Now that we’ve officially ended our postings, we’re finally heading into the home stretch with our final class coming up Tuesday and with our final project due at the end of finals week.
Each class member still needs to get at least 50 different people to answer our online questionnaire at http://go.illinois.edu/tweets. Just asking 50 people isn’t enough. You probably need to ask several hundred to get 50 who actually will respond. The more responses we get, the richer our data will be. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, we were up to 213 respondents. Our goal is 750.
As results come in, make sure we are getting an appropriate mix of demographics by checking the list of who has responded at http://media290.h.media.illinois.edu/survey/respondents.log. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, we had 53.1% female, 45.5% male with the rest not answering. By college, 30.5% were LAS, 18.8% were Engineering, 18.3% were Media, 11.7% were Business, 5.2% were AHS, 4.2% were DGS, 3.8% were ACES, 2.3% were Education, and 1.4% were FAA. By ethnicity, 41.3% were white, 23.0% international, 20.2% Asian American, 6.1% African American and 4.2% Latino/a. By year, 14.6% were freshmen, 24.9% sophomores, 23.0% juniors, 26.8% seniors and 7.0% graduate students. All seem to be within reason for actual demographics on campus.
As for where they get most of their news, 23.0% said Facebook, 21.6% friends’ social media accounts, 21.1% news websites, 10.3% Twitter and 13.1% other social media, with very small numbers for newspapers, broadcasts, comedy shows, news apps and various aggregators.
Raw data, rating each tweet, also may be viewed live at http://media290.h.media.illinois.edu/survey/answers.log.
Learn about data analysis and reporting
The entire class is now responsible for coming up with a final report summarizing our findings and offering advice to local media. Assignments were worked on Tuesday. If you have questions, review this assignment summary or contact your classmates.
Meanwhile, here is a spreadsheet (as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, which means you will need to update it before doing final analysis) of results of our questionnaire and quick scatter charts (previewed above) preliminarily testing for possible correlations (which, as explained in class Tuesday, would show up as clusters centered on a rising line from left to right) with the factors we earlier came up with. More robust checks of statistical correlation and possibly even revised factors we test against are among the tasks team members should be working on.
Here also is some boilerplate — basically, a summary of what we said in class Tuesday — that may help, provided it is borne out by our more robust statistical analysis:
After reviewing industry best practices and results of various (admittedly scant) research on the topic, students each week posted dozens of items, then refined their tactics on a weekly basis after reviewing data from Twitter and Facebook about how engaging their postings had been. They eventually developed a set of criteria that they thought would best predict whether future postings would maximize engagement and sought to test those strategies via a controlled questionnaire that sought to more systematically gauge levels of audience interest in specific postings selected because of the presence or absence of the qualities they identified.
Preliminary findings, which in final form will be presented in the form of an industry research report prepared by class members for local campus and professional media, are somewhat surprising.
Although using active images and informal, conversational tone may have some value, as suggested by material they reviewed and their own actual practice, the primary determinant of what engages a social media audience appears at first glance to be the same as what engages an audience in any medium: the degree to which a development is unexpected and especially emotional, either directly impacting the individual follower or vicariously impacting him or her by conveying information about a situation with human consequences with which followers can easily identify or empathize.
They also found that running a social media news service is just like running any other news service in yet another way. It needs first and foremost to serve its audience, not merely be a vehicle for promoting some other product, whether it be an institution or a news site. That means developing independent news judgment geared toward the needs and desires of the service’s users even if the news site or other product it may be associated with has no vested interest in promoting everything the social media service might mention.
Conventional wisdom that audiences are most responsive to attempts to spark conversation or to deal with inconsequential yet commonplace daily routines did not seem to be born out. In fact, a social media feed seems less about behaving as if the feed were a typical individual’s social media account and more about behaving as if it were a traditional news provider, albeit one that eschews “dull but important” and other obligatory, incremental news coverage.
Submit your grading contract
This also is the week for everyone to submit by private email to firstname.lastname@example.org your grading contract, assessing what grade you believe you should receive in the course and outlining, based on specific work you performed, why you believe that grade is merited. These were requested before class Tuesday. If you still haven’t sent yours in, please do so right away.
To aid in self-assessment of your portfolio, here (as of noon Saturday) are the number of activity posts, reports and other items (except comments) that each class member has posted to this site this semester. Raw numbers don’t always tell a story, of course, but generally speaking the further down you are on this list, the more work you may still need to do to document your contributions to our project:
Part of your evaluation process will be evaluating the work of your teammates. Before the end of finals week, each of your will be asked to submit a confidential teammate evaluation report by email to the instructor.
We’ll talk about all of these things at our final class next Tuesday, but time is drawing short, and we need to make sure everyone accomplishes what needs to be done before class.
Alia, Ruoxi and Masic presented our project from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday in South Lounge of Illini Union.
Free program on digital storytelling
Social media consultant Christopher Wick will share what he regards as proven secrets to digital storytelling success from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday in 126 GSLIS. You also can attend online.