Market Research?

Last week, I posted about a number of things as per usual.  One of them was called “Advanced Immediacy” where I took a look at how the advanced search form on Twitter lets you control, customize, and give yourself access to content that is happening right now.  Another way to look at what’s happening right now is to monitor the “trends” that you’ll find right on the opening page of Twitter itself.  In fact, this is what’s trending right now as I make this entry on a Monday mornng…

If you’re lazy, you can also follow RealTimeTrends or TweetingTrends and have trending topics available to you immediately.  Some desktop clients also have that functionality built right into them.  Equipped with these tools, you’ll know exactly what’s happening and what folks are posting to Twitter.  It’s a pretty good indication of society in general.  For example, early Sunday mornings you’ll find SNL on the trend list as people review the last night show and right now the names of colleges involved in the NCAA Basketball tournament tend to trend in and out.  It’s fascinating to follow – just leave Twhirl or whatever desktop client that you use open and follow along or refresh the Trends link or use Twitter Search or goodness knows whatever ways there are to accomplish the same task.  As the population using this service increases, so will the value of trends.
Other than for academic and current event reasons, does this really matter?

I would suggest that it indeed does and gets more important every day.  As more and more companies and services realize the reach of Twitter, it makes sense that they have someone monitor their brand name to see what the public is saying.  Are people interested in their service?  Are people dissatisfied with the service and letting the world know in this forum?  How do you protect your image?  If enough people start to talk about it, will your brand name start to trend?  Is this a good thing or is this a bad thing.

Let me give a couple of personal examples.

Last week, after St. Patrick’s Day, I happened to be watching the WPIX Morning News.  The weather person, Linda Church, was responding on air to someone who had complained that she didn’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.  In her response, she gave a very complete and succinct explanation about how green screen works for weather maps.  I thought that it was particularly well done and sent out a message about it and how it would be great for a Communications Technology class.  I was hoping that someone would indicate that they had recorded it and posted it to TeacherTube or YouTube and I was going to check it out for possible use.  Instead, I was followed by Twitter user WPIX.

Last night, I happened to be reading about Ubuntu 9.04 codenamed Jaunty Jackalope and I just threw out a message asking if anyone had been using it.  I was interested in first opinions on this potential upgrade.  I went to bed and woke this morning to a legion of Ubuntu users who have decided to follow me.  Except for this one obscure post, nobody would know (or even care) that I have a dual boot on my home desktop computer and am using Ubuntu as one of the OSs on it.  I also now have real users’ first hand opinion of this upgrade.

Even with these concrete examples, I continually run into people who “don’t get Twitter”.  My buddy Rodd posted this link last night.  Unfortunately, I think that many people view it this way.  As with all emerging technologies, it needs to be allowed to grow and mature.

Millions of people can’t be wrong.  Millions of people start trends.  The wise will take and use the best of this. Market researchers and brand name protectors sure are.

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links for 2009-03-22