About 30% of the global population uses social media. We use platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to write about things we like and ideas we support. We comment about places we visit, services we use and products we buy. We post content we find interesting, enlightening, funny or moving. And by doing so we help create a shareable ‘pool’ of information.

What we tweet about, what we like or dislike on Facebook, the emotions we express by using different emojis are all indicators of what we think about a whole range of topics.

This data, together with data collected from our everyday use of the internet, can help analysts to predict trends. And not just social ones. As the attached article says, from a consumer-related businessman to a political election strategist, social media is a place where you should stay not just to make yourself heard but also to observe and analyse user sentiment.

We often choose what film or show to watch based on social media reviews. Likewise, consumers buy products or choose suppliers based on what other people are saying about these products and these suppliers.

So, should businesses have a closer look at social media to better understand - or even anticipate - consumer trends, to work out customer expectations and sources of irritation or disappointment? Should they leverage social media to build a detailed enough picture of our habits and preferences so that they can accurately predict future behaviour?

It’s certainly an interesting concept and one worth exploring.