Ultimate Twitter Research Study

May 11, 2009
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I’m posting a brief interview with Tom De Ruyck who is Connected Research Manager at InSites Consulting as well as Co-founder & Steering Committee Member of the European/Belgian Market Research Association BAQMaR. Coincidentally I will be the keynote speaker at this years’ BAQMaR conference in December. The conference will focus on social media research.

Today I’m asking Tom a few questions about the ‘Ultimate Twitter Study’ his firm has just launched.

Anderson: What do you hope to get out of the Ultimate Twitter Study?

De Ruyck: We saw that – although there is a lot of buzz – there is little known about why people are on Twitter & what they want to reach with the medium so, we thought it was the time to conduct a qual/quant study about it. And of course it’s great to do the study via Twitter itself :-) Yesterday, we launched the qualitative part via ultimatetwitterstudy.com. Everyday there is a tweet of the day (a research question) and the next day we provide the community with feedback, so it’s fun for them to take part. In the quant phase we will profile users and try to come to a segmentation. Again we will give something back to the community, something very useful

I’m posting a brief interview with Tom De Ruyck who is Connected Research Manager at InSites Consulting as well as Co-founder & Steering Committee Member of the European/Belgian Market Research Association BAQMaR. Coincidentally I will be the keynote speaker at this years’ BAQMaR conference in December. The conference will focus on social media research.

Today I’m asking Tom a few questions about the ‘Ultimate Twitter Study’ his firm has just launched.

Anderson: What do you hope to get out of the Ultimate Twitter Study?

De Ruyck: We saw that – although there is a lot of buzz – there is little known about why people are on Twitter & what they want to reach with the medium so, we thought it was the time to conduct a qual/quant study about it. And of course it’s great to do the study via Twitter itself :-) Yesterday, we launched the qualitative part via ultimatetwitterstudy.com. Everyday there is a tweet of the day (a research question) and the next day we provide the community with feedback, so it’s fun for them to take part. In the quant phase we will profile users and try to come to a segmentation. Again we will give something back to the community, something very useful. But we still want to keep that part a little secret :-) Via the qual part, we want to create a nice community of Twitter-people. During the quant part we will provide them with small surveys. We will also make use of textmining techniques and the API [application programming interface]. It’s really a project in which all fields of research are combined or ‘fused’, as we like to say, and social media is heavily used. And like I said the giving back to the community is very important for us.

Anderson: What’s the ultimate aim – to assess Twitter as a research channel? Or to help your clients market themselves better through the site?

De Ruyck: Our ultimate aim is to know why people use Twitter and what the buzz is about. We see it first as an experiment in how researchers can make use of existing natural platforms to get to know something very time- and cost-efficient. The main goal is to understand the medium, but it could be that a nice research ‘tool’ is a second result of this gimmick…

Anderson: Why did you pick Twitter for this project rather than one of the other SNS?

De Ruyck: A lot of people are talking about Twitter as a new distribution channel and communication medium. To say even more, it’s the hype of the moment (even Oprah joins it, so :-)), but there is little in-depth (market) research done about it in terms of drivers to be on the platform, profiles of users,…

Next to that, the speed by which answers are given to questions and the ease by which something is forwarded (’retweeted’) opens opportunities for market research (e.g. in terms of an extra or other channel for data collection). We believe that our current experiment will be able to answer a lot of questions marketers and researchers have about the possibilities of Twitter as a communication and research tool.

Furthermore, it gives our IT and panel crew the opportunity to play with API’s and communication via natural SNS instead of e-mail (which is less and less effective in research projects).

Anderson: Can you tell me a bit about how the various SNS are viewed in Europe. I know Xing was very popular in Germany. Are you familiar with what the most popular SNS are in Belgium and how does this differ from other European countries?

De Ruyck: In Belgium Facebook is the most popular SN among a broad range of age groups. We also have Netlog (a Belgian based SN for youngsters) that is popular in the whole of Europe among especially teenagers (due to the specific content that is on it: games, collecting coins for goodies, …).

The overall situation may be seen as follows: Facebook is the network for sharing private stuff (pictures, thoughts, wishes, …), LinkedIn for business and personal branding within your industry & Netlog is the place to hang around for youth. Twitter is still in a phase of being new and especially popular among the early adopters (marketers, geeks, artists, …). I believe we need another year for Twitter to become as mainstream as Facebook (if nothing happens in the meanwhile (like Facebook or LinkedIn copying the functionalities of Twitter, which could be terrible for the Twitter guys I believe).

Anderson: When do you expect the study to be completed? How many people are you looking to sample?

De Ruyck: The quali part will take us 3 weeks (15 tweets/questions). Then we will launch the first wave of the quant part and some follow-up studies. We hope to finish the project by the end of June. But results will be shared in the meantime, almost on a daily basis. We want to invite the whole Twitter community to take part, because in the end we are setting this up for them too. And, of course it would nice to have as much followers as Oprah at the end of the project… :-) So, spread the word! :-) And if you have suggestions for questions, adaptations to the site, give us a tweet. And I really would like to thank all my team members at InSites, we had the idea on Monday and now it’s already live, great work!

Anderson: That’s great, interestingly Anderson Analytics will also be releasing results of a large social media study in June. For your ultimate twitter study, what were your thoughts on sampling, this is a convenience sample right?

De Ruyck: This is indeed a convenience sample. The first part of the project is a qualitative study among Twitter users, so in this case a convenience sample may do the job. In the upcoming quantitative project, we will start profiling users. Profiles will be used to target participants for the text mining phase and the follow-up questionnaires.
In general, Twitter raises questions in terms of sampling the moment you start using it as a research tool, we hope we are able to come-up with some guidelines and limitations after this project.

Anderson: What have you learned so far?

De Ruyck: ‘What are you doing?’ – the question Twitter is asking us all the time – is actually the wrong one. ‘What do you want to share?’ would actually be much better!

If we would have to summarize the main associations from our community with ‘Twitter’ it would be: ‘A social network of friends and/or business contacts where you can share and discover interesting, exciting, inspiring or funny news/links in a very fast way’.

It is about being in the know and staying up-to-date, not about status updates! Last but not least we notice some ‘confusion’ on how twitter should, may or can be used… Taking this away will be the ultimate goal of this project!

Anderson: Will the report be available to everyone afterwards, if so I could post a link to it here?

De Ruyck: The final report will be available on www.ultimatetwitterstudy.com by the end of June (once the 3 phases – QL (15 tweets of the day) / TM (on the 20 latest tweets of all our followers) & QT (profiling and segmentation of our participants) – are done and analyzed).

Anderson: Can you give me short instructions on how to participate if someone is interested?

De Ruyck: Every day there will be one single question send to you via Twitter and published on www.ultimatetwitterstudy.com. It would be great if you could answer to it via Twitter (in English) using #TwitterStudyQ(question number) at the end of your tweet (so we are able to follow the answers easily). We will provide you with a new question/tweet every working day for the coming 3 weeks.

Example:

Question from us (via Twitter): Q1: What words do you spontaneously associate with ‘TWITTER’? #TwitterStudyQ1
Answer from you (via Twitter): association 1, association 2, association 3, … #TwitterStudyQ1

Anderson: Thanks Tom, I’ll definitely be participating, you can look for tweets from @tomhcanderson

Good Luck!

 

 

Link to original postTom H. C. Anderson – Anderson Analytics