Gnip adds search API to its Twitter data service

Social media monitoring startup Gnip — one of a select few companies with full access to the Twitter firehose — has added to its service an API that enables deep searches across 30 days worth of tweets.

The search API really targets Gnip’s enterprise software vendor customers, who can use it to build Google-like experiences into their marketing, CRM and other applications,¬†Gnip CEO Chris Moody said in an interview. And it’s much more powerful than what’s available via Twitter itself. Because Gnip doesn’t rate limit applications, its index includes the entire collection of tweets during a given timeframe and it allows for “incredibly complicated search rules.”

“We’re serving commercial uses cases,” Moody added, “… and the search interface for Twitter was designed for consumer use cases.” (For what it’s worth, consumers seeking a better Twitter search might look to Topsy.)

Chris Moody. Source: Gnip

Chris Moody. Source: Gnip

He described a situation where an airline sees a negative tweet come in, but it references a flight number seemingly unrelated to the carrier. A little searching might uncover that it was referencing a partner’s number for the same flight, and from there the airline could dig even further to find out what went wrong and how it needs to react. Or perhaps a supermarket chain could set up a geofence to figure out where a rash of positive or negative tweets is coming from and why they’re coming.

Moody described search as “the third milestone in the evolution of delivering social data” and something that has been on Gnip’s agenda since its inception. Real-time streaming of Twitter data was the first milestone, and access to the entire historical corpus of tweets was the second. Gnip has been building its Twitter search feature for more than a year, he said, and eventually will probably expand the capability to all the social networks the company monitors.

Whereas the streaming service requires knowing what you want to monitor and the historical service is often used for research or to put real-time information in context, search could largely be about quickly gathering information on unexpected occurrences. It’s about faster delivery on smaller data, Moody said.

In many ways, it’s companies’ obsession with social media as a means of interacting with consumers and monitoring their opinions that has turned Twitter into such a valuable entity as it approaches its initial public offering. That’s why companies like Gnip, as well as competitors like DataSift and similar services like Topsy, provide such valuable products. Until Twitter decides it wants to get into the service of selling analytics or data direct to corporations, someone has to man the firehose and make all that data usable.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user TFoxFoto.