What is your first tweet worth?

Hundreds of billions? Half a trillion? That is the number of tweets you will now be able to search through on Twitter as the social networking service announced it was opening up its archives from the year dot (2006). Tweets previously gone into the ether and probably best left forgotten are now available for all to see.

More and more, insight and business decision-making is influenced by multiple data-sets. We reported in February how some of the most useful and most comprehensive of these data-sets come from public sources. So as Twitter users scramble to find and delete those embarrassing first tweets, marketers and consumer researchers are presented with a new, and potentially very valuable, opportunity.

How so? The benefit of opening the tweet search archive will be comprehensive results on any given subject, rather than just the most recent tweets on it. Search the hashtag for a popular television show and you will be presented with results for the entire season, not just last night’s episode. If it is not TV you are into, consider the opportunities for other categories such as sports events, conferences, industry discussions, places, businesses and long-lived hashtag conversations says Twitter.

Of course, whilst having access to more data means you are more likely to piece together a fuller picture eventually, it also means you will need to plough through more of it to get there. No matter how thorough they are though, analysing tweets will still only give marketers part of the answer. Whilst tweets may convey sentiments as well as opinions, their 140-character limit limits the scope for context within them. To inform new service developments or campaign targeting, it will therefore still remain important for marketers to view learnings from Twitter’s newly widened data-set as complementary to other data sources and/or qualitative research findings.