Twitter Tinkers with Perception of Public Opinion

People tweet about headlines and tweets make headlines. Every day, brands (including products, people, and institutions) use Twitter to promote an idea or persuade others to act (e.g. visit a website, share a link, or join a cause). It's common knowledge that Twitter, the second most popular social media site in the world, is a basic 'go-to' for brands - especially politicians and other public figures (hey, even the Pope used it). They use it every day to talk with their fans or constituents, listen to what they have to say, and build relationships.

The Twitter-verse is a big and busy place; but is it as big as it seems?

According to the Pew Research Center, which released its 2012 biennial news consumption survey, just 13% of adults said they ever use Twitter or read Twitter messages. Among them, only 3% said they regularly or sometimes tweet or retweet news or news headlines.

Pew's report found that Twitter reactions to news and politics are often at odds with overall public opinion. How can the Twitter-verse, which seems so large and all-encompassing of society, miss the mark on what average people are saying? Well, for starters, not everyone tweets about politics and news (only 3% do that), nor do they express how they feel about it. Another reason for missing the mark is that 50% of the adults on Twitter are under the age of 30 and 57% of them identify as Democrats; which may represent young voters but doesn't necessarily representative our nation's demographics, painting a different perception of public opinion in the Twitter-verse.

Pew's data offers new insights for brands on Twitter.

In marketing, two of the first things communicators should ask themselves are: "Where's the evidence that my message will reach its target audience?" and "What's the benefit?"

While politicians flood Twitter to influence public opinion, is there evidence that there message is reaching its target audience? It depends, but we'll let their evidence decide for itself.

Twitter may not be the best channel for all politicians to reach their constituents, but it's one of their best chances for reaching the media and other influencers who do reach them. And if they want to build their brand, they need to learn how to do it in 140 characters or less.

Take a minute to check out Pew's report, draw your own insights, and share them here. What questions does this raise in politicians or public figures using social media, what (if any) does it answer? Looking forward to hearing what you think!

Category: Finance Viewing 9046 | Added in May 1, 2014

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