Thoughts on the appropriateness of Twitter as a channel of study

by Lee on June 28, 2011

The more I read about Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT) the more I am concerned that the 140-character limit of Twitter limits the usefulness of using Twitter as the channel being studied.

SCT uses, either singly or in combination, document search, personal interviews, focus groups and Q-sort instruments to gather data, then Q-technique, coding instruments and content analysis to count the data, followed by cross-tabulation, Q-type factor analysis and Step-Wise Discriminant Analysis as the methods of choice to analyse the data.

I can’t see organisations climbing over each other clamouring to be let into this research project if the project’s end result is going to be a waste of time for them. The unit of analysis – the tweet – is just too small to use effectively.

Perhaps far better would be to focus on using a company’s Facebook Page as the source of data. I can see organisations being more willing to look at that, simply because the conversations can be longer in character length and more able to be coded and analysed using the aforementioned methods. With a greater length of conversational unit under analysis, an outcome that companies can use is easier to ‘sell’ in the recruitment phase.

I am just nervous of saying, “I don’t know if any of the research is going to have any applicability after I’ve conducted it, and I know you are frightfully busy, but would you be willing to let me work with your comms team anyway?”

I know that there’s that wonderful quote attributed to Einstein, "if we knew what the outcome was going to be it wouldn’t be research, would it?" but I’m writing a recruitment letter and finding it hard to find a hook to hang a positive on for organisations so that they would want to be involved. Agreed, I’m unskilled at this and perhaps there are plenty of organisations that would welcome the opportunity to be involved in research like this…

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