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College of Media & Communication Introduces Social Media Lab

The Outpost provides social media training, application and analysis to students and the community.

Written by Grace Acuña

Outpost

Outpost social media lab

According to a 2012 report from Nielsen, people spend 20 percent more time on social media sites than any other category of site. Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication (COMC) is capitalizing on this popularity with its Outpost Social Media Lab.

The Outpost, which opened last semester, is a social media command center powered by HootSuite Enterprise, a social media monitoring program used by most major companies. Texas Tech is the first college to have access to the demo program, which gives any student in the COMC full HootSuite program functionalities.

“Social media has become a go-to communication channel for consumers and it has completely changed the industry,” said Trent Seltzer, chairman of the Department of Public Relations. “We’re trying to be responsive to that by adding these kinds of facilities, and training students on social media tools.

“I have not heard of any programs that have invested in space and resources to develop a command center setup. We may be the first college of media and communication that has one entirely in-house.”

Students in the lab conduct live monitoring of news and events to provide real-time analysis of public reaction across the social web, as well as engage the audience and create content.

Outpost

Outpost manager and graduate student, Trevor Bell, also has begun using the lab resources to reach out to the community. He offers workshops for on- and off-campus organizations about being safe and representing a personal brand on social media.

“Social media is good for these students because it allows them to join in on conversations they usually wouldn’t have been able to.” Bell said. “I’m not trying to scare them, but I’m trying to prepare them.”

Recently, Bell made presentations for students from area-wide high schools and junior highs, and Texas Tech’s PEGASUS and Upward Bound programs.

“It’s a good way to connect with friends and get their opinions out there,” Bell said. “It’s really important for them to realize that this is actually an intricate part of their lives and employers and colleges are now looking at profiles.”

Since its opening last March, the Outpost provided social media monitoring and engagement assistance for the 2013 Texas Tech Relay for Life, Institute for Hispanic and International Communication’s Reaching Audiences conference, the 2013 Association for Politics and the Life Sciences conference, and during some popular television shows’ fall premieres.

“I would like it to continue to grow and expand the opportunity for students,” Seltzer said.  “For the students who want to take advantage of it, it gives them a taste of how social media works in the industry.”

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