The hype around Twitter doesn’t seem to be slowing down, however few research papers have been published so far about it. So it’s with a gleeful smile that I welcomed the results of the academic study of the phenomenon published by Professor Jim Jansen and his team at Penn State University. They analysed nearly 150,000 tweets to understand how brands were mentioned on microblogging tools like Twitter.

I will focus this post on the results, but feel free to check for yourselves the methods that have been used, they’re very well detailed in the report paper.

Around 19% of tweets mention an organization or a product. Of these:

  • 1 out 5 tweets express a sentiment or an opinion, either positive (for 52% of them), negative (33%) or neutral (15%)
  • 4 out of 5 tweets are not associated with a sentiment, they are mostly questions and answers. People are seeking details missing from their usual source of information and helping others with their findings.

This latest data is additional proof that brands and products are at the heart of online conversations. Conversation strategies are a requirement for brands and it should be part of an overall strategy. A conversation strategy can be used, for example, to understand why a product is more popular than another, and what could be improved as far as service and customer relationship are concerned. It might also help to discover a problem with a product already on the market and identify what remedy could be taken; users generally have very insightful inputs that should be taken into account.

Listening and responding are even more important, in that they help brands greatly when they want to start a conversation with their customers, or any other people out there.

If most of the tweets about a brand are questions, brands themselves can provide fast and reliable information, which I have no doubt will have a positive impact on the prospect/brand relationship, and then on the client/brand relationship. That’s what Robin was saying when he explained that it was important to “engage in conversations in social media

Furthermore, the study shows that there can be a massive swing in sentiment from a studied period to another.

It’s probably obvious to all of you who are reading this, but conversations need constant monitoring, whether they happen on Twitter or elsewhere. It doesn’t stop at weekends: buying patterns and therefore exposure to corporate messages evolve constantly, and the strength of a brand is its ability to identify these variations and adapt to them. When We Are Social work on conversation audits for our clients, we often analyse the reactions of individuals to a brand at a precise moment, for example after the launch of a new TV ad campaign.

With the rise of microblogging, clients and individuals are exposed to a constant stream of information and opinions and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. These are rarely monitored by brands, so it’s high time for them to have a look and engage!