It looks like Facebook isn’t the only social media giant with an appetite for spending, as of late. Just this Tuesday, Twitter (NASDAQ:TWTR) announced that it had acquired Gnip, a social data provider, for an undisclosed amount of money. The reason? “We want to make our data even more accessible, and the best way to do that is to work directly with our customers to get a better understanding of their needs,” said Jana Messerschmidt, VP, Global Business Development and Platform. “Together we plan to offer 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.”
What does this all mean to the average user? Let’s first understand how Gnip works with the social media platform. Gnip launched in 2008 as the first official data partner of Twitter. It filters bulk data that is constantly streaming on Twitter’s feed. Gnip finds popular opinions from the user data and develops insights on opinions that users have on products or services. This data is then sold to advertisers to target those potential customers. Gnip also works with other social media sites on data collection, such as Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, YouTube, WordPress, and Foursquare.
Twitter’s purchase of Gnip shows a growing need for such a service. With the purchase, Twitter can now cut out the middleman and directly focus on business with advertisers and other companies. Twitter can also offer more data, directly fed to Gnip’s customers. This data is accessed through Twitter’s “firehose” which streams the real-time content, as well as provide access to the full archive of public tweets.
The Twitter-Gnip relationship has helped the social media monster to deliver more than 2.3 trillion tweets in more than 40 countries. This close partnership has provided insight on various types of business intelligence. In a blog post published by Gnip’s Chris Moody, he explained, “We’ll be able to support a broader set of use cases across a diverse set of users including brands, universities, agencies, and developers big and small. Joining Twitter also provides us access to resources and infrastructure to scale to the next level and offer new products and solutions.”
This acquisition means a lot of changes are in the works over at the Twitter offices. On the downside of things, this potentially means that a lot of relationships will end with this purchase. Gnip’s partnerships with other social media hubs, many of which are in direct competition with Twitter, could be quickly severed to help keep the odds in Twitter’s favor. This also means that Twitter could possibly end its relationship with other data companies since Gnip is now an in-house resource. Twitter could unscrew their firehose and begin offering their own analytic tools, further removing the middleman. But, it’s not all cloudy water ahead. Twitter promises to continue honoring current customer contracts, keeping those potential casualties to a minimum.
Of course, this purchase shouldn’t come as a shock, combined with last Tuesday’s news that Twitter will be revamping its platform and many of its services. Over the next couple of weeks, many of its users will notice changes in Twitter’s design, which will take on a look similar to Facebook. Twitter profiles will feature larger profile pictures, a customizable header, and the ability to highlight some of your favorite tweets. Overall, tweets will be more organized popular tweets will be easily recognized: the more activity that a tweet gets, the larger it will appear in a user’s feed. Twitter will also offer tweet-filtering options, such as viewing all tweets with photos and videos.
The ability to tag friends in photos will be implemented, borrowing another page from Facebook’s playbook. Users can tag up to 10 friends in a picture and still use all 140 characters available for that tweet. For those preferring to hide any undesirable images they were tagged in, there is also an option to remove the tags. Meanwhile, the photo count per tweet will be increased to four.
These overall changes seem to indicate that Twitter is planning to take a new direction in hopes of growing their user base and professional partners. While Twitter has always been about trends and social interactions, they might be planning to increase said interactions by involving more social elements that we’ve familiarized ourselves with on services like Facebook. By connecting these social interactions with advertising clients, Twitter could push a huge profit with increased traffic and bulk data offered to potential bidders. However, with these changes, are we losing the things that made Twitter so popular and unique? Only time will tell if these changes will garner either praise or backlash.
Twitter, along with acquisitions, is also hiring top shots. Recently, it had hired Google executive Daniel Graf, who was managing the Google Maps app, to head its consumer product team.