areas.
Boatwright says that students’ access to Clemson’s Social Media Listening Center and to Sprinklr sets them up for success by providing hands-on experience using a best-in-class, AI-powered platform. In class, they work on the platform to learn social media best practices as well as data analytics and interpretation. But students aren’t simply learning to conduct social media research; they are pioneers in a rapidly-evolving field, where they are learning to manipulate a tool that transforms vast amounts of unstructured data, including millions of online conversations from more than 30 digital channels, into actionable insights.
“Having this resource on campus and having students come up to me after they’ve had a year or two of experience working in the real world and telling me they got their first job or their first internship because they had this experience on their resume is an incredible thing for us,” says Boatwright.
With the data that we're able to pull from Sprinklr, we can really start to train students and faculty from across the university in these research skills. It's a huge untapped area of research that is interdisciplinary in nature.”
Clemson University’s Social Media Listening Center (SMLC)
The biggest and best outcome for Boatwright is when graduates of Clemson’s program return to tell him that their time as undergraduates spent working on the Sprinklr platform helped them get their first job. It’s also when older graduates return – as they recently did for Clemson’s first-ever Social Media Week this past year — and are impressed with how the communication program and the SMLC have evolved.
“They came in and they said, ‘So what is this space like? What are you guys doing in here?’ And we said, ‘Well, we've partnered with Sprinklr. It's a software company that allows us to do all these different cool things,’” Boatwright explains. “And every single one of them has come in and said, ‘Man! I wish we had something like this when we were going through school.”
Going forward, Boatwright hopes to establish a multi-disciplinary faculty associates program at Clemson — as well as a computational science certificate program.
“With the data that we're able to pull from Sprinklr, we can really start to train students and faculty from across the university in these research skills,” says Boatwright. “It's a huge untapped area of research that is interdisciplinary in nature.”
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