Lots of people ask us to build databases of tweets, but they seem to miss the fact that along with the tweets you can also collect an amazing database of people. Data about the people who tweet is the proverbial low hanging fruit. The Twitter API gives you the complete profile of the author of each tweet it delivers. You don’t have to make an extra API call. Twitter is basically saying, “Here is a fresh set of data about this person, please take it and build something useful.” The Twitter Terms of Service has strict limits on the reselling of tweet text, but lets you do whatever you want with user profiles. These are strong signs that Twitter looks favorably on applications based on their users.
There are several ways a good Twitter consultant can help their clients understand the value of user data. My favorite technique is to make the marketing case that a tweet database is a great source of leads. Along with knowing what is being said, you know who is saying it. You also know everything else that user is saying. Excuse me for being crass, but the best way to describe this is that it is like email marketing, only you get to read the email of everyone you want to communicate with. That is a huge advantage.
Twitter lets you fly at 30,000 feet over the general landscape of discussion about your client’s product or market segment, and then zoom down and focus on a single individual. That is completely unprecedented. Even better, you can gather solid metrics about the influence of each user through values like follower count and frequency of mentions by others. Some of these values, like follower count, are readily available by looking at a user’s profile, but others require programming. That is where a Twitter consultant can add value.
My pitch is generally that while you can get influence measurements from tools like Klout, those are generic measurements of influence against all Twitter users and areas of interest. If you use the Twitter API and collect only tweets about a specific set of keywords, you can identify the most influential people for this area. I’ve written a detailed tutorial on this subject.
The best Twitter consultants make sure that they go beyond just building what the client asks for based on a limited knowledge of what is possible with Twitter data. By opening up the marketing benefits of a database of Twitter users, a whole new set of features are possible, and both the client and consultant profit.