What Twitter’s recent API changes mean for App users

Last week Twitter announced that, in the coming weeks, it will launch a set of new rules that limit the number of users that certain applications that use...

Last week Twitter announced that, in the coming weeks, it will launch a set of new rules that limit the number of users that certain applications that use the Twitter API can have.  The axe is mainly falling on “traditional apps” – i.e. Twitter-based applications which “reproduce the mainstream Twitter experience”. This is obviously startling news for many app developers, but what does it mean for businesses that are using Twitter apps, paying for them and training staff to use them?

According to Tammy Kahn Fennell (CEO, MarketMeSuite), many of the most popular Twitter apps are deemed to be ‘Enterprise/Social CRM’ tools that fall into the upper left quartile of the chart issued by Twitter to explain their thinking (see below). These apparently meet the approval of Twitter, as do apps in the bottom quartiles that focus on either social media analytics or social influence ranking.

This would seem to put the following apps in the clear:

  • Hootsuite, MarketMeSuite, Sprinklr, Sprout Social – and other social CRM / engagement tools
  • Radian6, Brandwatch, Sentiment Metrics – and other monitoring tools
  • Klout,  Peerindex – and other influence tools
  • SocialBakers, Engagor – and other analytics tools
Twitter API changes

The apps that are considered to reproduce mainstream Twitter activity – and therefore infringe on the features that Twitter wants to ‘own’,  include those that simply provide streams of content in various filtered and more user-friendly ways than Twitter’s own apps.

There are hundreds of these, but some of the best known limited apps are likely to be:

  • Echofon
  • Tweetbot
  • Storify
  • Favstar

In typical Twitter fashion, the company can pretty much decide which apps break the rules on an individual basis – so there are no guarantees. On the plus side, if you’re already a customer of these apps, chances are your service will continue as normal. The limits are on user numbers, so it’s really their problem, not yours (yet).

On the downside, with limits on their user-numbers many of these apps will find it difficult to make money or find venture funding – so I’d expect to see some closures down the line. If you’re worried, you might want to switch to an ‘unrestricted’  app. There are also alternatives to using Twitter that you might want to try – though, as Tammy Kahn Fennell stresses, Twitter itself has huge mainstream usage now and isn’t going away.


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  1. Engagor Reply

    Let’s hope Twitter won’t make the rules any stricter than this in the future. For Engagor we are already taking measures to change the look and feel of how we present tweets in our social inbox. Intermixing tweets with other social content is something we will need to check with Twitter in our case…

    1. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

      Yes – I’d put you guys in the “social analytics” bucket, but like most apps, I’m sure there are features you’ll need to adjust. It’s going to be a busy month!