Many researchers collect online survey data because it is cost-effective and less time-consuming than traditional research methods. This paper describes Twitter chats as a research tool vis-à-vis two other online research methods: providing links to electronic surveys to respondents and use of commercially available survey panels through vendors with readily available respondents. Similar to a face-to-face focus group, Twitter chats provide a synchronous environment for participants to answer a structured series of questions and to respond to both the chat facilitator and each other. This paper also reports representative responses from a Twitter chat that explored financial decisions of young adults. The chat was sponsored by a multi-state group of land-grant university researchers, in cooperation with WiseBread, a personal finance website targeted to millennials, to recruit respondents for a more extensive month-long online survey about the financial decisions of young adults. The Twitter chat responses suggest that student loans were the top concern of participants, and debt and housing rounded out the top three concerns. The internet, both websites and social media, was the most frequently cited source of financial information. The article concludes with a discussion of lessons learned from the Twitter chat experience and suggestions for professional practice.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.