If insurers counting on customer intelligence were disheartened to learn that six out of every 10 (58 percent) adults who use social media say their main profile is set to be private, they may appreciate news from a U.K.-based firm about to make available two years' worth of Twitter updates.

Until recently, Twitter made only the previous 30 days of tweets available for companies to search. The social media site's search function for regular users only goes back seven days.

But in a recent announcement made by DataSift, a U.K.-based provider of a scalable platform for managing large volumes of information from a variety of social data sources, carriers can search tweets back to January 2010. For insurers, this data could be used to plan marketing campaigns, target potential customers or gather evidence for claims processing.

To offer a perspective on how much data the provider is analyzing, DataSift founder Dick Halstead told Forbes that there were 85 billion Tweets in 2011 alone. “There’s never been an available public record of this kind for human behavior,” Halstead says.

DataSift currently takes in roughly 250 million tweets every 24 hours, all of which are analyzed for content—and for tone or sentiment. By combining log location data and social media influence based on existing services from Klout, a firm that provides a score based on when you recommend, share and create content, the service does keyword searches to analyze a topic and pull Tweets related to the topic, even if it is not named in the search. Private accounts and tweets that have been deleted will not be indexed by the site.

Part of the Internet’s public domain, Twitter has experienced phenomenal growth as a “listening” platform.

As a result, the demand for this service by companies looking to garner customer experience data has also grown exponentially, according to analysts. Although the number of insurers is unknown, there are close to 1,000 companies on a waiting list to access the service.

According to the BBC, the cost to businesses will depend on the company's size, with DataSift's entry-level package costing £635 ($1,000) per month for "individuals or developers." Twitter, meanwhile, will garner revenue from DataSift as part of a licensing fee, said DataSift.




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