There are many ways to use social media in academic research. Some questions to ask yourself:
Keeping these considerations in mind will help you narrow down your options regarding where to find appropriate social media content for your research needs.
Aspects of social media are being studied by researchers in many different disciplines such as political science, communications, history, sociology, information science, public health and more. This means that there are many databases which may be helpful for finding scholarly literature related to the study of social media.
When searching, remember to think about synonyms for your subject keywords. For example, in addition to searching for the term "social media" you may also want to try keywords such as "new media" or "social networking sites".
Books and reference materials can be a good source of background information on social media technologies, industries and usage.