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Published September 6th 2019

Interview: Professor Mike McGuirk on How Brandwatch For Students is Used in His Classroom

Digital Marketing and Data Analytics students at Emerson College, Boston, are taught how to use Brandwatch. Here are Professor Mike McGuirk's thoughts on how other colleges and universities can also benefit from Brandwatch for Students, free of charge.

As the academic year starts up once more, I’m taking a closer look at the impact of Brandwatch for Students.

I spoke to Professor Mike McGuirk who integrated Brandwatch into his ‘Digital Marketing and Data Analytics’ postgraduate course at Emerson College in Boston last year.

Mike came from the analytics field, where he worked for 25 years, before becoming a professor. Two years ago he helped establish a new Masters programme for marketing professionals looking to improve their digital and data analytics expertise.

He said: “A lot of businesses are trying to differentiate their brand to identify opportunities to improve customer experience. That idea leads very nicely into this course that I’m using the Brandwatch platform for”.

Why Brandwatch?

I wanted to know more about why Mike chose to use Brandwatch for Students and why it contributes to nearly 50% of his course.

His main aim was for the students to have the experience of using a platform and to give them the confidence to do analysis themselves.

“As a teacher I’m a huge proponent of my students getting hands-on experience”

When he came across the students version of the Brandwatch platform he says he was “really excited about trying to use it in the classroom”.

Favorite features

Mike uses this platform fairly extensively throughout his course and at the four week mark the students start the training and get ‘Brandwatch Certified’.

They then use the platform to carry out three different assignments around a company they have chosen. These assignments include brand monitoring, competitive analysis, and campaign analysis. Mike says that the students are “just blown away with the amount of information that can be retrieved on these companies they’ve selected”.

“It isn’t difficult for me to get the students excited to continue to use this tool. They’re really hooked.”

I wanted to get Mike’s opinion on what he found was the most useful feature. He couldn’t pick just one, so that’s definitely a positive sign!

“The flexibility that the querying function provides and the built in functions that it has are super impressive,” he says. “It seems to be very accurate and tight in terms of the types of mentions that it returns.”

“The querying language is really, really powerful and nicely set up. People that don’t have any programming experience at all, or people who are advanced programmers, can get very good at it, fast.”

Mike’s students were able to quickly get comfortable with creating dashboards. He says “it is super intuitive, and speaks to how well it was designed.”

“The students also loved producing word clouds,” Mike explained. “Interactive word clouds give them the ability to drill into key words and actually tie them to specific mentions to see what was driving the popularity for that particular phrase.”

A feature that is exclusive to the students’ platform is the ability to gain training and certification on a world-leading intelligence platform for free. Mike encourages his students to display their Brandwatch skills on their resumés and LinkedIn profiles.

What do the students think?

Mike told me that the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. “The students couldn’t have been more impressed by the tool,” he says.

Here are some quotes Mike provided from his class:

“I found the Brandwatch platform to be really useful and intuitive. One business application of Brandwatch that I found particularly exciting is the ability to analyze a campaign or product.”

“Using this tool also makes engagement with your consumers easier. Customers like to feel like they’re being heard and appreciated by companies, so tracking their comments about your brand and then taking the time to reply to them builds a better relationship with them. I’m looking forward to getting to experiment with Brandwatch in the coming weeks.”

“One thing that really stood out to me about the Brandwatch platform was the ability to not only easily find and identify influencers, but then easily keep track of them and any time they mention your company or product.”

Where to go from here

Knowing that Mike is planning to use the platform again for the upcoming year, I asked him about his future plans.

“I’ll probably use it to an even greater extent this year,” Mike said. “I foresee myself branching out even further and doing some additional things with the tools.”

“I think in a classroom, it’s an ideal tool”

When finding new projects for the classroom, as well as using his professional experience, Mike found that most of his inspiration came from Brandwatch’s library of case study materials. Mike explained that they “just spark lots of different ideas that I have for potentially using the platform in different ways”.

Mike loved that the platform gave him the opportunity to demonstrate what would normally be an abstract topic, and give the students practical skills.

“I haven’t done my job as a professor if I haven’t taught them how to take the insight and take action with it. The tool couldn’t have worked better to help us teach that to students”

As a closing remark, I wanted to know if Mike had any advice for other professors within his field. He explained that there was definitely a learning curve for professors when trying to figure out how best to integrate it into their course.

“Once you go through that process and start to understand how to do it, I think it really pays immediate dividends. I think Brandwatch for Students, when it comes to social listening and social media analytics, should be thought of by all professors as one of the top tools to teach your students”.

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Crimson Hexagon has merged with Brandwatch. You’re in the right place!

From May 8th, all Crimson Hexagon products are now on the Brandwatch website. You’ll find them under ‘Products’ in the navigation. If you’re an existing customer and you want to know more, your account manager will be happy to help.