For you researchers who have long awaited open-source tools to start analyzing social media networks, the time has come. The Social Media Research Foundation (SMFR), comprised of a collection of researchers, is a non-profit organization that specializes in the development of open tools and data to aid scholars with social media-related research. Despite the recent emergence of these tools provided by the SMRF for folks in the academy, social scientists have begun taking full advantage of these tools (see Marc Smith’s story).
The Social Media Research Foundation’s mission is to understand, map, and measure social media. The SMRF tools will allow scholars to create data visualizations in addition to data collection and analysis.
One of the most fascinating rapidly emerging open-source tools provided by SMRF is NodeXL. This template can be downloaded as a Microsoft Excel add-on and will enable users to easily graph data collected via social networking sites. The social network analysis feature supports a number of networking data sets including personal emails, twitter, flickr, and facebook. Still confused by how this works? Tutorial handbooks used by professional instructors who teach social media analysis are available to guide you through this process.
The Social Media Research Foundation may not have the answers to all of your questions, however they are pioneers in a relatively new field of research contributing to a large body of work. Explore their website; you may find something of interest to you.