Platform success strategies: Promote apps that are built with your API

This guest post, part of a series of Platform success strategies, comes from Chuck Freedman @chuckstar, Director of Platform Strategy at Mashery.

There are now enough platforms available across every industry to allow developers and partners to window shop for APIs. Everyday at startups and enterprises, every weekend at hackathons, every night in the proverbial “garage”, developers are looking for that essential API to put their app over the top. Offering valuable and easily accessible services or data through your API is the foundation of your platform. So what should platforms do that can both attract and inspire development?

Promoting apps that are built with your API works on multiple levels to spread the success and value of your platform. Getting behind integrated apps means showcasing them on your site, offering them increased support and backing them with some press and marketing muscle.

The app gallery (or showcase), the core of a ‘promoting apps’ strategy, is the section on the API site that accepts submission of applications and then displays them to other developers and potential users. It can be deployed with a wide range of plugins or solutions, including offerings from and Wordpress.

One industry-leading example is the app gallery found on the YellowAPI site, where thumbnails of selected and exceptional apps convey the activity and creativity of an active community.

“The cherry on the top of our partnership is the fact that we do press releases, push on social and get you in our App Gallery”, according to Bradley Wing, head of the YellowAPI platform.

He said that adding their app gallery “wasn’t much effort at all”. The app gallery can be added during or after site launch. In YellowAPI’s case, “we took the time to build the right gallery that would allow us to make publishing, as well as removing, partner applications easy and efficient”, Wing details.

Platforms that promote apps on their Developer Portal and following launch send an array of positive messaging to their developer and partner community. It means the platform knows it’s vested in the success of its integrated apps, willing to shine a well-deserved spotlight on those that work with its API.

For prospective developers, seeing other apps showcased does so much more. It tells them the platform’s company is paying attention to what the community does. It signals that their app, if done well enough, could be promoted too.

Another proven benefit in showcasing a collection of apps is providing a source of inspiration. Outside of demos, an app gallery on a developer site shows real demonstrations of the API in action. Developers and partners can browse through various ways the API has been used.

“The application gallery helps to inspire ideas”, says Best Buy’s Jeffrey Schaubschlager,
Director of Product Management, Emerging Digital Platforms & Open APIs. He added the app gallery “gives partners and developers different views on how the API is used, and it can then inspire them to be creative in how they want to leverage our functionality.”

The app gallery on BBYOpen, Best Buy’s API site, accepts app submissions from those who have integrated the API. Schaubschlager mentioned the importance of keeping the gallery updated to showcase the different uses and possibilities built form the API. “The trick is to make sure that you continue to keep the gallery updated so that it does not get stale. This is something that we have been trying to get better at.”

Platforms that showcase apps on their site usually continue promoting with press releases and across social channels. You’ll often see these platforms demonstrating apps at events and during presentations. The minimal effort to setup the gallery, usually with a solution like app galleries or a plugin from Wordpress, are never lost on an API community.

We talk a lot with platforms about strategies that can enhance their developer and partner appeal. Beyond the essential support tools - excellent Documentation, active forums/FAQs, efficient key access, code samples and SDKs – promoting apps is a simple and effective “cherry” platforms can put on top of their API offering.

When mentioning the positive strategy to promote apps, our Strategy partners get it. There’s a rather universal reaction. After all, what better way to convey the success and value of a platform than by showing APIs brought to life in the very apps you set out to enable in the first place!

Be sure to read the next Best Practices article: API Documentation Toolsets Could be Your Savior