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BizReport : Social Marketing : April 14, 2015

Expert: What brands need to know about Twitter's update

Twitter has announced plans to change how they interact with businesses and brands using their platform - namely their 'firehose partners'. What does this mean for businesses on the social network?

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What are 'firehose partners'?

Steve Willmott, CEO, 3Scale: The number of tweets Twitter receives and republishes is in the hundreds of millions per day ( - the current number is around 500Million - much higher during special events). Each individual user only ever sees very few of these tweets. The firehose is the unofficial term for the flow of all tweets in realtime - in other words all of twitter sent at the time the tweets themselves arrive.

Companies are interested in this since it gives them global information about things happening all over the world on a specific topic or related to their brand. However it is very expensive and complex to process at speed.

To date, only very few partners have access to the firehose: NTT Data, DataSift currently have access. Topsy (acquired by Apple used to be another), PeopleBrowser was another that no longer has access.

Kristina: What does Twitter's change really mean for their partners?

Steve: Twitter has many types of partners, but few firehose partners. Twitter has told these firehose partners (the two remaining public firehose partners DataSift and NTT Data) that access to the firehose will be terminated on the 13th of August.

Kristina: How might this impact those partners?

Steve: These partners access firehoses from many platforms, so this is a loss of one data stream for them which may make their offering somewhat less valuable. Potentially significantly so. They can still access some of the data but no longer the unfiltered stream.

Kristina: Do you envision this policy change to also impact Twitter? How?

Steve: While there are no doubt business reasons for Twitter to do this at this time, and their statement is that this move will enable them to get closer to end consumers of the data, our opinion is that it will also have a negative effect on twitter. This is what we argue in our post here. The reason is that allowing others to build distribution channels and tools around the full firehose is a source of value, and while Twitter will be able to do some of this itself it is unlikely to be as effective as a robust ecosystem of partners would be.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: 3Scale, social content, social marketing, social networks, Twitter

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