Brands like Pepsi, Virgin, and the New York Public Library want to use Twitter for market research and talking to customers. But while it's pretty easy for consumers to hop on Twitter and start exploring its many uses, it's been much tougher for businesses. Twitter's new Certified Products Program should help.
In order to find the best products for brands, publishers, and its other partners, Twitter will start vetting and certifying apps in three categories:
Engagement Products, which help brands keep in touch with their customers
Analytics Products, which help businesses learn from their customers on Twitter
Data Reseller Products, which serve as platforms for innovation on top of large numbers of Tweets
The program "helps businesses find some of the best products and services to thrive on Twitter"
As a result, businesses can now browse a directory of certified apps to help them use Twitter. The program launched with 12 certified apps, including the trend-tracker Attensity and the social media analytics service Hootsuite.
The move comes soon after Twitter introduced new restrictions for the use of its Application Programming Interface or API, the mechanism that allows independent developers to easily access Twitter's data in bulk. In the past, Twitter let developers build pretty much whatever they wanted on top of the service. However, the company has gradually reigned in these apps in order to align with its long-term business model.
Twitter wants to encourage developers to build apps for marketers, businesses with large customer bases, and other enterprises. Twitter is still encouraging consumer-facing apps that use the service in new ways, like Storify and Klout, but it wants to discourage apps like Tweetbot that mimic its mobile apps and Twitter.com. The company also recently cut off access for social networks it considers to be competitors, including Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumblr.
Given Twitter's quest for control, it seems logical that the company should follow its cousin Facebook and launch an app store. But for now, the Certified Products Program is the closest thing.