Twitter has revealed plans to increase activity around selling tweet data in a bid to help firms understand people in a way that has never before been possible. In a nod to privacy concerns, Twitter has confirmed that only public data will be accessed and that direct message content will not be used or sold.


Many data-mining companies and marketing firms use software to sift through Twitter’s torrent of tweets to glean insights and sell this intelligence. The evolution Twitter envisions is to provide direct access to prominent tech companies, such as IBM or Oracle, which can more effectively process such enormous datasets. Those companies will then repackage the data into a more accessible format, selling it on to businesses to better inform their marketing strategies. This wealth of information will directly impact the way advertising can be targeted, making it more precise and relevant than ever, benefitting both businesses and consumers alike. In addition, there are benefits to social research within the public sector.

Twitter’s revenue from selling data last year was a mere $70m out of $1.3bn total revenue; however, recent developments and the acquisition of Gnip, a leading provider of social data, certainly signal that this figure will increase significantly. Amid security and ethical concerns, it has also been highlighted that tweets can currently be publicly accessed, unless deleted, and firms already collect this data. Twitter plans to make it easier to access the exact datasets desired and expand the potential of how this data can be used.

Social benefit

In one example, Twitter’s data strategy chief, Chris Moody, suggests that using geolocation and sentiment-monitoring programs in tandem could read the mood of a crowd at a football match. Scanning the mood would enable police to deploy staff to where they are needed most. Twitter is keen to stress this technique would only gauge a crowd’s reaction, as opposed to singling out individuals to police.

Thanks to a data grants programme, certain approved academics can access Twitter data free of charge for specific projects of benefit to the public sector. As more data is made readily accessible, more research opportunities will present themselves.

For example, Harvard University is researching ways to trace the origin of food poisoning via Twitter, and the University of Wollongong is using the social data to track floods in Indonesia and provide advice on safe routes out of affected areas.


Consumer benefit

The good news for social media users is that businesses will likely use this information to increase their surprise and delight activities. For example, if a grandparent were to fly to meet a newborn grandchild, the airline may have this information and leave an appropriate gift on that customer’s seat.

Using a wealth of data, businesses will be able to monitor the sentiments of users to better understand their experiences when interacting with a brand. This will enable brands to improve their customer service, which is often a key frustration in the social media realm.


Business benefit

Undoubtedly, the streamlining of data enables third parties to access what they need in a quicker and more digestible form. From product development to competitor analysis, this opens up an endless array of opportunities for brands.

Interestingly, Twitter is not only pushing data out, but also pulling it in. On Monday this week, Twitter also announced a partnership with Foursquare that will allow users to add precise locations to tweets. This will enable deeper geotargeting opportunities for mobile advertising, making it easier for businesses to reach nearby consumers with relevant messaging.

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