Being a platform means people want to build on top of you. Badly. Facebook and Twitter are arguably the most attractive social platforms for developers, in large part thanks to each company’s massive user base. While many developers may want to build on Twitter, however, that doesn’t mean Twitter wants them to—at least not without their say-so.
Two weeks ago, Twitter put out rules for developers wanting to build on its platform, the idea being that developers shouldn’t build a better version of Twitter but a better use for it. That can cut two ways: the Eye of Sauron or the Good Housekeeping Seal. While the former fell upon companies like Tweetbot and Echofon that replicate the Twitter user experience, the latter graced a dozen developers that were anointed on Wednesday as the inaugural members of the Twitter Certified Products Program (TCPP). Like Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developers program, the TCPP highlights 12 companies that brands can look to for reference when vendor-hunting.
Twitter certified the companies in one or two of three verticals: engagement, analytics and data resellers. The first two are probably the most easily understood. Companies in the engagement vertical—Attensity, ExactTarget, HootSuite, Mass Relevance, Radian6, Sprinklr and SocialFlow—offer products brands can use to create and curate tweets or otherwise manage their Twitter accounts.
Those in the analytics vertical—Attensity, Crimson Hexagon, Dataminr, ExactTarget, HootSuite, Radian6, Sprinklr and Topsy—develop products that dig into those tweets and Twitter accounts to sift for insights such as consumer sentiment or trends.
Data resellers are a bit wonkier. Those companies—DataSift, Gnip and Topsy—siphon the Twitter firehose into platforms that other companies can plug into for deep data analysis, like querying older tweets for historical insight. For example The Huffington Post uses Topsy to unearth tweets and tweet statistics for its articles, said Topsy vp of product Jamie de Guerre.
Twitter came up with the three verticals based on businesses’ most frequently cited needs, but new verticals may be added or the existing ones updated as warranted, Twitter spokesperson Carolyn Penner emailed. But how did Twitter come upon its chosen 12?
For one thing, they've worked with Twitter in the past. Penner also said the 12 "address a broad range of business needs and represent the types of products and services that we're hoping to include," adding that the site expects to add more partners over time.
Appointing that representative set took some polishing, however. Twitter handed out official documentation for its partners a few months ago, which shows the heavier hand it's been taking with those who build on its platform. De Guerre said Topsy used Twitter's guidelines to make small changes in how information is presented through its tools, such as making clear when stats come from Twitter. Sprinklr vp of strategic accounts and partnerships Elizabeth Closmore echoed de Guerre, saying there were “extensive requirements we had to review” and “multiple demos” to facilitate the certification process, but said it wasn't burdensome.
Twitter has posted requirements for developers looking to join the program, and at heart, the rules mirror the ones issued two weeks ago by stressing that companies build products that augment the Twitter platform and what businesses can do with and on Twitter. They also call for proper attribution of Twitter as a data source, as de Guerre said. It's not just that Twitter wants credit as a key analytics source (though it certainly does). It also wants its importance emphasized. "If you include analytics from other networks or platforms, you must provide a Twitter-specific view," according to the requirements.
The vetting process was well worth it for those certified, and not only because it spotlights them for prospective customers. They now carry extra clout with Twitter. The certified program is a sort of developer council, with members enjoying a clearer connection to Twitter, so that the feedback conduit extends from brand clients to the certified vendor to Twitter. If a brand is fielding hundreds of thousands of posts in a week, putting a lot of pressure on Twitter’s rate limits, Sprinklr doesn’t have to put in a work ticket and wait for a response from Twitter; it has a more direct line to Twitter, said Closmore.
Being certified into the program, therefore, is “not just a seal of approval,” she said.