The social media landscape has been in a furor over yesterday’s announced changes to the Twitter API. So what do they mean for brands and marketers?
One change that will affect marketers is how you can use and display tweets. What were called display “Guidelines” will now be “Requirements.” For instance, usernames must be linked to profiles and all actions (retweet/reply/favorite) must be included - gone are the days of just pulling a non-clickable list of tweets on your site. All of the display rules about Twitter attribution and styling/formatting are mandatory. If you violate these rules, Twitter can revoke your application key - preventing you from getting any data or making any calls. Basically, your Tweets should look and behave like they do on twitter.com.
Associated with this are new limits for how many calls your app can make, and the fact that you’ll now need to register for a Twitter application key regardless of which calls you use (formerly, there were some calls that could be made without any credentials). When working on concepts around Twitter, you should consider how frequently you will need to pull from the API.
However, the change which is causing the most noise is how many users can be associated with an app - it will be limited to 100,000 (or 2x your current userbase if higher), and anything higher will require approval by Twitter. This seems to effectively kill 3rd-party clients like Echofon and Tweetbot, and is causing a rash of “they’re destroying the developer ecosystem” posts. This can also affect any app you build that may have to act on behalf of more than 100k users - the app that tells your fanbase the last time they tweeted ‘football’ might run into problems.
Any apps that aren’t currently in compliance will have 6 months to become so (March 2013).
It’s not all tough love, though!
Twitter Cards were announced in June, and look to be available to more developers now. By adding a few headers (or just using your pre-existing Facebook OpenGraph tags), tweets containing your URLs can be shown in a more robust multimedia view - with inline movies, photos, and longer text summaries. I recommend taking advantage of this program, as it gives a richer shareable item and more screen real estate within the viewers’ stream.
Rafi Jacoby is Social Technology Director at Razorfish in Chicago. You may remember him from such presentations as The Year Ahead in Social Technologies and publications as Developing Production Software Faster. He recently silently released popfly, perhaps the most trivial Ruby Gem in history.