The Benefits Of Twitter From A Market Researcher's Perspective

Seth Godin recently wrote a blog post called 'Modern Procrastination' which caused quite a stir in the twitter community: it got retweeted more than 1150 times! The main message of his post was that idea workers are "misusing Twitter, Facebook and various forms of digital networking to  avoiding difficult (and apparently risky) intellectual labor." (You can read the full post here)

Although I don't fully agree with him that this behavior is driven by social networking (I for example believe that email, IM, or even colleagues can be equally disturbing and distracting than Facebook or twitter) it did get me thinking on my own use of (especially) twitter. One thing is definitely true, it does take a lot of time. I spend easily 30 to 60 minutes a day checking out twitter messages, clicking on links, and reading articles - time I spend differently before I started using twitter (only a couple of months ago).

So what does it bring me? Is this a good investment of my clocked hours? I definitely believe it is. Why? Because although it does require some time investment, it makes me better in my work. Instead of checking out multiple websites to update myself on market research news I subscribe for example to twitter feeds of Research Magazine (@researchlive), Esomar (@ESOMAR), and the AMA (@amamrc). These tweets give me a good idea on what happens in the industry.

Next to this I follow some research providers, news sources or bloggers that regularly have interesting insights related to what I'm working on (technology, marketing, and MR). Companies I follow include Forrester (@forrester) of course, Pew Research (@pewresearch), but also ChinaPrime (@ChinaPrime), ReadWriteWeb (@rww), AdAge (@adage), and iMedia (@imediatweet). 

To keep up to date with the discussions in the market research industry, and to understand what's hot and what's not, I follow some individuals whose opinion I respect and whose tweets and blogs I enjoy reading like for example Jeffrey Henning from Vovici (@JHenning), Cathy Harrison (@VirtualMR), Kathryn Korostoff (@ResearchRocks), Tom Ewing from Kantar (@tomewing), or Joel Rubinson from the ARF (@joelrubinson). And finally I follow some vendors like Communispace, Brainjuicer, Ipsos Mori, and TNS Global.

I feel the time I spend on twitter definitely balances out the knowledge I gain. Twitter makes it easy for me to stay up to date on trends in different regions, on a wide range of organizations and topics. It helps me to get multiple opinions on a topic and gain a lot of new insights. Twitter feeds are also a great way to learn something new, both on a professional level (I found for example the blog www.futureofinsight.com, or the interactive graphic website www.flowingdata.com through feeds), but also more personal facts like that there are heavy thunder storms in San Francisco, while it's excellent weather to play cricket in Australia.

Some personal lessons learned during the past couple of months:

  1. Only check twitter a couple of times a day (and couple means not more than two or three times). Seth is right in stating that all the interesting tidbits shared can easily eat away your day.
  2. Keep the number of tweeters you follow ('following') manageable. My personal maximum is about 100, after that the number of tweets becomes overwhelming and I can't find interesting insights between all the updates anymore.

How about you? Do you agree with Seth, are twitter and Facebook the modern way to procrastinate? Do you believe the more people you follow the better or do you also have a certain threshold? And I welcome your opinion on the value of twitter to your role.

As a side note, we're currently working on a research document on how market researchers can use social media to do research - a whole different topic! Tamara Barber (@tamarabarber) is the analyst, and I'm sure she'd love to hear your opinion on this. She'll blog about this in the next weeks.

Comments

A lot of other benefits

Twitter has a lot of other benefits for a business. Check this out

http://www.buzzingup.com/2010/07/buy-stuff-and-pay-with-your-tweets/

Glad I found your post on

Glad I found your post on Twitter. I agree with you on this. It's nice how this Twitter can help us with marketing and driving traffic and also to be able to send updates to clients.

Great post!

re: The Benefits Of Twitter From A Market Researcher's Perspect

Great post! I use Twitter in this way also and find that my own insight about not only research issues/trends, but what's interesting to people, is expanded hugely. This makes me much more valuable to my clients.

Another benefit of Twitter that you didn't mention, but obviously use, is the ability to drive traffic to your posts and increase awareness in what you and Forrester are up to...I love having a way to get people to my blog...it keeps me blogging!

re: The Benefits Of Twitter From A Market Researcher's Perspect

Thanks Jen,
Yes, of course, visibility is also a part of it, I like to share my views with the world and it's nice if people actually read my posts - and twitter definitely helps with that as this post has proven. But visibility isn't relevant for all market researchers, information gathering is.

Another purpose for twitter I haven't shared above, but that works quite well for me is to use tweets as an archive. I regularly run into an article or blog post I like but that doesn't fit with what I'm working on at that moment. When I tweet about it, my tweets acts as my archive. Works very well (at least up til now, not sure what happens when I've posted more than 1,000 tweets...).

re: The Benefits Of Twitter From A Market Researcher's Perspect

I go on cycles between Twitter & Facebook.. On occasion linked-in. I have some crossover of friends but mostly two different groups. I find that the majority of the time that I spend in the social media world, is through my iPhone. While I do access at work through the computer - smart phones make it that much easier and accessible.

Recently though, I have been thinking about sm differently. Two points here:
1. The Daily human engagement number - the total gross amount of han engagents on a daily basis has increased dramatically - so I am rethinking what the medium is the message really means.
2. Regardless what night it is, I spend a significant amount of time socializing - either online or off - net/net - is there really a difference?

re: The Benefits Of Twitter From A Market Researcher's Perspect

I don't agree, but i guess you knew that already :-)

Use Twitter like you do, talking to people in real life. For business it is good to talk to as much people you can who really matter. I don't think you should keep that under 100 or 'only two times a day'.

Ofcourse i agree that you can't do you work if you twitter all day long and you should have focus/concentration moments during your work day. Twitter lists can help you following a core of people that really matter to you.

I am a powertweep because it gives me inspiration, news, energy, interesting contacts and a LOT of (new) business. You should try it too ;-)

re: The Benefits Of Twitter From A Market Researcher's Perspect

You mentioned that you "Keep the number of tweeters you follow ('following') manageable. My personal maximum is about 100, after that the number of tweets becomes overwhelming and I can't find interesting insights between all the updates anymore."

Quick fix for this: Start using the Twitter list feature. Makes following people more manageable. I have a social media list that i follow so if I just want to get my social media news I click it (http://twitter.com/#/list/natashaattal/socialmedia). If I want to get my real estate news, I click my real estate list. Creating these lists takes some time if you follow a lot of people but it is very effective

Here is the link to how to use twitter lists: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-market-your-business-with-twitter-lists/

re: The Benefits Of Twitter From A Market Researcher's Perspect

Thank you John and Natasha for your comments.

John, I do see your point but people use twitter with different goals in mind. I wrote this post to help market researchers understand how they could use twitter in their job and for the majority this will be mostly about information gathering and less about creating visibility for themselves. But as you've proven, twitter can work very well to create new business and organize a successful event.

Natasha, thank you for the tip. I hadn't figured out the lists yet - I will certainly try it out.

re: The Benefits Of Twitter From A Market Researcher's Perspect

I totally agree! It's amazing how this social site can help us with our promotion plus the idea that we will learn about our client's needs and thinking.

By the way, nice post!

Cheers.