The workforce will face a shortage of nearly 200,000 marketing analysts by 2018, according to estimates in a McKinsey study. Dr. Laeeq Khan, through his research and teaching, is working to change that.
Dr. Khan's expertise is social media and analytics with a focus on analyzing big data and social media for businesses, health communications, politics and a range of other areas where social media are being employed. In addition, he studies international development and communication issues by looking at international media systems and how media are being used across the world.
“Our main role at the SMART Lab is to foster research and productivity, especially among students and faculty,” said Dr. Khan. “I have been able to organize a few research clusters with different specializations and interest areas so that conserves the platform where we can connect grad students, and even if undergrads are interested, to data sources, to tools, and know-how so they can problem-solve issues that we can best do with data and also publish it.”
There isn’t one method of research Dr. Khan prefers over another; instead he looks at it as a tool kit in which he can look at the questions and problems that need to be solved and try to see which method can best help garner an answer.
When it comes to social media analytics, it’s all about going deeper to try to make sense of how the research can be used to inform and provide a better understanding, Dr. Khan said. Social media engagement forms the building blocks of analytics because it’s all about measuring likes, comments, shares, and what it means to do that.
“How do we assign a value to that? How do we measure it? What’s the return on investment?” he said. “We talk a lot about what social media can do for us but that can all be meaningless if we do not know how to measure our performance."
Though there are many people who are passionate about social media research, Dr. Khan feels there is still much to be learned and understood.
“Part of the reason there is ambiguity in understanding a lot of the social media tools, and especially from a measurement perspective, is that social media data are unstructured data and it’s not easy to measure,” Dr. Khan said.
With millennials leading the way in an app-based, digitally-driven society, one area that is yet to be understood is social media literacy. Dr. Khan said there are many questions to consider such as: What does it mean to be media literate? How is news going to be redefined on social networks? What does trending mean? How much control do we as users have in the age of algorithms?
His research has resulted in many refereed journal articles, proceedings and book chapters. Dr. Khan’s work has been featured in various publications, some of which include: Computers in Human Behavior, Computers and Education, Government Information Quarterly and a white paper for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr. Khan received his Ph.D. in media and information studies with a concentration in social media and customer engagement from Michigan State University; a master’s degree in telecommunications systems management (MS) and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from Murray State University.