Earlier this week, we saw that LinkedIn announced a partnership with Twitter. The basic idea is that LinkedIn status updates (yes, they have them too), can now be pushed to Twitter, and Twitter updates will be pulled into LinkedIn using the #in hashtag. This does not sound like much and Marshall Kirkpatrick says as much in his ReadWriteWeb post:
I don’t mean to be too grouchy, but this looks like just one more sweetheart Silicon Valley deal that has limited imagination and represents a lost opportunity for the kind of innovation everyone expects these kinds of companies to drive.
Marshall does have a point. Why make a big deal out of something like this? First, LinkedIn does not really want to be a purely stodgy old business network. It really wants to be Facebook, but for your business connections. They know they have opportunities to grow that they might be missing. Otherwise, why add status updates to LinkedIn at all? By making this “partnership” they add some of the Twitter buzz to LinkedIn.
In reality, this is more about not missing the boat. Twitter has become the de facto standard for microblogging. I am not saying this due to their level of traffic. If that were true, we would be saying this about Facebook. The difference is that you need to write an application on Facebook that meets specific requirements, and users need to install and approve the application before it can post updates for the user. That really limits what data gets into Facebook from third party applications.
Twitter has a read/write API that has been used for ages now. There are third party clients that people depend on and various applications like Twitterfeed and Tweetmeme use it as well. A read/write API is not news, but the number of people that use it is definitely news. More importantly, let’s look at who is using the API:
- Facebook (through applications)
- Google Reader
And, there are tons of smaller applications that write to Twitter as well. There are some interesting points to note as well. Three of the world’s most popular social networks push status updates to Twitter. Most of the mobile-location applications post updates to Twitter. Google Reader now allows you to post shared stories to Twitter. Finally, Amazon made it simpler to post affiliate links to Twitter.
Given that all of these applications work with Twitter, it is safe to assume that Twitter has become the infrastructure that the founders have always desired. So, if you are developing an application that works with social media in some way, there are two questions you need to ask yourself. First, how are you integrating with Facebook? Second, how are you integrating with Twitter?