OPINION1 May 2010

Chirpy chirpy tweet tweet

Opinion

Cliché has it that music hall performers who outstayed their welcome would get yanked off the stage with a shepherd’s crook. Research 2010 presenters who overran faced a somewhat less violent, though no less public, humiliation.

Cliché has it that music hall performers who outstayed their welcome would get yanked off the stage with a shepherd’s crook. Research 2010 presenters who overran faced a somewhat less violent, though no less public, humiliation.

This year’s conference will be remembered as being the one where Twitter made its mark as a widely used tool for the gathered delegates, critics, thinkers and timekeepers. Throughout the two-day event there was a constant tweet stream of sharing, commentary and opinion. Tweets showered bouquets on the worthy and brickbats on the worthless. And the deepest circle of Twitter hell was reserved for those that overran their alloted time.

Watching the #res10 feed update (archived here) in real time was like watching a focus group in full flow, with all its attendant strengths and weaknesses. The postings were insightful and wrongheaded, democratic and dominated by a few voices, full of common sense and completely mad. Welcome to the wonderful world of social media and instant reaction. This was scary stuff for those who ventured onto the platform as chairs, presenters or interviewees. Useful stuff, by all accounts, for those that could not attend the event.

There’s little doubt that the tweeting action at conference spurred debate, shared thinking and did much to aid networking. It was fascinating to watch it in action – there were a few examples of delegates who left one room in order to hear a speaker in the other on the strength of the other room’s tweets.

As an instantaneous tracker of opinion and comment Twitter is a pretty useful measure. And looking back at the Research 2010 stream after a month or so, it’s surprising how clearly one can identify broad themes and dominant sentiment from what, at the time, looked like random and ragged postings. If you were at conference does the feed reflect your experience?

By scouring through the Research 2010 twitter feed did I truly get an honest representation of delegate opinion? Probably not. Opinion gathered from social media offers a valuable narrative of verbatims that are unedited and unmoderated. As in any other research focus group, you have to weight, and in some cases filter out, the self-appointed gurus, the self-publicists and those dominant of voice. As any quallie will tell you that’s not always easy at the best of times.

The usual dangers lie in taking these social media insights at face value, but traditionalists take note – you can’t knock the immediacy and vibrancy of the ‘data’.

@RESEARCH LIVE

0 Comments