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Live from #SXSW: How market research can benefit from Twitter

3 min read

Digital Technology

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This guest post is by Daley Epstein, a contributing writer for SmartBrief. She is reporting live from South by Southwest in Austin this week.

Focus groups and surveys are great for market research. But what’s even better? Twitter, according to Elizabeth Winkler, a research associate at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. Focus groups are time consuming: You only get a sample size, and people are often paid for their time — which can sway answers. Tweets are raw and honest: They happen live on the spot, giving true perceptions from anywhere in the world.

An area where Winkler’s research proved effective is in predicting movie sales, as rises and falls in Twitter chatter directly correlated with ticket sales of 60 tracked movies, including “The Hangover” and “Land of The Lost.” Winkler and her team tracked a 90-day analysis of all tweets that mentioned the movies (excluding promotional tweets), beginning two weeks before their releases. Through her data, she could predict the amount of revenue that movies would bring in on a given day.

By monitoring its tweets, Dell was able to respond quickly to customer complaints. A few weeks after the launch of one of their products, there was an influx of tweets complaining that two of the keys were too close together. As a result, they fixed the problem in time for the product’s second launch. That’s not something you can get from a week-long focus group lacking extended experience with the product. Twitter can help you know if you need to do a product recall, or if your product has a flaw worthy of repairing before the next shipment goes out.

Apple recognized the influx of people in Austin, Texas, because of the South by Southwest festival. Realizing the likelihood of attendees wanting to purchase the iPad 2, they opened up an additional Apple Store for the sole purpose of selling the new gadget. Long lines outside the store proved this effort was a worthwhile one.

Twitter can help you save money in market research, and get ideas for future products, as customers may tweet out ideas you can actualize. Are you utilizing Twitter’s potential to benefit your company to the fullest?