JMCQUARRIE.co.uk

James McQuarrie is a London (UK) based User Experience Consultant who designs and helps build digital products & services that delight their users.

Opening my eyes to the wider Twitter Universe

At DAD we recently set up some automated searches on Twitter (and a couple of other social media sites) to look for people tweeting about things that we think our Experts would be able to help with. Things like “broken boiler”, “no hot water”, etc.

Our hope is that by being alerted when people are talking about and looking for help with Home Repairs we can learn a few things:

  • Firstly what type of home repair problems people talk about and share online (our search term list is much longer than the examples above)
  • Secondly we hope to find people who are in need of help and reply to them to see if our offering is relevant and of use. With a service like DAD we can learn a bit from talking to people who don’t have a current home repair problem, but our learning is limited. We really need to talk to people with a “need state” who have a real world problem that they need advice about or help fixing. Talking to folks in a need state helps us validate our offering and kick the tires of our app
  • Finally while not a definitive representation of the market, we hope that by keeping an eye on social media we can get a feel for the demand in the market. If we see 10 posts a day that suggests a different sized market to seeing 100 posts a day, etc.

We’ve not gathered enough data yet to be able to draw too many conclusions, but I have noticed at least one thing: Based purely on our Twitter results so far (a few days) I’ve realised how blinkered my experience on Twitter really is.

I’ve been using Twitter since 2009 and follow about 400 people. Most of them are people I either know (friends, colleagues, etc) or people I admire in the industry.

I don’t see eye to eye with everyone I follow about everything, but as a whole they are a fairly similar group. Mainly tech aware. Almost exclusively Western. Mostly involved in design, development, tech, etc.

I’ve always been subconsciously aware of the fact I’m viewing Twitter through a self-chosen filter bubble that means I don’t see a lot of what’s going on outside of my little echo chamber.

Having now seen the results coming through from our DAD related searches, I’m now even more aware of my self-selected filter.

For example; I rarely see much swearing in my feed. In our search results there is a lot.

Most of the folks I follow and interact with (being tech savvy) “get” Twitter. A lot of the tweets we’re seeing in the search results (and just generally with the @dad account) suggest that a lot of people don’t understand how things like “@ replying” work. This isn’t a huge surprise (one of the biggest criticisms of Twitter is that it’s hard to explain and understand how to use it) but I wasn’t quite prepared for the number of folks who don’t quite get it.

It’s early days in our data gathering, but I’m already enjoying learning more about how people outside of my bubble use Twitter and having some real data to point to when reminding myself and the team that not everyone is the same.