Top 10 Social APIs: Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus

The social media market shows no sign of slowing down, with the top networks solidifying their leads. But we have also seen some of the smaller social media networks grow and new ones emerge. Another interesting trend this year has been the resurgence of enterprise social media networks such as Yammer and Slack, and we will most likely see these grow as traditional office spaces open up more to new platforms of communications.

In the meantime, the top social media networks--Facebook and--Twitter, have been increasing efforts to improve their social media advertising platforms, as well as engaging their development community with various mobile app frameworks. (We covered these topics extensively in  Mobile APIs that Rocked in 2014: Facebook Parse and Login/Graph and Mobile APIs that Rocked in 2014: Twitter Crashlytics, Digits and MoPub.)

No organization these days can afford to ignore social, but it's important to tap into the right one for your needs. Following is a list of the 10 social networks that are every organization has to consider--one, or more, will help your company increase engagement, productivity and sales.

When developing this list, we assessed the networks on:

  • Analytics: We tracked the popularity of APIs based on the number of followers and interest generated, through our internal analytics.
  • Potential: We assessed the perceived business potential value that an API possesses.
  • Documentation: This criteria includes the strength of the API documentation, including its clarity and completeness.
  • Ease-of-use: Here we evaluted how straightforward the API is to implement, based on Sample Code/examples, as well as the diversity of languages used in demonstrations.
  • Functionality: This criteria focuses on the functional use of the API.

We also provide you with insight through Google Trends on the search-engine popularity of each API.


Link: /api/facebook
Provider: Facebook
API Documentation URL:

Not surprisingly, Facebook is the most popular social media API. The company has shown its intent to stay on top, not just with users but in further engaging its development community. Facebook has also improved its Platform with social media advertisers, providing for a more rewarding ecosystem, along with its acquisition of Parse API. The Facebook Anonymous initiative encourages stronger privacy control for users.

As expected, Facebook has the most extensive API Framework of all social networks, and the company has done a reasonable job at keeping its house tidy. Providing SDK kits for Android and iOS, as well as for JavaScript, Facebook's documentation and community are outstanding.

Link: Google Trends


Link: /api/twitter
Provider: Twitter
API Documentation URL:

Twitter has made great strides in its development community initiatives and had its biggest year yet in that regard. This is due in no small part to its acquisition of Fabric and its work with providing an easy-to-authenticate API via Twitter Sign In.

As far as mobile advertising, the company is looking to catch up with Facebook with its MoPub acquisition. We don’t expect Twitter to overtake Facebook anytime soon in terms of popularity, but we expect Twitter to follow Facebook into a completely different league from the rest of the list, in terms of usability and popularity.

Link: Google Trends


Link: /api/instagram
Provider: Instagram
API Documentation URL:

Instagram is a photo sharing app and service. Users take photos and can share them with Instagram contacts, as well as friends on other social networks, like Twitter and Facebook. Indeed, Facebook owns Instagram, whose user base has grown dramatically during the past year. Instagram doesn't provide an iOS or Android SDK; it does provide a Restful API and console, which is quite handy. The documentation quality is excellent, clear and easy to use--on par with the quality we see at Facebook.

Link: Google Trends


Link: /api/linkedin
Provider: LinkedIn
API Documentation URL:

LinkedIn is recognized as the largest enterprise social network, and, unlike Facebook, its core competency is in connecting professionals, in a professional environment. LinkedIn provides two APIs--Javascript API and REST--using the standard OAuth 2 for authorization.

LinkedIn has recently moved its community forum to StackOverflow. Documentation is satisfactory--clear, with good functionality--but we were disappointed to not find any formal mobile SDK kits provided.

LinkedIn will likely face major competition as Facebook moves into the enterprise world with Facebook at Work. Whether Facebook's business play will be a minor jolt or pose a serious threat remains to be seen, but this will certainly be an interesting space to watch.

Link: Google Trends


Link: /api/pinterest
Provider: Pinterest
API Documentation URL:

Dubbed the virtual pinboard, Pinterest invites users to select and "pin" photos, articles and other content. The service acts as a bulletin board for users, whose pins can be liked and shared. Pinterest has seen big growth in its user base, which will no doubt spur greater developer engagement.

Pinterest provide SDKs for both iOS and Android, as well as a Restful API that exposes access to information on specific pins and boards through the Domain APIs. The vendor used to provide greater API functionality, such as being able to create new boards and add pins and categories. Developers were also able acquire a list of a site’s most popular pins, as well as analytics on how many pins were clicked. However, these capabilities are now restricted to one’s own domain. 

Link: Google Trends

Be sure to read the next Social article: Facebook Announces New Messenger, Opens Platform to Devs