With more than 100  million twitter users world wide, it is no longer just a bunch of geeks sharing what they had for breakfast. The types of conversations and the uses for this flexible social media tool seem to expand almost as quickly as the user base.

On the surface, twitter is a great way to stay in touch with friends and associates, around the block and around the world.  Beyond that, once you build a following, twitter is a wonderful way to share news and information about your business.  You just have to remember to keep the personal, professional and shameless self promotion in balance.

This is only the beginning.   With users all around the world updating their status with photos and news events as it happens, Twitter is an incredible source of real time information.  Unfiltered, it gives you real time updates from around the neighborhood and around the world, rivaling news sources like the New York Times and CNN.

We have used Twitter to gather opinions and inputs, but now  researchers used an algorithm to parse the text in tweets about consumer confidence and Barak Obama’s job performance.

According to an article on the Harvard Business Review Blog, the results were compared to the Gallop Polls for Consumer Confidence Index andPresidential Approval Rating.

And for a tiny fraction of the cost of those omnibus surveys, the Twitter analysis reported roughly the same confidence and approval numbers.

Will this spell the end of polling?  Probably not, but it will make data and analysis of consumers trends much more accessible for smaller firms.   Polling today.. what’s next?  I don’t know, I think I  will ask my followers on Twitter.


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