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The Social Media Listening Center at the Clemson University Department of Communication

Social Media Listening Center

The Social Media Listening Center is moving to Cooper Library, beginning Fall 2022. Our new facility will be located on the fifth floor of the building, right next to Starbucks. The room will feature an interactive video wall in the lounge area, collaborative workstations, and additional office and meeting space. Our new lab space will be uniquely positioned on campus to cultivate partnerships with students, faculty, and external clients. Stay tuned for information about our Grand (re)Opening event later in the fall semester.

Social Media Listening Center at Clemson University

At a mere 502 square feet, the size of an average classroom, the Social Media Listening Center features a 152-inch video wall, two 70-inch video monitors, cable television and two collaboration tables with TV panels that allow users to configure and display data in myriad ways to fit their particular needs and areas of study.

Department of Communication Communication Center
  • Our Technology

    Opening in early 2012, The Social Media Listening Center at Clemson University is an interdisciplinary, cutting-edge laboratory that seeks to monitor, measure, and engage in social media conversations from across the web. Utilizing some of the most powerful social analytics software available, the SMLC provides learning, teaching, researching, and partnership opportunities to students, faculty, and external clients.

    In June 2021, the SMLC began a partnership with Sprinklr, one of the world’s premier social analytics and listening platforms. Sprinklr's broad-based listening includes social sources as well as broader digital sources (blogs, news, forums, reviews) that may be queried against. Sources include Twitter (full firehose), Reddit (full firehose), YouTube, Forums, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Disqus, RSS Feeds, News, Quora, Articles, WordPress, Reviews, Blogs/Websites, and Flickr. In all, Sprinklr’s robust search feature allows the SMLC to listen across 350+ million sources of online data.

    Beyond Sprinklr, the SMLC also houses an array of listening and analytics tools that bolster its capacity to serve as one of the premier social media laboratories in the country. The ability to harvest data, while critically important, only scratches the surface of social media research and application. To that end, the SMLC provides students and researchers with tools and techniques to analyze and make sense out of datasets. The SMLC can support various methodological approaches from content analysis, sentiment analysis, network analysis, and more. 

  • Opportunities for Students

    The SMLC provides unique avenues for student engagement in the form of internships, collaborative research projects, classroom study, and Creative Inquiry.

    Students that intern with the SMLC are fully engaged with the Center. Students that work in the SMLC are also able to participate in a variety of contexts that suit specific interests including but not limited to: news coverage, event planning/management, social media strategy, data analysis, etc. If you are interested in interning with the SMLC, contact Will Henderson.

    The SMLC provides faculty, staff, and students ample opportunities to listen, measure, and engage in social media conversations across the Internet. Access to the SMLC for research purposes is readily available. If you are interested in conducting research out of the SMLC, please contact us.

    Creative Inquiry
    Every semester, at least one Creative Inquiry group is designed to work out of the SMLC. Frequently these CI classes are formed in partnership with external clients to provide real world, tangible experiences to students.

  • Opportunities for Faculty

    Many faculty members utilize Radian6 and the SMLC in their research. As an interdisciplinary center, the SMLC invites faculty and staff from across campus to learn more about social analytics, and how to integrate data into various research projects and classroom settings.

    Faculty and staff at Clemson are able to obtain profiles and log-in credentials for research purposes. For more information and to submit a request for access, click here.

    Instructors may obtain profiles for single use, or per student/group, depending on class size and usage requirements. Instructors that are interested in using the SMLC in their classes are invited to submit a request for access.

  • Social Media Listening Center Training

    SMLC faculty, staff, and interns are readily available to provide training opportunities to anyone interested in utilizing the center. We offer individual consultations as well as group training sessions. To request training, please contact Will Henderson.

  • Collaborate: Partner with the SMLC

    If your business or organization is interested in learning more about how you can get involved with social media monitoring and analysis, the SMLC provides opportunities for varying levels of partnership.

    Features of Partnership

    • Consultation Services
      • Detailed assessment by SMLC faculty and staff
      • Varying levels of affordable monitoring services

      Social Media Analysis

      • In-depth reports tailored to examine specific contexts
      • Sentiment analysis to measure the emotional temperature of a conversation
      • Trend analysis to assess the development of conversations
      • Influencer identification to highlight key users spreading information about specific topics/brands

      Strategic Campaign Development

      • Deliverables including content calendars to full social media audits
      • Dedicated profiles tailored to achieve specific social media initiatives

      How to Partner
      If you are interested in creating a partnership with the SMLC, please submit the form in the contact area below and we will be in contact with you very shortly.

