The Risks of Developing for Facebook and Twitter
Now that a lot of the Web is free, you don’t have much room to talk when it breaks.
You hate a recent Facebook change? Start a petition and pray for the best. You could quit the service, (which might actually be good for Facebook’s revenue if you don’t click on ads) but you’d lose all the value they give you for free.
Twitter’s down? Suck it up. You’re not paying anything anyway, and the company purposely buries its phone number to discourage calls from regular people.
Breakdowns annoy users and they get over them. For businesses, though, investing too much in unstable, proprietary services can mean BIG losses.
Worst Case Scenarios
When developing on top of another company’s product you have to play by their (arbitrary) rules and plan for (frequent) downtime.
Say Facebook changes its Terms of Service and your $50,000 Facebook application gets banned. You can’t transfer it to other platforms, you can’t use it on Facebook, you’re sunk. That $50,000 is gone.
It’s worse if your business model is your application. Like fellow Central Pennsylvanians CoTweet. They have enterprise-level account management software that helps big businesses manage Twitter. After Twitter crashed recently, they blocked CoTweet’s access for about 5 days.
5 days! If CoTweet had charged for their software (which is presumably where they’re headed), they would be on the hook for 5 days of Fortune 500 revenues. For a small company that can be disastrous.
How to Survive
If you’re looking to develop for up-and-coming services, weigh the costs and the risks. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Make a yoursite.com/twitter page instead of relying on twitter.com/yoursite. Same with Facebook. Now, when they go down you don’t lose the visitor.
We’re full of ideas for social media. Read some more here.