It's axiomatic in consumer product circles -- movies, toothpaste, that sort of thing -- that people who Tweet are representative of people in general. Know what they're saying about your product in Twitter World and you've got a direct link to your customer.
Not so fast, apparently. From Cornell University comes this study:
Data from Online Social Networks (OSNs) are providing analysts with an unprecedented access to public opinion on elections, news, movies etc. However, caution must be taken to determine whether and how much of the opinion extracted from OSN user data is indeed reflective of the opinion of the larger online population. In this work we study this issue in the context of movie reviews on Twitter and compare the opinion of Twitter users with that of the online population of IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. We introduce new metrics to show that the Twitter users can be characteristically different from general users, both in their rating and their relative preference for Oscar-nominated and non-nominated movies. Additionally, we investigate whether such data can truly predict a movie's box-office success.
Which means, if true, something we've all suspected. The world online and the world offline are two very different places.