Twitter Certified Partners and International Expansion

An interview with Conway Chen and Zach Hofer-Shall of Twitter on Twitter Certified Partners and International Expansion.

Zach Hofer Shall and Conway Chen of Twitter

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.

Big Boulder is the world’s first social data conference. Follow along at #BigBoulder, on the blog under Big BoulderBig Boulder on Storify and on Gnip’s Facebook page.

Big Boulder: Social Media Analytics

Zach Hofer-Shall of Forrester Research, Susan Etlinger of Altimeter Group, Nathan Gilliatt of Social Target and Shawn Rogers of Enterprise Management Associates discuss emerging trends in analyzing social data.

Social Media Analysts at Big Boulder

Chris Moody introduces the group by touching on the widely-felt skepticism regarding available tools for social media monitoring. Susan opens the discussion by talking about the need for deeper customer insight and innovation opportunities in general. Spinning the wheel dependent upon what a company’s needs are, the quality of the solutions varies. Nathan says many people confuse web analytics with social media analytics. You’re measuring traffic in both, but the data doesn’t always overlap. In this sense, there are silos within social media analysis. Falling into the trap of siloing can kill a business because you err on the side of ending up with irrelevant data. Zach admits that he doesn’t know a single company in existence that  that can monitor everything in terms of social data. There are new technologies coming out regularly but two problems are presented:

  1. Each new product has a new end goal.
  2. A single kind of technology can’t serve a company across departments.

Shawn talks about the necessity of sharing data from application platforms. If you want to connect insight to strategic KPIs for a company or build that insight into work processes outside of the sales departments, there is currently a big level of frustration. Susan says this is all a symptom of the problem with social data today: there are two different markets, publishing and measurement, that are confused by both talkers and listeners. The question isn’t where data should live within in organization, but rather where it shouldn’t. The same post could have countless impacts on a company depending on its inner analyst; the CMO, the lawyer, the customer service head, and so forth. Zach thinks the public relations world has to prioritize crisis management over any kind of data.  Susan argues for compassion for professionals in public relations, saying they are often lost in a data world. In many cases, public relations people hold the budget and are the ones that have to problem solve immediately, often while they are not privy to the relevant data.

Theoretically, what if an analyst has all of the time in the world? Observing information over time and switching tools during that process creates a big headache. Flow throughout a predetermined amount of time needs to be understood on a deep level and companies often don’t have the bandwidth to measure things so religiously. As if that wasn’t enough of a hurdle, engagement means different things to different people. For some brands, the time their customer spends on its website is more valuable than a purchase transaction. For others, the reverse is true.

Nathan points out that it’s a tall order for companies to standardize algorithms. Shawn feels the same way and tells us that even when a company manages the difficult task of agreeing on a definition of engagement, it’s up to the vendors and suppliers to empower their early adopters to engage. Zach describes two disparate worlds: social media strategists and community managers often don’t understand data and data people don’t often understand community and social media, yet they are all expected to co-exist in ROI harmony. Susan says a variety of approaches is more politically correct and that marrying a variety of methods can enrich a company across its departments.

The biggest issue we face now is that the analytical steps for reporting are too far apart. Setting up the analysis, measuring the data, communicating it intelligently, and then acting upon the insight in a meaningful way in a short amount of time is incredibly difficult. Simply put, what is determined from the data that becomes actionable and improves the company? The quality of insight is more important than quantity of the data from which it derives. There are two ways to solve problems in 2012: software (the actual tools to measure data) and people (the analysts). To bridge the gap, data tools need to become more intuitive to provide valuable insights and people need to think more critically.

Big Boulder is the world’s first social data conference. Follow along at #BigBoulder, on the blog under Big BoulderBig Boulder on Storify and on Gnip’s Facebook page.