  • SMLC Leadership

    Brandon Boatwright, Ph.D.Brandon Boatwright, Ph.D.

    Dr. Boatwright is a two-time graduate of Clemson University, and recently completed his doctoral studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in Communication and Information with an emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations. His research focus examines the intersection of sports, social media, and opinion leadership. Specifically, the various strands of my research program are connected by three primary topics: (1) the role of opinion leadership in online environments and its effects on the broader network ecology of users and organizations, (2) how sociopolitical and sociocultural issues affect organizations, specifically within sports, and (3) issues associated with data privacy and ethics.

    He has published original research in Public Relations Review, The Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, Computers in Human Behavior, The Journal of Public Interest Communication, and the Southern Communication Journal. He is an active member of the National Communication Association and the Southern States Communication Association. He is currently co-authoring a textbook on social media research methods designed to arm students with the latest social media research tools and data analysis strategies.

    Dr. Boatwright oversees the various functions the SMLC performs which include working with undergraduate and graduate students on class assignments and projects, supporting data collection and research projects for faculty across the university, creating and sustaining external partnerships through the center, and pursuing grant opportunities.

    Will Henderson, Associate Director, LecturerWill Henderson, Associate Director, Lecturer

    Will Henderson joined the Department of Communication as Associate Director of the Social Media Listening Center in 2019. He brings a range of industry experience. He previously served as a social media strategist and has experience as a social media consultant for several non-profit and marketplace companies. In these roles, he mentored and supervised teams consisting of graphic designers, web and content curators, video editors, and freelance photographers, in addition to deploying social media strategies and analytics.

    Henderson earned his master’s degree in media management, with a concentration in social media management, from Arkansas State University in 2019. His research on using online communities as complimentary therapy for individuals with self-damaging behaviors was presented at the Southern States Communication Association Conference in 2019. At Clemson, he teaches the undergraduate social media analytics course and provides leadership for the SMLC’s many projects and client relationships. In this position, he trains and prepares students in his classes, assists faculty members with research projects, and engages with industry partners.

  • SMLC Faculty Associates

    Faculty Associates are Clemson University faculty members (of any rank) whose primary and compensated appointment resides in one department or program but who make important contributions to the Social Media Listening Center for a sustained period of time (one or more years). The Center may name an individual as a Faculty Associate if the individual contributes to and participates in major functions that achieve the mission of the Center.

    Faculty Associates benefit the Social Media Listening Center by:

    • Offering new insights into the work of the Center and its initiatives;
    • Fostering collaboration and communication across different departments and programs
    • Promoting interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship related to social media

    Faculty Associates can contribute to the Social Media Listening Center in multiple ways, including but not limited to the following:

    • Teaching courses in the Center or team-teaching with a faculty member in the Center
    • Providing guest lectures in classes held in the Center
    • Serving as an investigator or collaborating on research grants or projects that utilize the Center
    • Designing public programming or materials for the Center
    • Mentoring junior faculty in the Center
    • Serving as a consultant on an initiative, curriculum reform, strategic planning, fundraising, or other projects that utilize the Center

    SMLC Faculty Associates:

  • Faculty Research

    Researchers from across the university leverage the resources out of the SMLC to publish research articles in highly reputable peer-reviewed academic journals across multiple fields. In the fields below, you will find a selection of these publications along with an abstract summarizing each study. This page is updated regularly to reflect new projects using data out of the SMLC. 

    Ash, E., Sanderson, J., Kumanyika, C., & Gramlich, K. (2017). " Just Goes to Show How These Hoes Try to Tear Men Down": Investigating Twitter and Cultural Conversations on Athletic Ability, Race, and Sexual Assault. Journal of Sports Media12(1), 65-87.

