Effective Use of Twitter in Market Research

Now More Than Ever, Twitter Is a Top Tool

Social Media Twitter
Market Researchers Use Real-Time Consumer Sentiment Via Twitter. Getty Images | Sigrid Olsson | PhotoAlto RF Collection

Twitter has increased in popularity beyond a level predicted at the time it was introduced. This is largely due to the change in the content of Tweets. Where consumers once tweeted their every move, boring others and boring themselves (mostly, and prompting the question: "So what?" Today, Twitter has become a viable mode of communication. The purposes to which Twitter has been successfully applied is staggering.

One has only to think about its use during the Arab Spring, the partisan polls on MSNBC during the Presidential election, and Cory Booker's Tweets during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Twitter updates are integrated in search results such that fast-rising queries are apt to pull related tweets. The Tweets surface in a Google One Box and are ranked according to their relevance to the search.

The Rise of Twitter as Micro-Blogging

The 140 character updates posted by Twitter users function like micro-blogs since Tweets are really just tiny blog posts. When Tweets are conceptualized in this way, it really does make perfect sense for them to be included in search engine indexing.

As with any good blog, regular Tweeters tend to acquire a following. But Twitter lends itself to several purposes beyond that of the typical blog post.

Twitter Be Used for Advertising, Marketing, and Market Research

Twitter is used to meet five primary functions:

  • Inbound Signaling: The Twitter stream permits a rich exchange of information about what people are doing and about what consumers are saying about a brand. Tweets are essentially records of what consumers are thinking. Sometimes Tweets are really just an unedited stream-of-conscious, but more often, they are a lens to what people value and consider important. This is rich territory for a market researcher.
  • Direct Communication: Tweets are commonly used to inform consumers about corporate accomplishments related to a brand. Tweets are even used to distribute press releases and to link to promotional websites. However, consumer interest in self-serving Tweets is low in the Twitter culture. The whole point of Twitter is person-to-person communication, even when the audience of a Tweet extends to hundreds of thousands of other people. People expect a Tweet to reflect the thinking and value system of a single particular Tweeter.
  • Indirect Communication: Twitter is a powerful tool for enhancing reputation, whether that is the reputation of a brand, a company, or a person. It is entirely possible to convey clever and interesting things in a Tweet, such that many followers are attracted to the Tweeter and may subsequently seek out their full blog and become a regular reader.
  • Internal Communication: Some companies permit employees to communicate with coworkers via Twitter about what they are currently doing, what projects they are working on, and ideas that occur to them. The potential hazards of this use of Twitter are self-evident, and in response, other providers such as and have come out with Twitter-like functions that are useful for the micro-blogging of enterprises, but that provide more corporate control and more security.

    Examples of Successful Brand Tweeting

    Twitter provides ​the opportunity for individual and organizational profiles to be enhanced. A definite mutuality exists: as people enhance their own personal brands, the reputation of the companies they work for are elevated. The overall cascading of enhanced reputation for individuals, employees, and brands tends to influence the perceptions held by consumers - and potential employees - regarding the benefits of buying particular products and working for that company. Accordingly, the process can unhappily be reversed if employees are not careful to avoid Tweets that can be negatively perceived.

    Market researchers are working to explore the possibilities of Twitter as a way achieve consumer insights with an immediacy that is staggering. Consider that every time a brand uses Twitter, an opportunity is created for consumers to discover or learn more about a brand.