Don’t believe everything you read on Twitter

Twitter and opinionTwitter is amazing – it can accurately predict the box office success of a new movie and it can also tell you which company shares are going to do well. Research on box office success has shown that Twitter activity is an excellent predictor of how well that movie will do. Similarly, studies on the share price of companies have demonstrated a clear link between what is said on Twitter and the value of firms. Indeed, if you want to know where to invest then TweetTrader is a good place to start.

Yet, new research on Twitter shows it is pretty much useless at predicting public opinion. In one example, 59% of people on Twitter said that President Obama did a great job in his first Presidential debate last October. But public opinion research showed that only 20% of Americans actually thought that.

So what is going on? How can Twitter be good at predicting some things, but useless at predicting others? After all, in the case on the research on public opinion, the volume of Tweets was massive, so you would think it would be representative.

It’s all about the kind of people who use Twitter – a mixture of demographics and personality types. The people who use Twitter tend to be those with fast-thinking and fast-reacting personality features. They are not the kind of people who mull over things, who consider all angles and sides to an argument before making a decision. And what kind of people work in the City? Well, yes, they are the kind of people who need to think quickly and react to titbits of information, rather than taking hours to consider things. Any wonder there is a link between Twitter and share price?

Similarly, film-goers are often people who either go to see their favourite star actor – not really caring what the film is about – or go on a whim because they think they’ll like the film. There is no great, intense discussion or debate about a trip to the movies.

However, when it comes to our opinions on political events, for instance, there is sometimes more thoughtful debate and discussion before people make their mind up about a situation. And that means the instant reaction on Twitter may well not reflect what people actually think.

It is all a reminder that even though Twitter is popular and an important tool for business communication we need to take it with a proverbial dose of salt. Tweets about your industry, profession or even you or your business may be representative, but they may also present you with a false picture.

We should all be careful to consider our kinds of customers and how they think. If they are fast-thinkers, reactive kind of people, then Twitter will probably represent their views. But if our customers are more thoughtful and consider things in detail, Twitter may well be leading us in the wrong direction.

Like this article?

Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on email
Share via email

Other posts that might be of interest

Internet Psychology

Is your brain back to front?

British businesses will spend this weekend on tenterhooks as they wait for Monday’s announcement from the Government about the ending of lockdowns. For the past couple of weeks, the mutterings from 10 Downing Street suggest

Read More »
Internet Psychology

Can you do boring tasks?

Last week, not far from the M25 in Buckinghamshire, the biggest-ever boring machine in the UK started its slow churn through the Chiltern hills to dig a tunnel for the HS2 rail system. It will

Read More »
Fence painting
Online Business

When did you last paint your garden fence?

If you are a “big change” business, then you are like my garden fence. Leaving it unpainted for so long has created much more work, at a higher cost, than if it had been tended to every year. Ignoring reviews of your online activity for long periods also means you make more work for yourself and raise your costs.

Read More »