Twitter has made another move to govern its ecosystem, announcing "certified products" badges for developers who play by its rules.
Today's announcement comes two weeks after Twitter formally announced impending and long-anticipated changes to its API, where new client apps needing more than 100,000 users will need the company's express permission to proceed. A dozen companies in the three categories of analytics, engagement and data resale were selected for the launch of the certified-products program. They include the social-analytics firm Crimson Hexagon; the social-enterprise tools Sprinklr, Radian6, HootSuite and SocialFlow; and the social-integration platform Mass Relevance, which aggregates and filters tweets to be displayed on TV or on a Jumbotron.
Conspicuously missing from the list are Twitter clients like Echofon and Tweetbot. In a blog post announcing the API changes, Twitter's director of consumer product Michael Sippey noted that Twitter had informed developers 18 months ago that they shouldn't "build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience" in the vein of those two.
Twitter's ad business is designed around its own platform, so the reason for wanting to weed out client apps is obvious, but the company appears to have forged a mutually beneficial arrangement with HootSuite, which has been focused on beefing up its enterprise offering for the last couple of years (and did get a badge). HootSuite helped Twitter launch promoted tweets in 2010, and the two companies last week announced a promotion where 30,000 HootSuite customers were to receive $100 in vouchers for Twitter ads.
How Twitter selected the dozen companies for the launch is unclear, but SocialFlow's CEO Frank Speiser said that the application process took about three months after he received an invitation, and some tweaks to the platform were necessary. In its guidelines for future applicants to the program, Twitter highlights consistency with its own metrics in reporting and providing attribution to Twitter when building experiences based on tweets as requirements.
The value to Mr. Speiser of an engagement badge is clear. SocialFlow is also in the process of applying for an Ads API badge on Facebook, and he called the application process for both platforms "high bars."
"If you're a big brand or a retailer or a publisher and you want to figure out how you can best reach your audience, Twitter's saying we're a preferred tool to do that ," he said.
Unlike verified user accounts, which have recently only been available to paying advertisers and to individuals or businesses who can prove they have been willfully impersonated, Twitter appears to be credentialing vendors on the basis of whether they can help make the Twitter experience and analytics consistent for marketers.
Also absent from the list are social-TV startups like Bluefin Labs and Trendrr, which rely heavily on Twitter data to gauge consumer behavior. Spokespeople from those companies declined to comment on whether they had applied. Twitter does have an application page open.