The unexpected decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committe to award U.S. President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 caused a flood of reactions on Twitter. Several people in my Twitter stream were highly critical and for example Simon Sundén noted that the deadline for the Peace Prize nomination was only 12 days after the inauguration of Barack Obama. Simon also posted this photo of the front page of the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet today. Headline “What a joke!”.
Then again, you might only see what you want to see, so it’s interesting to read this fresh study from a company called Attensity. They analyzed some 25,000 tweets about the Prize and found that a majority, or 62%, of tweets were positive.
According to the analysis, 54% of the tweets felt Obama deserved the Peace Prize.
I don’t know whether the results from the analysis are accurate or if they include several languages or not. But either way, it is a good example of how you can use the Twittersphere as a giant focus group. If you have the right tools, it’s possible to quite quickly take the temperature on how people react to a news story. Sure, Twitter users are not representative of the entire population but they are the ones who are vocal and influence others so it might be good to know their reactions.
Update: On the other hand, Mashable also looked at what people tweeted and found that a majority of those tweets “didn’t get it”. It is however not disclosed what methodology Mashable used. Did they just analyse those four phrases, or what? (hat tip to @Daria)
The conclusion is that there is a vast amount of data on Twitter to be analyzed, but you need to know what you’re doing, or you might just as well turn to palm reading.