In a move which will surely cause delight and dismay in the marketing world and among consumer privacy groups, respectively - Twitter is now allowing companies to search and analyze two years worth of Tweets instead of the previously-allowed 30 days.
This is the classic conundrum for yours truly for you see on one hand I can see the value from a marketing/advertising perspective. Imagine being able to research and mine two years worth of tweets, checking for any all references to not only a given brand but also to any competitors as well.
What was said in those Tweets?
Were they positive or negative toward my brand and/or to my competition?
Did anyone retweet something someone may have missed?
It's a market researchers dream to have access to this much data.
On the other hand as a consumer, I'm not all that comfortable with Brand X having access to two years worth of my tweets and then creating a campaign (presumably) to contact me baed upon said Tweets?
Well if you're a marketer you may want to Google the name DataSift as they are the first company to offer the service of pouring over two years worth of Tweets. You may then want to get patient... real patient as they have over 1,000 anxious, licking-their-chops companies waiting to use their service.
I can see why as this is truly a first of its kind according to Tim Barker, Datasift's marketing manager, who told the BBC that "no one's ever done this before."
He also made it quite clear that this is a huge undertaking due in large part to sheer amount of information that is being Tweeted, shared, etc., every single day.
"It's a massive technology challenge because of the amount of data that is pumped out every single day," said Barker.
And for the record, DataSift estimates they take in approximately 250 million Tweets a day, which are all analyzed and scrutinized for content, including those all-important positive and negative Tweets.
And also for the record, Twitter will be compensated by Datasift and by any and all companies wishing to offer this service.
Here's a video which explains just what DataSift does...
Big Data Is Big Business
Not long ago I wrote a piece for CMO.com called How To Rein In The Riches Of Big Data. For the article I interviewed CMO's and other key players about Big Data and this - the allowing of a massive amount of Tweets, falls directly in line with the issue of Big Data. It's definitely worth a read and no, not because I wrote it... :)
One major issue around Big Data is privacy and just how far can a company/brand go in terms of Big Data and all the information and what they can do with it.
Needless to say consumer privacy groups were none too happy with Twitter's decision to open the Twitter flood bank.
Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International...
"People have historically used Twitter to communicate with friends and networks in the belief that their tweets will quickly disappear into the ether. The fact that two years' worth of tweets can now be mined for information and the resulting 'insights' sold to businesses is a radical shift in the wrong direction.
Twitter has turned a social network that was meant to promote real-time global conversation into a vast market-research enterprise with unwilling, unpaid participants."
And the online rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation went so far as to describe the service of mining for tweets as "creepy."
Well my thoughts on all this are actually summed quite nicely by a gentleman named Ben Page, who is the chief executive of research firm Ipsos-Mori.
Mr. Page said, in speaking with the BBC, he doesn't see the big deal re: access to Twitter archives as he sees Twitter's true value in its real-time search capabilities.
"I think the archive is in some ways less interesting. It's great that it's there, and people will look at it, but I don't think it's game-changing," said Page.
I'm not sure I agree with that statement completely but I absolutely agree with that he said next.
"It will help the [businesses] who are trying to deal with consumers via social media target their activities a bit more. Whether they admit it or not, companies will use that."
You can bet your cost-per-acquisition calculator that companies will use "that" every which way they can and twice on Sundays.
But the key word in Mr. Page's comment is "admit."
Just how much will a given company admit or come-clean about if asked by a consumer?
Will they be forthright and tell them the information they used to create this campaign which targeted them came as a result of tweet they read from you a year and a half ago?
Remember the issue of Big Data and just how much a given company can use to market to a given consumer is still undetermined.
What do you think as both a consumer and someone in marketing or advertising?
Do you have two perspectives as I do?
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review, Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email, Twitter, LinkedIn or his website.