In October 2022, Elon Musk bought Twitter. The company was losing money daily and had reportedly not turned a profit since 2019. Elon Musk planned to make several changes that he thought would help get the social media company back on track. As part of the changes, he laid off more than 6,000 Twitter employees. With a significantly smaller team and lower labor costs, Musk then turned to their API (application programming interface) to find ways to increase revenue.
API: Application Programming Interface
API stands for Application Programming Interface. It is the software and connections that allow two different systems to communicate with each other. Twitter explains Twitter API, “The Twitter API is a set of programmatic endpoints that can be used to understand or build the conversation on Twitter. This API allows you to find and retrieve, engage with, or create a variety of different resources including the following: Tweets, Users, Spaces, Direct Messages, Lists, Trends, Media, and Places.” It retrieves and analyzes data that helps developers and academic researchers in various ways. Regarding Twitter, API is used to gather data for outside tools and software that have worked with Twitter’s programming for many years. Tools like tweet scheduling programs and analytics tools will see big changes in their access and capabilities if they are not able to pay the new costs.
Twitter’s API Changes
Twitter announced on February 9, that there was going to be a big change in Twitter’s API. Elon Musk announced that API is the next step in his quest to improve Twitter and increase revenue. There will now be three levels of access; Free, Basic, and Enterprise.
Free –This access includes writing only with the ability to post 1,500 tweets per month at no cost.
Basic – The basic monthly subscription costs $100 a month and allows for 3,000 tweets at the user level or 50,000 tweets at the app level. The read limit is 10,000.
Enterprise – The enterprise-level does not specify a price but promises commercial-level access. It has been reported that what is referred to as a “low-cost enterprise plan” could cost upwards of $42,000 per month.
How Will the Changes Affect Developers, Tools, and Research?
Twitter’s API change is that they are now charging for what used to be their free API. Now, developers who have access to API data to promote their projects will have to pay for that access. Software developers directly use Twitter’s data for ad campaigns to create audience targeting as well as to pull trend analytics. This is extremely valuable information, and they will need to purchase one of the three access levels to maintain their work and continue advancing. As you can imagine, when they started charging for a service that was once free, it received some backlash. Many developers, businesspeople, and academic researchers have made their opinions on the matter public. Some suggest that it was not a smart decision, and it won’t work the way they want it to. Others are worried that their hard work and programs will be lost if they can’t afford the expense. Developers will have to look at what they can afford. The high costs will force many out, leaving them unable to continue their work. However, Twitter is allowing what is called the “Developer Labs” program to let them continue their work for free. They will have access, but it will be limited which may not work for all programs and research.
The Twitter API changes will not affect regular users as of now. But many need to consider the impact this will have on their businesses. Advancements from developers, data from researchers, Twitter integration, and possibly other areas could be hit hard by this development. It will take some time to determine what tools and software users will be able to continue using. As for scheduling tools, businesses may see some problems if the tool they are using is not able to afford to provide access. You will also see changes in integration and how Twitter works with websites.
The Effect on Small Businesses
While many of the large companies were able to pay or make deals with Twitter, the smaller ones were not. Many have taken this time to reevaluate what they are looking for and turned to other tools to fulfill their needs. If your business relies on Twitter for data and trends, it may be time to investigate new ways to gather the information you need. This change could cause problems with scheduling tools, analytics tools, and other platforms that businesses may rely on day to day.
Changes in the way data is collected could impact targeting and brand strategy. Gen Z brings a whole new wave of consumers and requires a different marketing approach. Part of that is that they like to use different platforms for different things. Creating platform specific content is essential to appeal to this audience. Analytics and consumer data make it possible for businesses to share content that aligns with their audience and the platform. With Twitter’s API change, it affects how companies get their information and affects their connection with their audience. That is why it is so crucial to understand and make changes to replace Twitter API if you are no longer going to use it.
Next Steps for Businesses
Third-Party Tools: Without the hefty cost of Twitter API, you can use third-party tools that help you track analytics and schedule tweets. Some tools may experience an effect as a result of the API change, so look into the tool and its capabilities prior to making a decision.
Track Performance: Continue to track performance, even if you are no longer using the API. If you are still using the platform, you should include your Twitter analytics as part of your research. Metrics are a key part of developing a strategy. It is also important to monitor your performance on Twitter to stay on top of changes and how they are affecting your business.
Communicate: Communicate with your followers and customers so they are aware of any components that may affect them. This is also true for Twitter updates. Stay on top of changes and communicate any necessary information to your team and customers.
Time: If you are no longer able to automate tasks, it may take you longer to manage your account. This could be anything from engaging with followers to creating content.
Find a Replacement for Twitter API That Works for Your Business
Many businesses rely on Twitter to promote their brand, build relationships, and connect with customers. Now, with the high cost of their API levels, many businesses are no longer able to continue their work on Twitter. So, what should businesses do? It may be forced on them, but businesses should take this time to reflect on what they are looking for and what they need. For some, they may realize that the change will not affect them as much as they thought. For others, it will be a big change. While this could lead to a decline in businesses using Twitter, most will try to find ways to replace what Twitter API did for them. Tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social are not free, but they are far more affordable than $42,000 a month for businesses. They also offer more features and services for the price than Twitter. It all depends on the size of your business, the tools you need, and what your price range is. The best thing business owners can do right now is research and determine what is best for their company.
The change to Twitter’s API is not a small development. It is affecting businesses everywhere that utilize the platform and rely on it for analytics. Although this poses some challenges, it is not impossible for businesses to continue using Twitter. Take time to understand what your business needs and what additional tools can provide that, affordably. We know this is a big change and figuring out your next steps can be daunting. We can help guide you and develop a strategy that works for your business. Check out our social media blogs for more updates and social media stories.