How to back up your organisation’s Twitter data

How to back up your organisation's Twitter data

I’m sure you’re watching what’s unfolding over at Twitter. If you need to get caught up, this Twitter is Going Great! timeline website is capturing all the nonsense.

It’s not alarmist to say that we could lose this platform, and that it’s all pretty huge. Twitter has been around for 16 years and it’s hard to even think about quantifying the relationships, the traffic, the conversations and the data that our sector has built up there over the years.

For your organisation, it’ll be important to try to keep some of the data you’ve gathered there – the accounts that followed you and that you followed, the content you posted. Here’s how you can back them up…

Download your organisation’s Twitter data

You can download your data from within Twitter. Log into the browser version on a computer, and go to:

Settings and Support > Your account > Download an archive of your data.

Twitter will generate a file and it should be available to download within 24 hours or so. It’ll be a large file, so make sure you have space to store it.

In this zip file, you’ll find backups of:

  • your account information
  • all your tweets
  • your Twitter likes
  • your direct messages

It doesn’t include the accounts you followed and who followed you, so you’ll need to download those separately using a different service. Here’s how…

Download a list of your followers & those you follow

The web service Phantom Buster will allow you to export your followers, and the accounts you were following, to CSV files. It’s quite similar to Zapier, if you’re familiar with that. The free 14 day trial will let you run a few different ‘Phantoms’ to create these backups.

More details on how to use Phantom Buster, from this very helpful thread from Twitterer Tim Courtney:

The two phantoms to use are Twitter Follower Collector and Twitter Following Collector.
It’s free to use if you only use one phantom at a time. So do one, then the other.

This all feels awful, by the way – Twitter has long been my favourite social media platform by a serious distance. Even with its many flaws, there’s nothing else like it for connecting with smart, interesting, thoughtful people. I’ve made friends there that I would never have happened across otherwise. I’m hoping that this situation turns around and Twitter is saved, but the realist in me is preparing for it to be broken beyond repair.

What do you think and how is your organisation preparing? Tell us in the comments…


  1. Louise Holden

    Looking at Mastodon for a client. Any point? Are corporates taking it seriously as a broadcast platform?

    1. Jean

      Hi Louise! 🙂

      At the moment, the alternative channels are just so fragmented – people are talking about Mastodon, Post, Hive, Tribe and more. Lots of people are testing Mastodon but I don’t see a mass migration of corporates there yet. I would say, it’s just a question of waiting and seeing for now. If your client is digitally forward, it would be worth them trying Mastodon and setting up a presence there to get a feel for it I think. But if they’re less comfortable with new platforms and creating new digital presences, they’re probably better off waiting and seeing how things unfold at Twitter. (This situation of course could change very quickly!)


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