Paul M. Banas on Consumer Insights, Marketing Research, and the Digital Media Landscape
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Twitter As The New Focus Group

The past week has seen a tipping point for Twitter, with the cultural touchstone being Oprah starting her twitter career @oprah on Friday, and by Monday morning having over 400,000 followers.

Twitter itself has seen tremendous adoption growth in the past couple of months, most driven by the cult of celebrity that has grown up around people such as Ashton Kutcher and Shaquille O’Neal.

twitter-growth

And according to this ComScore post by Sarah Radwanick, this growth is occurring across a wide swath of US demographics:

twitter-demographics

What this broad demographic representation means is that Twitter may now be set to become the new holy grail for researchers looking for insights into what a wide range consumers are thinking and talking about.

The first application is monitoring the Twitter conversation around brands and ideas, which can be done very cheaply and efficiently.

The next level will be to approach Twitter as a focus group.  Tropicana found this out the hard way, with consumer feedback on Twitter coming fast and furious in the wake of its recent package change.

As Peter Shankman points out in this New York Times article on the Tropicana package change:

“Twitter is the ultimate focus group,” Mr. Shankman said. “I can post something and in a minute get feedback from 700 people around the world, giving me their real opinions.”

However, in the case of marketers like Tropicana, the trick will be to harness the insight power of Twitter before the product, package, or advertising makes it way into broader distribution.

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