It’s no secret that shortly after search engine optimization took the world of online advertising by storm, the elements that would someday catapult social media up to share the same sphere of popularity took root, as web developers and web surfers alike began to organize forums and newsgroups online to promulgate shared interests. Today, this ever-expanding platform for online engagement continues to widen, and API and social media are becoming as intertwined in the business model as any of their predecessors can claim. They actually threaten to surpass them altogether eventually.
API and Social Media Go Hand-in-Hand
It wasn’t always clear that API and social media would work to enhance each other and extend their respect uses so vibrantly. The giants of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, took a reserved approach to releasing the underlying details of their application programming interfaces to the public. This was especially true for Facebook, which was exclusive to college students only, in the beginning days of its coming web dominance. Twitter came afterward, and so never really experienced a lengthy period in which its API and social media campaigns weren’t intertwined into its business model.
Facebook then did something that all social media platforms would quickly take note of and implement; it burst out from its self-imposed college student limitation into the world at large, and released enough programming details of its API to encourage numerous independents to leapfrog of its massive success and make applications that liaised with Facebook properties. This in turn drove the social media giant even further, as consumers – businesses and sole proprietor-ships alike – responded favorably to the many new ways to customize personal Facebook pages. It’s all had a starkly favorable effect on the bottom line for everyone involved, and looks poised to deliver far more mutually beneficial gains with the emergence of mobile marketing as a potent business vehicle in its own right.
The ‘Hidden’ Goal of API and Social Media
In the rush to build new APIs to facilitate customer engagement and interaction, some rise and some fall. There is, however, just a single overarching principle to keep in mind, from which all other considerations should be drawn in the conception stages of a new API: it must keep the potential customer on the page for as long as feasible. Statistically-speaking, this is the determining factor between websites that have equal amounts of inbound traffic. The longer visitors are compelled to interact with elements within the site, the more the influence of those elements is allowed to propagate. An apt example would be the massive success that the Twitter network has had in releasing the bulk of its code to developers, who have virtually run away with it, creating popular Apps all over the place and increasing the number of Twitter users. Things such as photo-streams, company games, sweepstakes, private business communities can all be App-centric to embrace greater numbers of visitors for longer terms.
Ultimately, API and social media are almost made for each other, and the extent of their mutual benefit can be seen in the furiously rising number of Apps and numbers of people latching on to social networks. The trend is driving towards more and more openness concerning the code of the application programming interfaces that support these social networks, because the large number of Apps encourages users to spend more time customizing their own hubs within the network, and discovering new applications that can streamline or enhance their online presence.