Navigating the Intricacies of Social Media API Integration: Top 5 Challenges and How to Overcome Them
At Ayrshare, every day we see how our clients leverage social media technology to offer immense value to diverse businesses, from creator platforms to content management systems. While using social media as an individual may be straightforward, integrating these platforms into your own services with an API can be a complex and challenging endeavor. In this article, we delve into the intricate world of Social Media APIs, focusing on the challenges you may encounter and how to address them effectively.
Why You Might Need a Social Media API?
Why do companies even need to have social media API access in the first place? Of course every company is different, but it usually comes down to two reasons:
- Content Marketing: Businesses often have compelling content (text, images, or videos) on their platforms and wish to enable users to schedule and post this content on various social media platforms.
- Data Analytics: Companies also look to collect data on behalf of their users, such as follower counts, engagement metrics, and demographic information to make informed decisions.
Additional functionality includes managing comments, generating hashtags, or offering social media templates.
Who Can Benefit from Social Media API Integration?
There are many types of companies who might benefit from a social media offering. Here are a few examples:
- Creator Marketplaces: Allowing creators to share and track posts so attribution can be done.
- Content Management Systems: Aiming to help users distribute content more efficiently.
- Generative AI Applications: Offering text, images, or video creation.
- Real Estate Platforms: Enabling agents to post property listings on social media and get detailed analytics on their social accounts.
Popular Social Media APIs
We wrote an article on the Top 10 Social Media APIs for Developers where we delved into each social network’s capabilities, integration difficulty, and helpful hints on getting started.
Here are the top three – see the article for ones such as the YouTube API, LinkedIn API, and Google Business Profile API:
Facebook API and Instagram API
The Facebook Graph API – which means the API is modeled on nodes and edges – is used by both the Facebook API and the Instagram API. These are the two most popular social media platforms amongst Ayrshare’s clients. Developers often find the lack of comprehensive documentation, few code examples, and API stability to be hindrances.
TikTok videos are one of the most popular types of posts, especially for creator platforms. The TikTok API is relatively new compared with other social APIs and they are continuously modifying their API. Recent changes required significant code rewrites and a new domain verification process that takes 4-6 weeks for approval.
Twitter API, also known as X API
The Twitter API, which we now refer to as X API, is one of the oldest of the social media API and even after all the recent Twitter hub-bub, is still relatively stable. Unfortunately, you now need to pay either $5,000 or $42,000 per month for X API access.
Social Media API Challenges
Are you ready to start integrating the social API? Before you fire up VS Code and the docs for each API, there are a few top challenges to be aware of before diving in.
1. Inconsistent Approval Processes
Every single social media network is different. Sure, Facebook and Instagram are both owned by Meta, but even then they may have wildly different terms. When you consider that of the major social networks there are roughly 10, it suddenly illuminates the aspect of having to navigate each and every one of those networks to enable your users to post to them.
You might breeze through one process simply to get stonewalled for an unknown reason at another network. Perhaps LinkedIn is favorable to you, but Youtube is absolutely not willing to budge on something that seems quite arbitrary. It lends itself to a frustrating experience to even get the proverbial car on the road.
Because of this, many organizations that can and should offer social media features ignore them entirely because of the challenges associated with getting these approvals in the first place.
For example, Facebook requires you to have an approved business, submit a video of the integration, and complete a justification for every permission (you’ll likely need a dozen). Just like Apple’s App approval process, you then should expect to be rejected several times over the course of the many weeks.
2. Maintenance & Support
Maintaining social media API access is a high stakes balancing act. It’s not simply about publishing features, it’s also about enduring countless hurdles and upkeep with a dedicated internal team. Typically this is composed of up to 5 or more employees depending on the depth and scope of API requirements for a product.
According to Indeed, the average salary of a software engineer is $116k per year. Meaning investing in the dedicated team to manage these connections is typically north of $500k and can easily breach the seven figure range!
Unfortunately this means that small start ups will have an incredibly hard time acquiring API access as well since they likely do not have resources available to dedicate to such a perpetually resource intensive process.
3. Battling Sudden Deadlines
Maintenance is critical in managing API connections. For example, if a social media network requires specific changes to allow for posting and it goes unnoticed, a platform that failed to adapt before an arbitrary deadline might even lose posting rights and have to restart a process to get them back.
This leads to the possibility of losing an entire integration if changes are not adhered to. Naturally this is incredibly frustrating for API teams focusing on social media connections as it can feel as if a rug is pulled out from under their feet.
LinkedIn and TikTok both recently overhauled their APIs with a short deadline to comply. If you didn’t make the changes and get approval in time, well, I guess you’d need to explain to your user why they can’t use your social integration anymore.
4. Poor Documentation
Navigating social media sites documentation is like walking through a maze. Oftentimes meaningful documentation is sparse or inaccurate. After all, these social media sites monetize their users. Their API to external companies is merely an afterthought. Not only is documentation wildly inconsistent but it spans across hundreds of pages. There might be thousands of topics with little to no depth to the knowledge presented in the documentation.
This means that developers have limited guidance when API documentation is not up to standard. Teams will also find unexpected struggles when their preferred coding language isn’t documented as well as they would have hoped. This is excluding troubleshooting issues entirely, which are typically deferred to community posts as the social networks have little incentive to spend on resources dedicated to helping external companies maintain API access.
5. Economic Considerations
The price of social media API access fluctuates but can be steep. Some platforms demand hefty monthly payments with charges that can range from $5,000 up to an eye popping $42,000 per month, i.e. Twitter. This necessitates careful budgeting and adds yet another layer of complexity to an already knotted process.
Bear in mind, this example only accounts for the cost to access X (formerly known as Twitter) and is not even accounting for other potential costs.
As outlined previously as well, full time teams managing these APIs will not come cheap and will likely not make economic sense unless social media is an absolutely critical business strategy.
The Ayrshare Solution
The challenges of Social Media API integration are considerable but not insurmountable.
So how does Ayrshare make it simple? We’ve made it our business to handle all of this so that our customers don’t have to.
Clients need to integrate Ayrshare’s API and create a user-friendly front-end. Once this is set up, you can enjoy seamless social media features without dealing with the associated complexities.
Navigating the labyrinthine world of Social Media APIs can be challenging. However, with careful planning, adequate resources, and perhaps a specialized service like Ayrshare, you can leverage the full potential of social media for your business.