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Twitter can track opinions — for certain kinds of people

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: A recent study shows Twitter isn’t a perfect measure of public opinion — but researchers say it shows promise in that field. How accurately do you think Twitter reflects public opinion?

  • Twitter’s user base is highly skewed. It’s very good at reflecting the opinions of certain kinds of people – 62.30%
  • I’m skeptical of anything that comes out of Twitter – 19.44%
  • Twitter is really good at tracking opinion on certain topics and completely out of touch on others – 16.67%
  • Twitter is a perfect reflection of what people all over the world think, feel and believe – 1.59%

In a recent SBoSM essay, editor Jesse Stanchak asked if Twitter was past its marketing prime. One particular response from a commenter caught my attention: “Twitter’s effectiveness as a marketing tool lies in its ability to measure the total conversation in aggregate, for whatever value that provides to marketers.”

“For whatever value that provides to marketers,” is the key phrase. I think that Twitter is useful for checking the pulse of consumers on certain topics, and probably less useful for others. Still, if you want to know what people are thinking at any given moment, it’s not a bad place to go.

Paul Chaney is an Internet marketing consultant, sought after speaker and author of “The Digital Handshake: Seven Proven Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media,” published by Wiley. Paul sits on the advisory boards for the Social Media Marketing Institute, Modern Media Man Summit and Women’s Wisdom Network.