I have written in the past about how social media is changing the relationship between companies and consumers. Brands are learning how to react to sentiment and to interact with people, rather than waiting for them to call a customer care line.
All this interaction usually takes place in real-time. Most companies are interested in what people are saying now. Are there complaints about the products? Are there positive or negative messages out there?
But Twitter just announced a new plan this week to open up their archives and allow companies to sift through the past two years of tweets, previously the maximum it was possible to analyse was the past month – and for regular users it was just the past week.
A thousand companies have already signed up to the waiting list to get access to this data, with an entry-level price of over $1,000 a month. That’s a lot of cash, but then there is an enormous amount of data. Over 250 million tweets per day get locked away in the Twitter archives meaning that this is a potential goldmine of information for many brands.
Matt mentioned privacy concerns with Google in his last post and Twitter is raising the same concerns with this plan to sell their data. Every user who thought that their tweets just vanish into the ether is quite wrong. Every last comment is being stored away and can now be sold on as part of a market research operation.
Twitter has floundered in the past as they looked for ways to make money. They sell their data to the major search engines, so tweets show up in search results and they have promoted tweets and topics, but it has always felt like a great product without a real revenue model.
Changing the focus of Twitter from communications to market research may damage the organisation if users start feeling exploited, but with hundreds of millions of tweets still being generated everyday it doesn’t look like that is going to happen just yet.
Photo by Danilo Ramos licensed under Creative Commons