An interview with Conway Chen and Zach Hofer-Shall of Twitter on Twitter Certified Partners and International Expansion.
As Chris Moody sat down with Conway Chen and Zach Hofer-Shall of Twitter this morning, the conversation began with shared optimism on increased talk about Twitter data. All panelists were quick to praise the recent conversation of Twitter CEO Dick Costello on All Things D, where the Twitter data stream was the star of the conversation.
Conway explained this emerging interest in data with an anecdote around Twitter’s early expectations when opening the data stream- expectations that were little to none. Instead, it is the innovation built using the data that is making Twitter infinitely more valuable.
Twitter Data Is Special
4 things set Twitter data apart:
1. It is real time
2. It is public
3. It is conversational, people aren’t just speaking into the ether the conversation goes both ways
4. It is distributed
Honor Thy User
It is a delicate balance to simultaneously respect users creating the data while also wanting to get data out there and ensure it is monetizable. Zach is quick to mention strict adherence and support of a Twitter core values: Defend and respect the users voice. He continues by stating that if this goes wrong, the whole system falls apart.
Twitter has mindfully created a structure that honors this, a key component of which is data resellers. Data resellers enable Twitter to maintain values and still be able to scale. These partnerships have allowed Twitter to encourage and foster innovation in ways they would not have been able to.
Sustainability and Long-term Growth
Conway- we are absolutely committed to the success of Twitter data and the ecosystem around it. Continuing to look at is the data we are pushing out correct? Is the way we are pushing out helping resellers and developers to innovate and build on it? Twitter data and the strategy around Twitter data is pivotal in how Twitter sees their growth.
Data is a core part of the business that wasn’t always seen as a core part of the business. We are so invested in the success of Twitter data long term that we are committed to seeing it scale. And a key part of that is improving efficiency.
There is an understanding now that Twitter data is important- this speaks volume to the sustainability of the system. People don’t need a sell on the access to the data, they are instead interested in how resellers can make that data useful to them.
Twitter Certified Partner Program
Zach defines the Twitter Certified Partner Program as the answer to skeptics that Twitter doesn’t like their ecosystem. The program was established to help the ecosystem grow, help them succeed and grant providers their seal of approval.
The program ultimately acts as a tool to empower innovation on the Twitter stream. Twitter does not have the capacity to create these tools and resources independently. Less than a year old, the program has been adding 5 to 10 strategic companies each quarter. Factors when selecting certified partners include innovative uses of the data (beyond analytics and engagement) and strategic international partnerships.
Certified partners benefit from instant credibility provided through membership in the program when talking to investors and customers, access to prioritized developer support and promotion from the Twitter sales team. Twitter sales team members are trained and knowledgeable of certified partner products. As the team sells promoted content, they are also able to suggest and recommend partners to fill needs Twitter cannot.
International Growth: Not Just Language Localization
Conway identifies two areas of growth that are current bright spots: Europe and Japan. In identifying new markets, Twitter is looking for existing ecosystems where then can bolster and support what’s already happening. Brazil, Japan, South Korea and India are four regions appealing to Twitter now.
Localization isn’t just localization in terms of language, there is localization of analytics and data types as well.
International tools looking to join the Twitter Certified Partner Program need to match the same high standards of other partners. Twitter works with products in new markets to bring them to their standards.
Conway calls for service providers to develop tools to empower advertisers to move to ROI driven decisions. He encourages developers to focus on tools to provide actionable insights to inform ad-spend.
The Future of Twitter Data
In a word: Media. In the last year Twitter has blossomed beyond the 140 to the media hung off those characters. Innovation in the data will include tapping into what is attached to the Tweet. Not just the Tweet itself.
Self-defining as a mobile-first company, Conway identifies explaining why geodata remains so low as one of his biggest pain points. The balance to respect user’s privacy first while acknowledging delivering a better consumer experience depends on the inclusion of geodata. Ultimately, Conway categorizes it as a product side problem: to get users to opt-in to share their data.