    Abstract: On December 5, 2013, the State of Florida attorney announced his decision to not charge Jameis Winston, the African American quarterback at Florida State University at the time, with sexual assault in response to allegations stemming from an incident in December 2012. As Twitter represents a unique site for examining cultural conversations and as sexual assault allegations toward athletes have gained more media attention, this research was conducted to investigate Twitter reactions to this decision. A content analysis of tweets (n = 2,500) systematically examined how rape culture and beliefs about athletic ability, race, and sexual assault were reinforced and contested in tweets. The results of our study found that attitudes consistent with those that comprise rape culture, including victim blaming and framing the accused as the victim, were for the most part upheld and reinforced by Twitter users. However, our findings also indicated that Twitter served as a site for a smaller number of users to voice criticism of society, media, and sports culture in response to the decision to not charge Winston. Taken together, these findings indicate that although Twitter provides users a platform to challenge problematic belief systems, it also functions as a site where those ideologies can be reinforced.

    Ash, E., Xu, Y., Jenkins, A., & Kumanyika, C. (2019). Framing Use of Force: An Analysis of News Organizations’ Social Media Posts About Police Shootings. Electronic News13(2), 93-107.

    Abstract: This research is a systematic investigation of reporting on police use of force incidents by news organizations through social media. A sample of Tweets and Facebook posts appearing on the social media accounts of top news outlets (N = 500) over the course of a year were analyzed. Rationalizations for use of force, characterizations of police and victims, and contextual framing were examined. Results revealed medium-based differences in challenging police actions as well as demonstrated the limitations of short-form social media in communicating news on complex issues. Implications of these findings for theory and journalistic practice are discussed. 

    Boatwright, B., Mazer, J. P., & Beach, S. (2019). The 2016 US Presidential Election and Transition Events: A Social Media Volume and Sentiment Analysis. Southern Communication Journal84(3), 196-209. 

    Abstract: The present study examines social media behavior as indicative of basking in reflected glory (BIRGing), the psychological process of associating with the successes of others, and cutting off reflected failure (CORFing), disassociating with the failure of others, during the 2016 presidential election, inauguration events, and subsequent worldwide Women’s March. The study harvested 10,973,629 tweets in the days leading up to and following these events. The results indicate the presence of BIRGing and CORFing processes that were likely accelerated due to the election’s outcome. While BIRG was uncovered during the election and inauguration, opponents were basking in reflected failure (BIRF) during the Women’s March by protesting the inauguration as a form of resistance. We discuss the theoretical implications and areas for future research. 

    Jenkins, A. S., & Mazer, J. P. (2018). # NotOkay: Stories of Sexual Assault in the midst of the 2016 US Presidential Election. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication19(1), 9-17.

    Abstract: Sexual assault affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. Social media platforms such as Twitter allow users to anonymously share 140-character messages that serve to convey information and foster a supportive community. Following the release of a 2005 video that captured then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump bragging in vulgar terms about kissing, groping, and trying to have sex with women, women took to Twitter to share their personal stories of sexual assault using the hashtag #NotOkay. The present study examines 1,091 tweets from women who shared their lived experiences with sexual assault. Findings revealed four themes: characteristics of sexual assault, relationship to perpetrator, public vs. private locations, and action and consequence. The results highlight Twitter as a venue for women to share their lived experiences with sexual assault.

    Kirkwood, G. L., Payne, H. J., & Mazer, J. P. (2019). Collective trolling as a form of organizational resistance: Analysis of the# Justiceforbradswife Twitter campaign. Communication Studies70(3), 332-351.

    Abstract: This case study analyzed Twitter posts from the #JusticeForBradsWife campaign against the Cracker Barrel (CB) restaurant chain. Participants in the counterinstitutional movement employed diverse message strategies of humor and resistance in using social media as a site for discourse. Thematic analysis of the most influential users revealed humor strategies including: connecting to popular culture, political comic relief and using hyperbole. Participants’ resistance strategies included: making calls for action, critiquing CB products and business partners, attacking CB patrons, critiquing CB’s social media management, and offers of support from outside organizations. These strategies reflected collective trolling, where trolling behaviors created a hidden and public hybrid form of collective resistance from nontraditional stakeholders who had contradictory goals. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

    Linvill, D. L., Boatwright, B. C., & Grant, W. J. (2018). “Back-stage” dissent: student Twitter use addressing instructor ideology. Communication Education67(2), 125-143.

