The ‘mini blogging’ social media site Twitter now has over 200 million users with 200 million ‘tweets’ per dayand over 1.6 billion searches per day (see Twitter blog for more facts on usage). Users post 140-character updates (‘tweets’) of what they are doing, reading, watching etc. It is much like status updating on Facebook. Think: ‘Eating toast, doesn’t Eammon Holmes’ hair look funny today’.
Twitter has its uses when other communication mechanisms fail
But not all uses have been so trivial. During the Japanese earthquake earlier this year people on the island communicated via Twitter as mobile networks went down. And elsewhere worried relatives used social media to get in touch and emergency help was set up. The same thing happened during the more recent US earthquake. And in the case of the Arab Spring, Twitter was a powerful communications channel for the masses even in the most repressive of regimes.
Gnip – tapping into the world’s conversations
Enter Gnip, a Boulder, Colorado-based company that has bought the rights to sell data from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and many other social media sites.
Gnip deals in the very serious business of helping companies see what people are saying about them.
Airline JetBlue has taken Twitter seriously for years, using it for such diverse activities as ticket giveaways to seat planning help and it now uses Gnip through its customer experience management partner Attensity.
Can Gnip help you see into the future?
The obvious, direct uses of social media to see what people are saying about you now seem old hat. What is trending can almost be used to forecast the future: to see how people react to news, product launches, sporting and stock market events. You could imagine tracking Twitter comments as a mean of potentially forward predicting movements of betting odds on Betfair or prices on financial markets.
The world may now be having conversations online. But if it’s you Tweeting or posting on Facebook, just be aware that more people than you might think are listening to you.