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Back to school with Watson Analytics for Social Media

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Back to school with Watson Analytics for Social Media

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It’s the week after Labor Day, and that means that just about every student in the US has gone back to school. So, although many students were groaning about the end of their summer vacation, how did the rest of the US feel? We used Watson Analytics for Social Media to gauge the sentiment.

Time to celebrate!

The back to school topic in social media is not that different from other short-term events, like birthdays, Chrismas and the recent eclipse. It gets a lot of mentions. What’s intriguing is that one of the top topics in the conversations is backpack. It’s such an important part of school now that it’s talked about more than “channel” and just barely less than “win.”

back to school mentions

Here we see that engagement builds until the first day of school and then drops off very quickly.

back to school engagement

Another thing I learned is the day that children return to school is one that families celebrate.

Accentuating the positive

The sentiment around the first day of school is overwhelmingly positive. As you probably saw in your own social media feeds, parents are ready to get their children out of the house after a long summer.

back to school sentiment

Interestingly, as the audience ages, sentiment is more likely to be negative. It’s possible that when students are old enough for social media accounts, they are going to be more forthright. They might be sharing that they’re not excited about the first day of school.   .


Video was a place where much of the social media activity took place. Many user generated videos showed funny back to school stuff.  For example, there was one that showed parents partying the moment their children go to school. People love to share hilarious videos, and they also generate a lot of comments.

back to school videos

Back to school: It’s a woman’s world

One last factoid from Watson Analytics for Social Media was not surprising. More than 80% of the people who talk about “back to school” are female. I was a little surprised at the high percentage, because I know a number of fathers who posted about the first day of school.

Social media insights lead to business insights

When I look over these quick insights into the topic of going back to school, it’s fairly easy to see how to add them to other insights. These can be from a business’s internal data or even other external data, such as weather data. A company that makes or sources backpacks can learn from the popularity of the topic. In such a crowded field, creating the most desirable backpack becomes key. It’s simply a matter of figuring out how. Or, a global outdoor gear supplier could move some backpack inventory from parts of the world where school is already in session to handle high demand in the US during July and August.

It’s quite obvious that advertisers know their audience for back to school is mostly female. Their commercials blanket those traditionally “female” channels and viewing hours. However, an enterprising business could try less traditional channels.

Educational institutions, teachers or a school administrators can tap into the negative sentiment. Maybe there’s a way to interview students and parents to find out about their negative feelings. You could gain a new take on education that gets older students excited about returning to school. But, what if it’s not students who are complaining? Maybe it’s an older population that no longer has children in school. They might think that going back to school doesn’t apply to them. In that case, communities could start programs to pair younger students with the older generation. The goal would be to initiate conversations about why education and going back to school should have meaning for them.

Learn more

Almost every social media story is one that business can use. You just need a fuller picture of the world’s data. Learn more here.


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