Missing out? What proportion of conversation do I miss out on using the Twitter API versus PowerTrack – 99pc, 66pc or 10pc?

You hear rumblings that we miss up to 99pc of the conversation using the Twitter search API rather than PowerTrack but we also hear it depends on the velocity of the topic.

In the post below I conclude that the proportion of the conversation you miss out on using API a rather than PowerTrack depends on the velocity of the topic, and based on the example of Mrs Thatcher’s funeral the answer is either a tenth or two-thirds.

At 8:15 on 17th April 2013 we set up a GNIP fetch and an API fetch for the following terms: Thatcher funeral
Thatcher’s
funeral cost
#thatcherfuneral

How did they compare?
By 11.28 GNIP was at 65,869 and API 24,354 – around 36.pc of the “full set”. By 12:25 it was 96,636 for the GNIP and API 31,345 – around 32.4pc . By 12:49 it was 105,022 for GNIP and 35,316 API – 33.6pc
By 13:24 it was 113,519 for GNIP and 41,842 API – 36.8pc

By 8:15 the following morning (18th April 2013) 190,240 GNIP and 109,212 API -42.5pc missing

(note – the figures quoted for the API includes 10,168 historical tweets captured between 21:20 on 16th April 2013 and 8:14 on 17th 2013).

It shows that the API is not suitable for major issues or event Tweeting – where the rate is up and beyond 10,000 tweets per hour.

However where the rates are closer to 1000 per hour – the API stands up fine. For example during the same period we pulled in feeds for the words ‘state & funeral’. – At 12:56 – 3914 GNIP and 3,498 API (minus 835 historic tweets)- 89% .

So it depends on the velocity. Some will add that you get a better quality of metadata with the PowerTrack – but if you are researching a low velocity topic over an extended period of time – you might just be fine with the API.

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