A study by a research team at Penn State has found that 20% of Tweets tend to be brand-related, for better or for worse.
"People are using tweets to express their reaction, both positive and negative, as they engage with these products and services," said Jim Jansen, associate professor of information science and technology. "Tweets are about as close as one can get to the customer point of purchase for products and services."
Alongside IST doctoral student Mimi Zhang, undergrad Kate Sobel and Twitter CSO Abdur Chowdhury, examined the phenomenon of micro-communicating, particularly its value as a word-of-mouth medium. Over a half-million tweets were reviewed over the course of their observation.
Specifically, the team sought out tweets that mention brands to find out why the brand was mentioned — to review a product, inform others, or otherwise — and discovered that brand-tweeters do so in order to connect with products.
"Businesses use micro-communication for brand awareness, brand knowledge and customer relationship," Janson said. "Personal use is all over the board." He added, "It may be right up there with e-mail in terms of its communication impact."
20% of the tweets contained product information in the form of asking or providing, lending companies — which increasingly use Twitter for brand-building, brand awareness and CRM — a "rich source" of information regarding their wares.
"A lot of the brand comments were positive," he admitted. "There are some good products out there, or at least products that people are happy with."
This is among the first academic studies in the arena of micro-communication in business. Jansen is using it to lay groundwork for other oeuvres, including a study that queries how companies manage and use their Twitter accounts.