I read an interesting research piece from the Pew Research Center where they highlight the differing opinions of Twitter users and non-Twitter users. The research over a period of year, and published last year, looked at reactions on Twitter to major political events and policy decisions in the US compared to public opinion as measured by surveys.
The conclusion is that opinions differ greatly. There are various reasons why, with the study pointing to variations in the demographic of Twitter users vs the public. The study concludes “the reaction to political events on Twitter reflects a combination of the unique profile of active Twitter users and the extent to which events engage different communities and draw the comments of active users.”
What this study does highlight to me is that over reliance on metrics of social media to inform decision-making is not always the best route to take. There needs to be an appreciation that social media is one of many channels of communication and it needs to be taken into the context of wider communications.
When looking at social media there needs to be an understanding of what is being said and by who and not just believing social media is a number that needs to be just tracked and measured. That is not to say metrics should be ignored, there just needs to be an appreciation of what the metrics represent and mean and how they can help drive decision-making as part of an integrated communications strategy.