Notice something different about the Twitter sharing button on your blog or website? On November 20th, Twitter updated the design of its social sharing buttons. The buttons gained a modern, high contrast design of white text on a blue background, but it came at a high cost. Twitter’s social sharing buttons lost their key feature, the showing of share counts. Now that Twitter has removed share counts, the familiar button in your floating social sharing bar that was once a shining beacon of the social proof of your site has become essentially meaningless. The micro-blogging platform is also now curtailing third-party access to tweet share information. Why did this change happen, and what does it mean for your business? To help you fully understand the ramifications of Twitter’s decision and the effect it will have on your social marketing strategies, we break down the specifics of this policy change and take a close look at why Twitter made this change, how this change will affect your company, and discuss what we can do going forward.
Why did Twitter stop showing Retweets and shares?
For the past five years, Twitter’s handy share buttons displayed share count by querying a JSON endpoint hosted on various domains. Now that Twitter has updated its button design and removed that functionality from its vertical Tweet buttons, the social sharing community is left searching for answers.
The micro-blogging site claims this decision was motivated by its desire to improve the user experience by moving to a more stable, multi-tenant distributed database. Twitter’s official announcement states that removing share counts and restricting access to sharing data is part of its “ongoing effort to consolidate and simplify the platform for supportability,” but social media influencers are expressing serious doubts about that being the prime motivating factor for the change.
Many social media insiders see this move as part of Twitter’s efforts to monetize the platform, and Twitter’s own actions seem to bear this out. Twitter insiders are encouraging developers and marketers to turn to Gnip, Twitter’s enterprise API platform, for information on the number of shares and retweets each post receives.
The only problem with this advice is that Gnip is a customized solution that is so high-priced that it doesn’t even post a price tag on its website. Gnip’s final price tag is rumored to be several thousand dollars a month, putting it firmly out of reach for small to mid-size businesses. Realistically, this means that reliable Twitter sharing information will only be available to the largest, best-funded companies, leaving everyone else out in the cold.
How will Twitter’s changes affect my business?
While share counts have often been decried as mere “vanity metrics,” the lack of access to Twitter’s social sharing numbers may have serious consequences for many marketers, developers, and small to mid-sized business owners. This important measurement tool helps us to gauge user engagement, provides positive, easily recognizable social proof of the viability of our products and services, and forms the basis for many app developers’ offerings. Losing it will be a hard blow for many in the social marketing community.
Social marketers may have difficulty proving the success of their online marketing strategies now that Twitter has removed easy access to its sharing numbers. While the number of Twitter shares and retweets a company receives is only one metric of marketing success, seeing the number of social shares prominently displayed at the side of a webpage has a proven positive effect on customer outreach and the success of marketing strategies.
If you are one of the many third-party app developers that provide plug-ins or widgets that rely on Twitter’s social sharing data, many or all of your product offerings may have just become obsolete.
The number of Twitter shares a blog or website receives is often viewed as a reliable indicator of the site’s popularity and market viability. This means that small to mid-sized companies that rely on Twitter shares as a form of social proof for their website or business could see a marked decrease in the number of customers they serve. This can have serious ramifications for these firms’ financial stability and long-term success.
So how can we take action to encourage Twitter to reverse these changes?
Although Twitter so far has shown no sign of bowing to customer pressure, concerned social marketers and small business owners are banding together to speak out on sites and express their opinions of Twitter’s policy changes.
There are a number of ways you can take action. You can tag @twitter and @TwitterDev in tweets using the hashtag #SaveOurShareCounts. Share this article to inform your friends and customers of the changes that Twitter is making so they recognize its effect on your social sharing strategies. While we can’t force Twitter to respond the way we want, we can make sure our voices are heard on this important social marketing issue.
Count on Blue Interactive Agency to fulfill all your social marketing needs, whether you need Twitter marketing tips or expert guidance through the changing social marketing landscape. As a leading internet marketing agency, we have the experience and skill to help your company to come out on top no matter what changes Twitter and the other social strategies throw your way.
Contact us at Blue Interactive Agency today at 954-779-2801 for information on the latest developments in social marketing strategies, along with comprehensive support to ensure your marketing strategies hit their mark!