Last week, Twitter announced the acquisition of Gnip in what will certainly amount to be a key milestone in the evolution of social media.

2008-2010 Young social media managers emerge at brands to help them navigate new social media tools.

2011-2013 Social media turns increasingly from an earned/owned media channel to a paid media channel.

2014-2016 Old skills become obsolete. Brands, who are now spending a lot of money on the now-mature social media channel, need to optimize their spend. Young social media managers are replaced by data-oriented internet marketers.

If you believe this framework — IMO you should as it's entirely what we've seen across consumer brands — you understand there are a few implications:

  1. Old skills and first-generation tools become obsolete if there is no commitment to innovation.
  2. New innovations can emerge quickly and solve major pain points in consumer brands.
  3. Access to data, at scale, becomes very important.
  4. Whereas all this UGC (user-generated content) is a massive collection of Facebook comments, Tweets, ratings/reviews, chat logs, forum discussions, words become gold for the data miner.
  5. What's being said, when, how, and by whom becomes something we can solve with technology — and something much more desirable than say reading a hundred thousand comments/day manually.

Without going into too much detail about my own company or Twitter (I was there three weeks ago and am under NDA), I think I can say that Twitter realizes just how important data and scalable APIs really are. I was very impressed with the vision that I heard from a wide range of personnel at the meetings I attended, all the way to the top.

We do for Facebook pretty much exactly what Gnip does for Twitter. Increasingly, our ability to help brands get access to Facebook feedback at scale is sparking great conversations and projects with consumer brands.

Everyone is moving in the direction of big, scalable social data for a range of scenarios.

  • Combine with CRM
  • Understand customer feedback
  • Help inform community management strategy and tactics
  • Conduct competitive intelligence
  • Better informing advertising spend and algorithmically running ads specifically to defeat or out-message a competitor
  • Using social data to target individuals most likely to transmit a marketing message, visit a retailer, try a new product/service

We live in very exciting times, as I believe the next 5 years will bring us some remarkable marketing innovations that tap into the millions upon millions of pieces of social feedback that are generated worldwide every day. I am just glad to see one of the major players both acknowledge this and act upon it in a meaningful way. Kudos to the Twitter team for moving the industry forward!