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Webinar Details

Twitter and Public Opinion Research: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How!

Joe Murphy and Carol Haney

Thursday, February 21, 2013

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About this Course

Twitter is a social microblogging platform that has rapidly increased in popularity over the last five years.  Users log on and enter messages (“Tweets”) of 140 characters or less, essentially broadcasting them to the world.  While much of the information posted on Twitter is difficult to discern meaning from, the sheer magnitude of users and Tweets has provided a wealth of information to researchers on important social topics. 

For example, on the day of the recent 2012 U.S. election, Twitter hit a peak of 327,452 tweets per minute and an overall of 31 million tweets just discussing the election.  

Some researchers have approached the “mining” of this Twitter data using a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods.  Others, noting the lack of solid information about exactly who Tweets and who does not, see Twitter as a non-representative source of information and have decided to ignore the stream of data altogether. 

Join us for a 90-minute webinar to learn more about strengths and weaknesses in utilizing Twitter for social research, and how the advent of social networks is impacting traditional research approaches. We will also share our framework for approaching an analysis of this large-n text stream.

Learning Objectives:

  • What Twitter is and who uses it.
  • How Twitter may be a useful resource for public opinion research.
  • The trade-offs involved in using social media data for public opinion research.
  • How one can use an introductory approach to analytically reading the Twitter pipe and current text analytic techniques and limitations.

About the Instructors

ImageJoe Murphy, MA, is a survey methodologist at RTI International with more than 15 years of experience researching the causes and solutions for issues related to survey quality and managing survey projects. His research focuses on the implementation of new data collection processes, new data sources, and analytic techniques to maximize data quality, increase response, and reduce costs. His recent work has been centered on data sources and techniques such as Internet search patterns, social media data analysis (e.g., Twitter), data visualization, crowdsourcing, and social research in virtual worlds. Mr. Murphy is the Director of the Program on Digital Technology and Society in RTI’s Survey Research Division. The program investigates the role of new technologies and social media in survey and social research. Mr. Murphy also has significant research experience in the substantive areas of hospitals and health care, substance use and mental health, population registries and energy. Mr. Murphy is also a proficient SAS programmer, experienced in the manipulation of large data sets.  


ImageCarol Haney is Vice President and Head of Product Marketing at Toluna with more than 15 years of experience working with respondent data and other related, large data sets.  Before joining Toluna, Ms. Haney was the thought leader in the development of Research LifeStreaming at Harris Interactive, an industry-changing method of doing data collection by panel-based social media listening.  Using Research LifeStreaming techniques as well as other research methods, Ms. Haney led the formative research for the largest anti-smoking consumer education campaign sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ms. Haney has served in leadership roles at TNS, SPSS, and the National Opinion Research Center.  At SPSS, consulting with the CDC, Carol helped reduce critical field cycle time by 60% for infectious disease surveillance data collection.  At NORC, Carol was Director of Data Services and helped develop a high-performance mechanism for marking area probability sample from the census-based frame. Ms. Haney has significant experience in transforming textual data into coded data across a number of data domains.