Why Twitter Just Bought Social Data Provider Gnip

It seems Twitter hopes to increase revenue by giving companies access to valuable tweet data about potential customers.

Why Twitter Just Bought Social Data Provider Gnip
[Image: Flickr user walkingsf]

For brands, social media has become an invaluable means by which to listen to customers and identify industry trends. Twitter recognizes this, and has taken another step toward make Twitter data more accessible to companies by purchasing Gnip.

The data startup has access to Twitter’s “firehose,” aka every public tweet that gets sent by users. Gnip currently lets companies mine social data from Twitter and other social platforms for meaningful insights. Sure, Twitter tells users about trending topics, and the social platform’s analytics tool lets users measure things like the reach and popularity of your tweets–but what if a brand wants to dive into the depths of the Twittersphere for emerging trends and potentially influential users? That’s where Gnip comes in, allowing brands to sift through the massive amounts of information and Twitter history for more specific criteria. For example, Gnip can help a brand identify the most influential fans of its products in a specific location in real time–or during a specific time range.

It’s worth noting that Gnip also analyzes data from a number of other social media platforms, including Foursquare and Tumblr. Neither Twitter nor Gnip have publicly discussed whether or not Gnip will continue to analyze data from sites other than Twitter.

In a blog post, Twitter said the acquisition would allow for “more sophisticated data sets and better data enrichments, so that even more developers and businesses big and small around the world can drive innovation using the unique content that is shared on Twitter.”

In buying Gnip, Twitter is likely hoping to make money selling something other than advertising: namely, access to highly valuable deep data analysis for brands and businesses looking to boost their engagement. It’s also imaginable that Twitter might offer this kind of insight to ordinary users for a fee, as well.

About the author

Jessica Hullinger is a London-based journalist who covers science, health, and innovation. She currently serves as a Senior Editor at TheWeek.com.