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Information Ahead of Opinion on Twitter

A customer service opportunity

October 2, 2009

Marketers monitoring Twitter for mentions of their brand may have noticed that microbloggers are more likely to give or seek information than to sound off about a product, good or bad.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University studied nearly 150,000 tweets that named brands and found that nearly one-half of them were simply “comments”—posts that mentioned a brand, but where the primary focus was something else. A further 18.1% were information-providing and 11.1% were information-seeking.

Tweets that Mention Brands, by Category, April-July 2008 (% of total)

That left just 22.3% of tweets about brands that expressed an opinion one way or another. The good news for marketers: Twitter users were much more likely to express positive sentiments than negative.

One-third of all tweets that expressed brand-related sentiment were “great,” and nearly one-fifth were “swell,” according to the labeling scheme used by the researchers.

Tweets that Mention Brands, by Sentiment, April-July 2008 (% of total)

While brands often worry about consumers bad-mouthing them via social media, they are also aware of the potential for communicating with customers via channels such as Twitter. More than two-thirds of Fortune 100 companies studied by Burson-Marsteller tweeted about customer service or direct marketing responses in July 2009.

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Check out today’s other article, “The Future of Social Shopping.”

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