Today social media data provider Gnip announced the launch of its Historical PowerTrack product for Twitter, which allows users to analyze every Tweet since the launch of the platform in 2006. Gnip becomes only the third organization, along with Twitter itself and the Library of Congress, to have a full archive of public Tweets, and this marks the first time the data has been publicly available.
The Boulder-based company launched in 2008 to aggregate social media APIs and help companies track and analyze their brand mentions, and it now analyzes over 100 billion social activities per month. Prior to today’s launch, they only offered access to 30 days of Twitter historical data. President and COO Chris Moody said in an interview that they’ve been developing Historical PowerTrack for over a year, ever since collaborating with Twitter to make their historical data available to the Library of Congress. “We were able to get access to all of the data, and then it was really a lot of technical work to bring the solution to market in a way that our customers wanted,” Moody said.
Gnip’s clients are largely social media analytics tools and business intelligence solutions that provide social data to companies (including 90 percent of the Fortune 500). The Historical PowerTrack product was motivated by what Moody said is a need to provide context to the real-time social information companies have access to now. ”As companies become more reliant [on real-time], they’re realizing that they need context,” Moody said. “That’s where a huge part of the historical component comes in because it provides context about what’s happening.”
Gnip has been beta testing the product with companies including PayPal and social media monitoring tool Brandwatch to help give them context around their social data, and to help with predictive analytics by looking at past data to build predictive models. Moody gave the example of a company that releases a new vehicle, and finds that a certain percentage of the Twitter feedback is negative, and can then compare that to launches from the past five years to see if that percentage is lower or higher than usual. Another example is a hedge fund manager who could build historical data into their algorithms. Gnip will be offering customers subscriptions based on how much data they’re consuming and over what period of time, and they’ll also work with companies on a one-off basis for specific requests.
The company was already pulling data from Twitter prior to today’s announcement, and has partnerships with WordPress, Disqus, and China’s Sina Weibo, who they partnered with earlier this year. In April 2012 they announced a partnership with Tumblr, which made its firehose of public social data available to Gnip as part of an exclusive deal. Moody said the idea is to give customers the ability to compare data from various sources. ”The whole reason we add these new sources is because we believe they have fundamentally different characteristics with different types of conversations,” he said. “We certainly see people turning to different sources for different needs, and sometimes mixing them to get the right solution.”
Other companies have tried to make Twitter’s historical data available to companies, including DataSift, which debuted its Historics product in February 2012 to provide access to Tweets dating back to January 2010. Moody said in April that he didn’t view DataSift as a direct competitor because it provides analytics, whereas Gnip provides data for use in others’ analytics products. Though DataSift only has access to Tweets from 2010, it’s a similar product, though Moody said he doesn’t think the products should be compared. ”It’s almost like it’s an arms race, who’s going to add the next level, and I think that’s not the right way of looking at it,” Moody said. ”It’s a historical research product, and we know from our customers that what they aspire to do is be able to go back and put current conversations into context, or to do effective modelling, and for that they need all the conversations.”
Moody said evolving the new product will be the focus for Gnip over the next 6-12 months, and will help them extend their mission to “be the source of record for all public social conversation.” “We believe social data has the power to change every industry,” he said. “If social data is going to meet its full potential, then companies have to have full coverage.” While this data isn’t available to the average consumer, rather companies trying to make sense of their brand’s messaging and past Twitter interactions, it still marks a step forward in making Twitter’s entire library of Tweets available to anyone who wants it.