    Abstract: In this content analysis, we explored how students address instructor ideology in the university classroom through the social media platform Twitter. We employed Boolean search operators through Salesforce Marketing Cloud Radian6 software to gather tweets and identified English language tweets by how students referenced their instructor's ideology. Tweets originated in the United States (U.S.), the United Kingdom (U.K.), and Australia. Using qualitative coding procedures, we identified seven themes in the data that described how students wrote about instructor ideology on Twitter: venting regarding instructor's ideologysharing classroom anecdoteaffirming instructor's beliefs/actionsexpressing grade concernarticulating an opposing viewreporting conflict, and indicating confusion. Across categories, Twitter was employed primarily as a back-stage means to communicate expressive dissent regarding instructor ideology and also to demonstrate students’ identity. We identified differences between categories based on the perceived ideology of the students’ instructors as well as differences in the number of tweets per capita originating in each country.

    Linvill, D. L., & Warren, P. L. (2020). Troll factories: Manufacturing specialized disinformation on Twitter. Political Communication37(4), 447-467.

    Abstract: We document methods employed by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to influence the political agenda of the United States from September 9, 2009 to June 21, 2018. We qualitatively and quantitatively analyze Twitter accounts with known IRA affiliation to better understand the form and function of Russian efforts. We identified five handle categories: Right Troll, Left Troll, News Feed, Hashtag Gamer, and Fearmonger. Within each type, accounts were used consistently, but the behavior across types was different, both in terms of “normal” daily behavior and in how they responded to external events. In this sense, the Internet Research Agency’s agenda-building effort was “industrial” – mass produced from a system of interchangeable parts, where each class of part fulfilled a specialized function.

    Mazer, J. P., Thompson, B., Cherry, J., Russell, M., Payne, H. J., Kirby, E. G., & Pfohl, W. (2015). Communication in the face of a school crisis: Examining the volume and content of social media mentions during active shooter incidents. Computers in Human Behavior53, 238-248.

    Abstract: Little is known about the effectiveness of social media in delivering information during active shooter incidents at the P-12 level. This study analyzed social media activity that occurred during and after two active shooter events on September 30, 2014. Over 5000 social media posts from Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and mainstream news outlets were analyzed. Social media analysis outlined the scope of online communication during the first week following the incidents, revealed social media frequency, increases in conversation, misinformation, and differences between parent and student posts. Results revealed spikes in social media chatter following the release of the identities of shooters and victims. Consistent with media dependency theory and the high levels of uncertainty characteristic of the incident, users’ social media posts contained more information than affect displays during the active shooter event. Implications for scholars and P-12 administrators are discussed.

    Pyle, A. S., & Boatwright, B. (2018). Coming together around hashtags: Exploring the formation of digital emergent citizen groups. The Journal of Public Interest Communications2(1), 3-17.

    Abstract: It has been well established that during and after crisis or emergency events, groups of citizens come together to help one another, solve problems, and manage recovery or cleanup. These groups are called emergent citizen groups. They form organically and often disband when the emergency is managed. This study proposes that similar types of groups now form in digital spaces during and after crises. The authors studied conversation on Twitter that used the hashtag “#PrayforUSC” after the murder-suicide that took place at the University of South Carolina in 2015. Initial results indicate that hashtags can function as focal points or catalysts for digital emergent citizen groups. More research should be done to determine whether and how these groups form, function, and disperse.

  • SMLC In The News
  • SMLC Blog: The News in New Media

    The News in New Media blog tracks and reviews news of all media (traditional, social, etc) through the Clemson University Social Media Listening Center. Come check us out.

  • Contact Us


Cathrine Rogers, Digital Director, The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail

“Clemson’s Social Media Listening Center helped the joint newsroom of The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail enhance its efforts to dig into the online conversation on Election Day. We were able to get a more comprehensive picture of what South Carolina voters were talking about as the state selected a new governor and voters stood in long lines and reported voting machines issues at the polls. The SMLC helped our team cut through all the chatter online and highlight important information in our community members’ feeds. We look forward to future opportunities to collaborate with the SMLC.”

Catherine Rogers
Digital Director
The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail
Nigel Robertson, Anchor/Reporter, WYFF-TV

“We’ve enjoyed partnering with Clemson University’s Social Media Listening Center to cover the most important stories of the day. By providing our viewers with a window into the dynamic world of social media, the Center has helped us cover major news stories from every possible angle.”

Nigel Robertson