Starting this summer, Dollywood Parks and Resorts’ social media campaign is being influenced by the work of students in the Clemson University Social Media Listening Center (SMLC).
The class, taught by Department of Communication lecturer Will Henderson, provided Dollywood with reports on social media insights and a full marketing plan. He approached Dollywood with a proposal for a class project through industry connections in the theme park network. Henderson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, and his research focuses on the social media behavior of theme park guests, which has allowed him to talk with theme park leaders about consumer insights and potential opportunities with the SMLC. Over the course of the semester, the students provided five reports and proposed a full marketing plan for The Dollywood Company supported by social listening findings.
“The social media reporting done by Clemson students has been nothing short of industry standard. The insights produced throughout these reports will improve how we at The Dollywood Company can better serve our guests both through digital media efforts and at our properties,” said Pete Owens, Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations for The Dollywood Company. “I cannot speak highly enough about the quality of reporting we received.”
Oftentimes, theme parks have full teams that are dedicated to this role. Providing this experience to the students allowed them to obtain practical industry experience they would not receive elsewhere.
“I have loved working with Dollywood throughout the semester. It gave me great insight into what social listening and market research looks like for a real brand,” said Molly Brackett, a 2023 May communication graduate. “This class and connection with Dollywood helped prepare me for the workforce in a significant way.”
Brackett said she is taking the experience and knowledge she gained into her internship and then eventually her job.
“I want to do some work in social media, and this process and class taught me how to gather data and truly understand analytics, which made me see social media in a different light. Social media has tremendous value and benefits in marketing and customer relations,” she said.
The Social Media Listening Center is a part of the Department of Communication and serves as 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.
The Department of Communication is a part of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, a 21st-century land-grant college joining together a unique combination of schools and departments: Communication, Nursing, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, Political Science, Psychology, Public Health Sciences and Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice. These areas have distinctive characteristics and missions – all joined together by a common thread of service to people and communities.
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