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How to Use Twitter to Monitor Consumer Trends and Tastes

Date: February 05, 2010

You might already promote your small business on Twitter, but have you ever thought of using it to research larger consumer trends? Your Twitter account gives you valuable access to unfiltered consumer opinion, provided you know how to tap into it. Here's how to do it.

Search Tweets by Keywords

Using Twitter's advanced search option gives you a great way to sample consumer sentiments. For example, let's say that partners in a sporting goods store in Cleveland want to get an idea of how many pairs of Kobe Bryant's new Nikes they will be able to sell in a city filled with LeBron James fans.

First, the store owners would want to go to search.twitter.com, and then click on the advanced option. They would type in the search phrase "Kobe shoes" and select other useful options, such as "place," which allows users to read only the Tweets originating from their chosen location.

It will become clear after reading the first few pages of Tweets that the majority of Twitter-using basketball fans in the Cleveland area will be sticking with the LeBron James Nikes. However, a few local users admire the looks of the Kobe model, which would be enough positive reaction for the store owner to keep a few pairs in stock.

Follow Industry Tastemakers

You can also follow influential Twitter users by going to Twitter's homepage, logging in and clicking on "find people" at the top of the page. Next, click on "browse suggestions," and choose your areas of interest.The Cleveland sporting goods store owner, for example, would click on "sports," and he could then opt to follow the Tweets of Cleveland Cavaliers player Shaquille O'Neal, as well as any other Twitter-using athletes who might have an influence on consumer trends. You can find others to follow by category with Twellow and WeFollow.

Follow Popular Topics

Before you sign in to your Twitter account, it's a good idea to pay attention to the popular topics of the week, day and minute, which are displayed on the homepage. This can be a great way to keep your attention on the pulse of consumer interests, and maybe even translate them into sales. Even a sporting goods store owner might consider ordering a few Team Conan shirts when he sees how many people are Tweeting about their support for Conan O'Brien. Tweetmeme can show you popular topics and links.

While Twitter certainly does not represent all consumer sentiment, it can provide you with an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the public’s interests and tastes. Not bad for a free resource.

NFIB is on Twitter: Follow us @nfib and @NFIBlive

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