In the world of social media, Twitter is emerging as the brand marketer’s favorite watering hole. This according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Society for Information Sciences and Technology, which suggests that people are using Twitter increasingly as a way to communicate about products–and companies are loving it.
The researchers examined half a million tweets during the study, looking for tweets mentioning a brand and why the brand was mentioned — to inform others, express a view on the brand, or another use– and found that people were using tweets to “connect with the products.” About 20 percent of the tweets contained questions and answers about products. Companies, in turn, are able to glean a treasure trove of information about how consumers view their wares.
Right now about 6 million people use Twitter every day. By the end of the year, it’ll be closer to 20 million. If this study is correct, companies will have at their disposal an unprecendently massive, essentially free source of information just by lurking around to see what folks are tweeting about. I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t already a job opening for a “Twitter Information Researcher” out there (if not already, definitely soon).
I wonder to what extent people would change what they tweet about if they knew how much they were being hawked by companies using them as info depots for selling more product? Or, maybe, this wouldn’t matter at all, since we’ve become accustomed to a high level of commercial hawkage in just about every phase of our lives. I think it’s fair to say that alarm about corporate info collection has ceded to reluctant resignation. Being under the marketing microscope has become, for good or bad, commonplace. Twitter is just the latest way to increase the magnification.