Drilltip: Behind the Twitter/Linkedin Breakup
On the surface, the news of Twitter pulling its integration on Linkedin seems pretty innocuous. With Facebook as an example, users generally learn to cope with changes even if they do gripe about them.
However, the change Twitter is making with Linkedin is more significant. It points to a much larger shift in Twitter’s role as a powerplayer in the online space.
To understand why this change might be important for communications professionals you need to know two key things:
- Twitter has finally reached critical mass. No longer a “niche” social network, Twitter is now used by 15% of online adults on a regular basis.
- Much of that growth has been due to third-party app developers. Third-party apps can control what content does and does not make it to the user. With third-party apps, Twitter is largely unable to assure advertisers that they can fully reach Twitter’s 500 million+ user base.
If Twitter wants to survive as a company, it has to take more control over the way information in tweets is displayed. Twitter took the first step towards this when they created Twitter “cards,” which embeds tweets as Twitter would like them to be displayed on outside networks. This potentially allows Twitter to insert promoted tweets anywhere Twitter feeds are displayed instead of just on Twitter-controlled properties, including Twitter.com and its mobile apps.
The second step is forcing developers to use Twitter cards by cracking down on integrations that doesn’t conform to Twitter’s new standards. To that end, Linkedin was a logical, high-profile place to start. The challenge will be balancing the ubiquity Twitter has gained as a distribution network with the flexibility demanded by third-party developers.
You may start to see Twitter appearing in fewer places across the online space if developers find the new format too constraining to their designs. No doubt this will be inconvenient to users who have become accustomed to Twitter feeds as a part of their favorite websites. Instead, users will be forced to decide if Twitter as a platform is important enough to exist on its own with fewer options of where tweets can be published. If not, Twitter may cede its dominance of the micro-blogging category, leaving an opening for a newer, more flexible network to enter the space.