Twitter, the social network (with 500 million users as of May 2015), has announced it is launching a new tool, “Full Archive Search API”, developed by Gnip, its data partner, covering every public tweet made over the last nine years, which can now be analysed and commoditised by advertisers and brand managers.
Twitter first opened its archive in 2014 to research organisations. Yesterday’s announcement marked a direct commercial opportunity for Gnip’s customers to see what trends or directions people make in order to target them in future when they launch a new product or ad campaign.
The numbers and capabilities are incredible, with an estimated 500 billion tweets available, and with instant access and a quick search facility on Twitter for content/context, the data analytics which drive behind this will be a lucrative honeypot of harvesting opportunity for businesses through this platform.
For any user of social media platforms, publishing posts always comes with a firm health warning. Anything you say in a post is essentially there forever. Technically, Twitter can take down tweets that contain harassing or private information, including credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. However, that doesn’t stop third parties you’re sharing posts with from having a copy of a tweet.
So what does this mean for Twitter business users? Firstly, administrator controls set by company policy and governance will ensure that only certain appointed members of staff are able to post on a company account. Secondly, posts should be considered carefully on the content to ensure that inappropriate content is not put in the public domain and finally, that posts are reviewed regularly by the administrator(s), enabling responses and follow up can ensure an engaged relationship with a valuable audience channel.
Post script: On the same day as their launch of their API, Twitter lifted the restriction on the historic 140 characters in their Direct Messaging tool, to a 10,000 character limit for ‘private conversations’. Twitter has long been behind other social network platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp etc in failing to offer a flexible messaging service as part of its toolkit to keep users on their network. Traditionally, DM has been very useful for eg. customer feedback (see below):
From a cynical point of view, one might surmise, given the data capabilities of Twitter and its new suite of technologies, that despite statements of DM being a private offline channel, it could in future seek to leverage Gnip on DM in the same way as on Twitter.com and start to analyse the content. End users and businesses using Twitter’s DM should therefore do due diligence and review the privacy policies carefully and act accordingly, always being prudent about what is posted.