Don’t be afraid to ask your analytics provider questions.
5 questions to ask your social analytics provider | TweetReach Blog
Over on our TweetReach Blog we’ve written about the 5 questions you should be asking your social analytics provider, and we wanted to share some of them here too. When you choose a social analytics provider, you have the right to ask questions about the service you’re getting, even when you’re using free services. With that in mind, here’s three of the questions you should ask:
1. Where does your data come from?
Not all social data sources are made equally; what you can get from building a tool on a platform’s open API is vastly different from what you can get if you have access to that company’s full firehose of data. So what do you need? If you’re looking for a quick overview of recent data, then something built on an open API will work for you. If you want something more in-depth, you should consider a provider who works with a licensed data partner like Gnip or DataSift. These data resellers provide commercial, licensed access to the full data streams from platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and others, giving you the highest quality data possible.
Keep in mind that services built on a licensed data stream are also more reliable than something built on a free API: you don’t have to worry about hitting rate limits or missing important data. Again, if you’re just looking for enough recent information to keep track of general trends or overviews, then you don’t need to pay for extensive, real-time access to full-fidelity data– but remember the difference if your needs change.
To illustrate: if you want an idea of how many people are talking about a documentary the day after it aired and what they’re talking about, then something built on a a free API would be fine. If you made the documentary and want an extensive review of the conversation before, during and after your documentary aired and a deeper dive into the different facets of the conversation around it, you want something built on a stable, more comprehensive data source.
2. What is the firehose and do you have access to it?
A firehose is full access to all the data from a platform – that’s everything. In the case of Twitter, very few analytics providers have direct access to the full Twitter firehose, mostly because it’s unnecessary, but also because it’s quite costly. Gnip and DataSift have full firehose access, as do a very rare few others. If your analytics provider says they use the Twitter firehose, they actually probably do not. Clarify what they mean by that; the word “firehose” is misused a lot.
Instead, most serious analytics providers will have access to a full-coverage stream of data built on the firehose. This is a full-fidelity stream of tweets that matches their needs, based on a set of search queries or other filters. The result is a smaller stream of only the data they need – including all tweets that match their filters – without all the unrelated or irrelevant data.
This is a case of “you get what you pay for”; Twitter doesn’t have the infrastructure or impetus to give you access to all of their data for free, so through agreements with companies like Gnip and DataSift, a third party can gain full access to the social data they need. But this kind of data isn’t free, so be sure to choose the option that meets your needs. And if you’re using a free tool, chances are good that tool is not built on the firehose in any way.
3. What data access does Union Metrics have?
We are a certified Plugged In To Gnip partner, which means we have commercially licensed, full-coverage access to Twitter and Tumblr data. That’s reliable, reputable data you can count on, both now and in the future. Here’s the breakdown.
Our TweetReach Pro Trackers have Gnip PowerTrack access – that’s full coverage of all tweets in real time for any search terms you enter. That means no missed tweets and no sampling.
Our TweetReach snapshot reports use the Twitter Search API, so they’re great for quick estimates of recent activity, but are limited to about 1500 tweets from the past week.
Our TweetReach premium historical analytics use Gnip’s Historical PowerTrack. That gives us access to any tweet in Twitter’s history, dating back to the very first tweet posted in March 2006.
Finally, with Union Metrics for Tumblr, we consume the full Tumblr firehose. That means we process 100% of all public posts, notes and other Tumblr activities.
Want more? Check out the full blog post on the TweetReach blog. There might even be a bonus (but it’s not about feeling personally victimized by Regina George, sorry).