Trend spotters have seen this one coming for a while now. As of last week, Twitter formally announced its plan to sell users’ old tweets to marketers interested in gaining consumer insight. The company, teaming up with DataSift, has now agreed to open up its archives dating back to January 2010.
DataSift will offer a cloud-based service effective next month, claiming users will be able to “unlock trends from public tweets [and] access the full Twitter firehose.” However, marketers won’t have access to deleted tweets or private messages.
Why Care about Old Tweets?
Twitter is a powerhouse of capsulated consumer information. But with more than 250 million daily tweets, it’s become incredibly difficult to harness the raw data that tweets provide. Even social media monitoring tools and the dozens of Twitter related tools aren’t enough to really break down the task into manageable data.
Older tweets give marketers a relatively recent look into consumer attitudes and marketplace shifts, making them more prepared for the turns ahead as well as allowing them to better groom their approach. DataSift has chosen a benchmark of two years, citing that that was the time when Twitter really went mainstream.
Prior to the move, there was no real winnable way to access older tweets. Most Twitter related tools are all designed for incoming information – but relatively recent tweets (beyond just 30 days) are just as powerful for in-depth market analysis. To do so before would require a painstaking amount of work, including archaic moves like personally digging through key user profiles. All this would mean time spent without necessarily any worth received. The new changes eliminate this headache for those companies already doing this. It also gives other marketers a chance at grabbing data and it makes the cost affordable since users will only pay for the retrieved data.
What Twitter Has to Gain
DataSift is pretty much doing all the technical work along with their own partner on this, Gnip – an online data mining company. DataSfit will of course share the revenue with Twitter. In short, Twitter (who already has its hands full) now opens its doors to more income without doing any of the work. The move is arguably a more aggressive bid to compete with Facebook, paired with a creative chance to earn much needed income to compete creatively with the rival social network. Twitter currently gets a mere fraction of investment and sponsorship funds compared to Facebook.
However, the move could prove fatal if picked up by watchdog organizations worried about privacy rights. It definitely does bring Twitter’s credibility down a notch in the eyes of users.
How Will This Evolve the Social Media Landscape?
This is a sign that data mining is a strong new avenue in the social web. We already have the ability to data mine in Google and other search engines, and both social media platforms and marketers are seeing the value in accessing previously lost and forgotten data.
The move also changes the social media landscape, requiring social media engagement platforms to raise their game in response to the new move. Almost all social media and brand monitoring platforms currently allow user access to monitor the social web for keywords – but users will now be keen to team up with a company that offers more than just current updates.
If they aren’t already, these companies should be looking to create an app that plugs into their current system – making it easier for their clients to access the new benefits provided by Twitter, without having to channel another avenue for marketing information. But it’s not just social media platforms that will likely seek to incorporate these new needs. Many companies without the exclusive Twitter alliance will now be looking to see how they can cash in on the same idea.