Are Old Tweets Trash or Treasure?

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Hey Twitter marketing gurus — here’s a question for you: What would you pay to read and analyze old tweets sent by Twitter users over the last two years? Or the better question might be, why would anyone pay for old tweets? Marketing analysts are apparently willing to drop serious dollars on old tweets and Twitter is happily selling them to the highest bidder.

According to The Mail Online, the social data platform startup DataSift is the first company to get access into old tweets dating as far back to January 2010. Tweets are marketing gold as they offer insight into customers and their relationships with brands. And other marketing companies also are dying to get their hands on this demographic jackpot. Mashable is reporting that some 1,000 companies are on the waiting list to receive access to old tweets. DataSift is taking on the considerable task of analyzing billions of tweets and can potentially unlock all kinds of information about Twitter users. Current searches on Twitter.com only go back 7 days. DataSift can now go back two years and go beyond the basic keyword searches because it can analyze a topic and even hunt down tweets related to that topic.

Talk about thorough. Yet this new practice is not without questions and controversies. Already many have shamed Twitter for selling user-created content for their own financial gain. More have wondered about the privacy issues that could arise from selling user data, while others see the blatant sale of tweets as a death knell to the site’s independent spirit. There is no question that access to social media like sent tweets could be a treasure trove of user information. Big-time marketing firms and research companies are drooling at the chance to find out more about the 85 billion tweets that were sent last year alone. But the big question remains unanswered: Will this kind of research really help smaller businesses learn more effective methods of Twitter management and Twitter marketing? Only time will tell. In the meantime, if you’re dying for the information and have the big bucks to spend, get in line.

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