A new study analyzing comments on social media reveals something interesting about Americans’ plans for the big Memorial Day holiday weekend: Most of us seem to be planning on opening our wallets, big time.
Whether you were aware of it or not, you’ve probably been giving IBM a pretty good idea of what you’ll be doing over Memorial Day weekend.
In its own words, IBM’s Social Sentiment Index “uses analytics and natural language processing technologies to aggregate and gauge consumer public opinions from Twitter, blogs, message boards and other social media.” The latest index indicates that more of us feel like traveling and shopping for Memorial Day 2012.
For one thing, people have been chatting up a storm about Memorial Day getaways. IBM reports a 46% increase in conversations about Memorial Day travel compared to the summer-launching holiday weekend of 2011. There has been an even larger jump in chatter about flights, with conversations increasing by 65% compared to last year.
Such data bodes well for the economy. If consumers are traveling more, they’re demonstrating increased confidence in the economy. Increased spending (via travel and in other ways) then directly helps the economy, boosting confidence further, and the ball rolls on and on.
Part of me wonders, though, whether the rise in online conversations about holiday weekend travel is just a reflection of an overall rise in conversations and comments via social media. Less questionable is the way IBM compares positive and negative comments. Here, we’re talking about a ratio, regardless of whether or not the overall number of comments is rising. And here, Americans seem quite game for spending, specifically via road trips. In conversations about gas prices, there is a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments in 2012, compared to 1:1 last year.
Likewise, Americans seem amped to go shopping this weekend. According to IBM:
The “Desire Ratio” – the proportion of positive versus negative comments about shopping – increased by a factor of five for this Memorial Day compared with last year.
Desire Ratio. Gotta love terms like that. Seems to boil down to whether your desire to go shopping outweighs your hatred of blowing money while going shopping. Apparently, desire is winning out lately.
That desire doesn’t come with the requirement to pay full price, however. To scope out holiday weekend bargains, check out the Memorial Day roundups from deal-tracking sites such as dealnews, FatWallet, and MrFreeStuff.