A Pennsylvania State University research team has released data suggesting that one in five tweets are effectively free brand advertising.

According to Jim Jansen, associate professor of information science and technology in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), people are using tweets to express their reaction, both positive and negative, as they engage with these products and services.

Jansen, along with IST doctoral student Mimi Zhang, undergraduate student Kate Sobel and Twitter chief scientist Abdur Chowdhury, investigated micro-communicating as an electronic word-of-mouth medium, using Twitter as the platform.

The researchers examined half a million tweets during the study, looking for tweets mentioning a brand and why the brand was mentioned. The study found that people were using tweets to connect with products.

Results from the study found that many users employ Twitter to inquire about product information. Approximately 20% of the tweets contained product information in the
form of asking and providing, thus giving companies a rich source of
information concerning issues and questions that customers have
regarding their products.

There is a trend when it comes to micro-communication and what it is used for, according to Jansen:

“Businesses use micro-communication for brand awareness, brand knowledge and customer relationship, Personal use is all over the board.”

Even though Twitter is still in its early stages of adoption, Jansen stressed that it’s likely to be around for a while. This is mainly because people and businesses are starting to make profits from it, using it as a creative way to market their products.

“A lot of the brand comments were positive. There are some good products out there, or at least products that people are happy with,” exclaimed Jansen.