Powering data science education with social collaboration

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Data science continues to become more and more critical, especially in the education sector. There is an ever-growing need to encourage and persuade younger generations to choose a career pathway in STEM areas from an early stage in their education, not least because organisations are struggling to find the analytical talent they require. Communications can play a key role in enabling businesses to communicate and attract talent, and create awareness among students.

But how can communications have such an impact?

The answer could be social media. As technology evolves and becomes faster, online interactions are increasing. Today, there are 2.8 billion global social media users, of whom 400 million are in Europe. On average, social media users spend 2 hours and 19 minutes a day using social networks. Teenagers and millennials, however, spend around 9 hours a day on social platforms.

It’s clear that social media plays a huge role in our lives. It has now become almost a necessity in our daily routine. It is also a perfect tool for bringing larger communities together, allowing people to communicate, share and learn from each other in a more efficient and effective way.

The importance of social media also extends to education. According to research by Hootsuite, social media is a crucial area for educational institutions, with over 90 percent using social media for marketing, recruiting and engaging with millennials. Social media enables students to connect with professors and tutors both within and beyond their institution. This means that they can gather views and opinions from a much larger community.

Social media also allows businesses to get involved and connect with students, professors and academic institutions. They can therefore provide resources, further learning and connections to current data scientists in business. Finally, it allows users to share experiences that have inspired them.

SoMe is a crucial area for educational institutions, for marketing, recruiting and engaging with millennials. #sasacademic #DataScience Click To Tweet

Using social media successful to attract millennials to analytics

Successful social media use requires an understanding about its use. Facebook and Twitter are the most popular channels, followed by Instagram and LinkedIn. Facebook achieves the highest engagement by targeting students demographically. Twitter is designed as a bridging platform where students, academics and learners can consume wider-focus content. Instagram is a way to connect in a more visual way with eye-catching content. LinkedIn can be useful for persuading and educating decision-makers in universities or organisations on adoption of tools to solve future skills gap in analytics/data science.

The next step is to define your audience. Analytics plays a role in understanding people’s behaviours, based on data generated on social media platforms. This will allow you to design a clear profile of your target audience and a positioning statement to influence how students will recognize your brand.

Your strategy should be built around the social media engagement cycle, Consume – Create – Curate. This will help develop a strong social media strategy to influence awareness and deliver a clear message:

  • Consume: Millennials are demanding and consume huge amounts of content on social media every day, in a wide range of formats including video, blog posts, webinars, and pictures. They are always looking for trending and interesting pieces of content to download, read, tweet, retweet, like and share.
  • Create: Content needs to be creative and innovative, focusing on areas that interest your target audience. It can also be repurposed, which is a major resource saver. Data analytics will help you to make decisions about the best way to use organic and paid content. Short content, images, videos and testimonies tend to produce the best performances. It is important to have a combination of different activities that work well together, to generate a smooth and cohesive output.
  • Curate: This is the process of sharing content between networks. Carefully create your brand, and by sharing your opinions, you will be able to influence your audience and build a community. Of course, you still need to make sure that you create strong social media experiences.

This is a never-ending cycle, because sharing provides feedback based on experience.

Once you understand your audience and have a suitable social media strategy, you will start to generate traction. Establishing your audience is, after all, only the first step; you then have to keep them. Analytics is your ideal partner in this process.

Learn more about careers in Analytics and how business and education come together to educate new talents in our December series exploring Data Science.

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About Author

Mayra Pedraza

Associate Briefing Program Specialist, Marketing Executive

Mayra is a Marketing Specialist for the Academic Programme at SAS UK, she develops the brand awareness across the whole UK & Ireland student community. She joined SAS in January 2016 as an intern.

Mayra manages the UK Academic social media platforms to share ideas and support other SAS users, she also creates events and sessions which contribute to engage more students into the analytics world.

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