In January of 2009, I sent out my very first tweet from Washington, D.C., where I had come to attend President Obama’s first inauguration.
inaugurating with a killer cold. i will rally!
— Anya Kamenetz (@anya1anya) January 19, 2009
At least, that’s the first tweet found by Topsy’s search engine. The social analytics company announced today it has indexed and made searchable the full corpus of a few hundred billion public tweets dating back to Jack Dorsey’s first throat-clearing on March 21, 2006:
The thing is, the above tweet, which I found by searching “from:username” in Topsy’s search box, wasn’t my first, because I actually set up my Twitter account before South by Southwest in March of 2008. So there may be some glitches in the framework right now.
The bigger question is what types of organizations will find the deep-dive search most relevant. Topsy’s clients include media brands like Viacom and top PR and marketing firms like Digitas. Topsy says social analytics can help the business, nonprofit, and government worlds improve the effectiveness of a political campaign or spot natural disasters, or even track customer satisfaction (hint: if your customers are buying sponsoredtweets to complain about you, that’s not a good sign).
But the usefulness of tracking tweets back to 2008 is very much dependent on the type of communication you’re looking at. In its early years, Twitter was a much smaller, more private and casual platform than the half-billion-user behemoth that exists today, making it exceedingly hard to sketch valid trend lines from then to now–even if the search is as comprehensive as they say it is.