Social Media Confirms Memorial Day Travel Plans

IBM conducted a social media analysis that shows that more people plan on traveling this year as opposed to this time last year. The question is, is social media a viable indicator of national opinion?

This year, gas is over $1/Gallon higher than Memorial Day 2010, however, that’s not stopping most Americans from traveling this holiday weekend! The IBM Research and IBM Global Business Services have tallied the votes and have seen more people planning to travel this weekend, over the same time last year. However, which votes did they tally?

Instead of conducting a survey of a limited number of individuals, IBM analyzed social media to conduct their research on trending Memorial Day related topics. After their analytics software scanned hundreds of thousands of posts, mainly on Facebook and Twitter, they found that the percent of people posting about cancelling their trip has dropped from 2.8 in 2010 to 1.6 percent this year. These posts were recorded in the sixth month period from Nov. 20 – May 20 of 2010 and 2011.

Here are some of IBM’s findings in a trend cloud from 2010:

Social Media Memorial Day Trends 2010

Compare to this year’s Memorial Day trending topics:

Social Media Memorial Day Trends 2011

Last year, fuel costs were staying around the mid to upper $2/Gallon range, and this year, we have seen an increase of about another dollar/gallon. It is surprising that more tweeting Americans are focused on the holiday itself as opposed to the rising gas prices, last year.

Kerrie Holley is an IBM Fellow and the Chief Technology Officer of IBM Global Business services. Holley explains, “As a marketplace of ideas and opinions, the Web can appear raucous and chaotic at times – but there is insight contained in all that data. A better understanding of what people are saying online can help retailers, hoteliers, transportation officials and others with the extremely complicated process of forecasting demand.”

We love to see social media implemented in such a way that can truly give a remarkable insight into popular opinions. What do you guys think about IMB’s results? Join the conversation on our Facebook page!

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