Facebook may play host to nearly a billion users, but Twitter controls the social ecosystem today. Twitter just announced its "Certified Products Program" and introduced a literal seal of approval for select third-party Twitter developers. Twitter explains that with the plethora of social technologies out there, it aims to simplify the ecosystem and "make it easier for businesses to find the right tools."
Twitter defined three categories of certified products: engagement tools to help businesses publish content to Twitter, analytics tools to help companies measure and learn from Twitter content, and data resellers that help distribute tweets to the masses. Twitter also announced the first 12 certified products, which we've mapped into the ecosystem:
Why is this worth blogging about? (It's not just a challenge to see how many times I can write "Twitter" in one post.) It's because Twitter is finally putting a stake in the ground and letting third-party developers know who's in charge. Over the past few years, Twitter has grown into the successful social network it is in great part because of its third-party developers. The apps we use - both for personal use on our varied devices as well as the data-driven technologies we use for business - helped make Twitter popular. But now that it's become one of the social kings, it's starting to lay down the law.
While it has been covered in many other places across the Web (start with Marco Arment, then Ben Brooks), Twitter’s API changes today should worry any social marketers who use tools and technologies that interact with Twitter.
In Twitter’s announcement, they state that they are not going to penalize “Enterprise Clients” and vendors of “Social Analytics” — every quadrant but the top right of their visualization, below. However, Twitter did not clearly delineate lines between what is and is not acceptable. To continue to grow, Twitter needs to encourage a robust and healthy ecosystem, which supports both marketers and users. In order to do that, Twitter must provide much clearer guidance about the long-term stability of its APIs and its support for businesses built on top of their data. If this requires announcements of additional fees for data usage, that will be fine as long as the rules of the road are clearly laid out.
Until Twitter does so, I expect the volume of new enterprise-ready startups centered on Twitter to reduce, and existing vendors will increase their focus on other platforms and communities as CEOs and boards of directors try to reduce their risk and exposure to future changes by Twitter.