What Twitter's API Changes Mean For B2B Marketers And Vendors Of Social Marketing Tools

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.

As a B2B marketer, this is a large silver lining: Our research has shown that online communities, support forums, discussion groups, and LinkedIn are all significantly more influential to B2B buyers than Twitter.  Any shift in focus toward both listening and engaging on those platforms by social vendors will enhance their ability to help you be successful with your social marketing. 

If you’re either a social vendor or a B2B social marketer grappling with the impact of these changes, please leave a comment below, and I’d also love to set up a time to talk with you on the phone.


Twitter API changes

Not being a dev myself, I'm not completely clear about the full ramifications. But I have to say I do see a silver lining here. I'm hoping these changes help to quash the irresponsible automation and aggregation apps that have only served to undermine what makes Twitter so great. I'm crossing my fingers that Twitter backs up their promised support of great platforms out there, whether they are competitors of its properties such as Tweetdeck or not. If Hootsuite et al are negatively affected, I would hope to see some major backlash. #TwitterPlzDontFail

Great feedback

I agree that if Twitter tries to close down services like Hootsuite, it will show that they really haven't thought through the implications of the API changes correctly. I'm interested in what you mean by the "irresponsible automation and aggregation apps" -- which are you referring to specifically? Thanks.

Irresponsible automation and aggregation

Hi Zachary, I'll give expressing my frustrations with these apps and my case against them a shot...

When I say "irresponsible," I realize that the responsibility lies with the user with regards to how a service is leveraged, but auto-aggregators like Twitterfeed and Paper.li encourage antisocial behavior and discourage meaningful conversation. Real skill and creativity may have gone into the development of these services, but they are antithetical to the true Twitter community.

1.) Twitterfeed et al disallows engagement. These RSS feed services push out robotic tweets with headlines that cannot be optimized for 140 characters. What’s worse, they often end in ellipses rendering the headline unreadable, sometimes even cutting off the link (?!). Although Twitterfeed allows the inclusion of a hashtag at the beginning of the RSS feed being pushed to Twitter, it's the exact same hashtag for every post. No thought can be given to what's most appropriate per story. Mentions/handles aren't included in these automated RSS feeds, so pinging Tweeps relevant to the story is an impossibility.

2.) Twitterfeed doesn’t give credit where credit is due – to original authors. When Twitterfeed users plug in a handful of RSS feeds from influential blogs, unbeknownst to the blogger, they are spewing out others content, not curating that content. I'm guessing that Twitterfeed users who do this do so because they lack their own original content for spreading to social channels. There’s nothing wrong with curation, but giving props to the content creator should be done whenever possible.

3.) Twitterfeed and Paper.li robotically push content that the user is unlikely to ever read. This is potentially harmful to brands that use these services. The brand could be aggregating, essentially endorsing, stories that are completely out of line with the company’s policies or mission statement. The brand could be Tweeting a story that expresses negative sentiment about the brand itself and it wouldn’t even know.

I would be uber thrilled to see services like Twitterfeed, and even Paper.li die after Twitter’s API changes. However, my gut (and reading Ben Brooks) tells me that Twitter’s API crackdown won’t steer the network towards more meaningful, organic conversations, but away from them :/