Much to the shock and dismay of developers, designers, and content creators around the world, Twitter deprecated its share count API back in November of last year. The Twitter development team explained the choice but it left many publishers without that social proof they often rely on so heavily for increasing engagement. We saw an opportunity in OpenShare, a service we built that helps designers and developers integrate with third party platforms, and with version 1.4.0 released this week, I can officially announce that we have brought back Twitter share counts!
As a Forward Obsessed design and innovation firm, we are always looking for new, exciting, and time saving ways to integrate social platforms and other third-party APIs into the experiences we create. The majority of social networks and platforms provide ways to share and interact with content, however, they all have their own unique styles of implementation. There are many third party tools and services that attempt to make it easy for designers to integrate with social platforms, without having to write a single line of code, but this is usually at the cost of giving away their data and retargeting their own users. Furthermore, many of these tools come with predefined settings and styles, and can be tedious and time-consuming to customize, especially when putting design and user-experience at the core.
We saw the need to create an open-source tool that would allow content creators, designers, and developers to more seamlessly integrate with a wide range of social networks and platforms; and unlike other tools, we aren’t doing so at the expense of user privacy — our solution is built to do good, not evil. OpenShare is open-source, easy to use, supports an unprecedented range of platforms, and won’t bog-down site speed or negatively impact user experience. It provides straightforward, declarative, and completely customizable API wrappers for all major social networks and platforms with zero styling and maximum flexibility. And, unlike other social sharing tools, we don't retarget and profit from your users. Your data is your data — this is the OpenShare philosophy.
Check out this and other OpenShare examples on CodePen
We released OpenShare a few weeks back, with the code publicly available on GitHub and NPM and a growing repository of examples on openshare.social and codepen.io. We support a wide range of platforms, from Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, to SnapChat, Instagram, and Whatsapp, to Google Maps, GitHub, CodePen, and Dribbble, and that list is constantly growing.
Many of the platforms we support are mobile applications or highly targeted at mobile-first users, so to provide the most natural user experience we built in native mobile support. Android supports intent URLs out-of-the-box allowing application developers to match web URLs with views of their native application, however iOS does not provide this feature. We built a workaround to open the integration in the native application if supported and available, with a graceful fallback for the web.
Version 1.4.0 of OpenShare, released just this week, brings a number of new updates including two very exciting features — Twitter Share Counts and Google Analytics.
Twitter Share Counts
It came as quite the shock to many when Twitter deprecated its count API. It meant that our share counts were no longer accurate and failed to show the true popularity of our content and drive further engagement. We don’t take things lying down at Digital Surgeons so we decided to design a solution, and OpenShare Twitter counts were born. All Users have to do is sign up for an OpenShare account, create a new Twitter application, and add their access tokens to allow us to query the Twitter API on their behalf. Our counting application then runs constantly in the background, searching Twitter for URLs and counting the results on behalf of our users. This truly is a game changer.
Google Analytics and Tag Manager
One of our most exciting integrations yet, OpenShare Google Analytics/Google Tag Manager integration brings a whole new level of insight to your projects. These fully-realized integrations speed up social tracking implementations and allow you focus on how your users interface with your applications. Openshare can automatically fire one or more of the following: Google Analytics Events, Google Analytics Social Interactions, or Google Tag Manager dataLayer Messages, and what you do with that data is completely up to you.
"OpenShare's Google Analytics integration permits designers, developers, and marketers to quickly and painlessly deliver highly-trackable social sharing button across their connected experiences. Beyond tracking, the Google Tag Manager integrations open up the door to a much more robust marketing tagging infrastructure that surpasses other existing social sharing tools.” – Pete Sena - Digital Surgeons CCO / Founder
The Road Ahead
We have big plans for the future of OpenShare, we see a passionate community of open source developers contributing to the project and helping to normalize the ever complex world of API integration.
Need to hook into a complex API? There’s an OpenShare integration for that.