In plain English: What is an API?

APIs are key to the integrations used by the martech tools in your digital marketing stack.

If you’re not familiar, it can be intimidating. I’ve seen it embarrass marketers on calls. Let’s make sure that never happens to you 😉

An API is a way for nerds like me to write code that can talk to somebody else’s system or app.

I can ask a question and that app will give me answers. I can ask it to store new information.

Using X/Twitter as an example, I can write code to ask X how many followers an account has, or who those followers are.

I can publish a new post/tweet from an account. I can include text, images, and video in that post.

So an API lets my code do the things a user does.

In many cases, if you can take an action with your mouse/keyboard, I can do that same thing with code by using that App’s API.

So I can follow you on X by using the API. I can find out who liked this post. I can DM them.

Similar things can be done with APIs from Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. (Like this post. I scheduled it using Net-Results Marketing Automation, which leverages LinkedIn’s API!)

And it’s not just social media. Almost every app out there has an API so other apps can do things.

Importantly, each API has its own “rules”. An app must adhere to those rules or it can’t play.

Officially, API stands for “Application Programming Interface”, which sounds technical AF.

But there’s zero need for you to know that. What matters is that APIs make it possible for an app to ask questions, get answers, and “do actual stuff” in another app.

So it’s actually not scary at all 🙂

Got questions about APIs? I’d be honored if you hit me up!

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Michael Ward

I'm founder & CEO @NetResults, the 1st choice of people buying marketing automation for the 2nd time.