FEATURE7 May 2009

Twinterview: Clearing up the confusion

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InSites Consulting’s Tom DeRuyck explains his hopes for the company’s investigation into the Twitterverse

UK— There was no argument really – an interview about a survey on Twitter users had to be conducted through Twitter.

Research news editor Brian Tarran and InSites Consulting’s R&D consultant Tom DeRuyck swapped direct messages this afternoon about the company’s newly-launched Ultimate Twitter Study.

Here is their discussion in full. (Note: Responses are limited to 140 characters. ‘/’ denotes the start of a new tweet.)

@researchlive What do you hope to get out of the Ultimate Twitter Study?

@tomderuyck We saw that – although there is a lot of buzz – there is little known about why people are on Twitter & what they want to reach with the medium /so, we thought it was the time to conduct a qual/quant study about it. And of course it’s great to do the study via Twitter itself :-) / Yesterday, we launched the qualitative part via ultimatetwitterstudy.com. Everyday there is a tweet of the day (a research question) / and the next day we provide the community with feedback, so it’s fun for them to take part. In the quant phase we will profile users and / try to come to a segmentation. Again we will give something back to the community, something very useful. But we still want to keep that / part a little secret :-) / Via the qual part, we want to create a nice community of Twitter-people. During the quant part we will provide them with small surveys. / We will also make use of textmining techniques and the API [application programming interface]. It’s really a project in which all fields of research are combined / or ‘fused', as we like to say, and social media is heavily used. And like I said the giving back to the community is very important for us.

@researchlive But what’s the ultimate aim – to assess Twitter as a research channel? Or to help your clients market themselves better through the site?

@tomderuyck Our ultimate aim is to know why people use Twitter and what the buzz is about. We see it first as an experiment in how researchers can make / use of existing natural platforms to get to know something very time- and cost-efficient. / The main goal is to understand the medium, but it could be that a nice research ‘tool’ is a second result of this gimmick…

@researchlive The word ‘confusing’ crops up a few times on the UTS website – do you think there will ever be a consensus on how Twitter should be used?

@tomderuyck The medium is rather ‘new', the concept too. People and brands are still learning how to make optimal use of it: personal branding, sharing /links with the crowd, asking questions, having a ‘real’ conversation with consumers or like minded people, … Just like with Facebook, / which has become mainstream, it will take a while before we understand the usefulness of the platform. Let’s hope this study / may take away some of the ‘confusion'.

@researchlive When do you expect the study to be completed? And how many people are you looking for to take part?

@tomderuyck The quali part will take us 3 weeks ( 15 tweets/questions). Then we will launch the first wave of the quant part and some follow-up studies. / We hope to finish the project by the end of June. But results will be shared in the meantime, almost on a daily basis. /We want to invite the whole Twitter community to take part, because in the end we are setting this up for them too. And, of course it would / nice to have as much followers as Oprah at the end of the project… :-) / So, spread the word! :-) And if you have suggestions for questions, adaptations to the site, give us a tweet. / And I really would like to thank all my team members at InSites, we had the idea on Monday and now it’s already live, great work!