After Divorce From Twitter, Datasift Bounces Back With Facebook

Facebook Topic Data DatasiftDatasift’s hookup with Facebook is gaining steam.

It’s a good thing for the social media data provider, which got cut off from Twitter’s firehose in April, one month after announcing its non-exclusive Facebook partnership.

On Wednesday, social analytics platform Pulsar became one of the first Datasift clients to benefit from this connection – it will receive, via Datasift, Facebook topic data.

Still, losing the direct line into Twitter created “friction” in Datasift’s ability to easily pass social data back and forth.

“In the model where we were a data licensing partner, we were a one-stop shop,” said Tim Barker, Datasift’s chief product officer. Now, Datasift’s customers have to establish a connection with Twitter’s Gnip first, and then connect that line to Datasift.

Twitter cut off access because it wants to provide such services in-house via Gnip, which it acquired in April 2014.

Datasift disagreed with the strategy, with CEO Nick Halstead writing in a blog post that Twitter “doesn’t understand the basic rules of this market: social networks make money from engagement and advertising. Revenue from data should be a secondary concern.”

Datasift’s technology cleans and organizes unstructured social media data from 20 sources, including WordPress, Tumblr, forums and review sites. It unifies that data such that clients can “do analysis at scale … in a way that provides anonymity,” Barker said.

This is important because social networks pass different types of data: Twitter’s firehose contains PII, allowing brands to assemble a list of top influencers, for example. But Facebook only passes broad demographic data: the age, gender and geo.

Additionally, Datasift’s technology stays on Facebook’s servers for privacy reasons, and the data it gets centers around audiences, not individuals. “Any data that leaves Facebook’s network has been summarized to get statistical results,” Barker said.

Facebook topic data isn’t a paid media play – it’s designed to help brands understand how to talk to consumers, and tailor messaging that addresses their interests. (By necessity, Facebook topic data distinguishes between, say, Ford autos and the actor Harrison Ford.)

The activities it most affects are product innovation, understanding the best consumers to target and making decisions on pricing.

“The nature of topic data is in upstream marketing,” Barker said, adding he hopes it will play a greater role in life-cycle marketing.

Datasift’s 1,000 clients tend to be marketing tech providers like Oracle or HootSuite, as well as agencies like WPP, but it also counts Wall Street firms looking for trading insights and government organizations among its customers.

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