Industry News

Is it Possible There Are Too Many Changes Being Made to Twitter?

ieplexus blog 1 1-28-16Recently Twitter has seen a whole host of changes both inside the company structure and on the website as a result of a massive drop in stock value. Investors started bailing because they were not seeing the level of growth that has been going on in other social media sites. With all of the changes being made to the platform and the people in charge of Twitter, one of the problems that many users are now experiencing is confusion due to way too many changes being made all at once.

In the last few months, there have been several major changes to Twitter as the social media site has been trying to redefine themselves. One main change was the order of the timeline with Twitter’s new Moments which shows tweets tied to specific events and news stories. Another shift was from favorited tweets to “likes” much like Facebook. Rumor has it that the newest change will alter the character limit from the 140 character limit to a much higher number.

All of these changes have come as major shocks to experienced Twitter users who are accustomed to the old way that Twitter was organized. Some users have become less fond of the site since they suddenly find it confusing and difficult to use. The changes that have been made to Twitter thus far seem to be causing Twitter to lose some of what makes it Twitter. There isn’t the same easy to use system as can be seen in other social media sites since Twitter keeps changing multiple parts of the website.

One of the big problems with this is that new users have trouble distinguishing between all of the different features. When they go on Twitter, it takes time to slowly learn how you are supposed to do almost anything. When they do something the wrong way, they receive corrections from other users that may further complicate the whole thing. Without being able to easily just use the site without looking up how to do every little thing, new users stop wanting to be users at all.

With the drop in stock prices it is clear that Twitter needs big changes and it has been getting them. The problem is that these changes are coming so fast and in such a confusing way that old users and new users are being dissuaded from being users at all. The many changes to at the executive level and within the website itself seems to be resulting in a confusing mess that is just too difficult for your average internet user to decipher. If Twitter can’t get its social network on par with others like Facebook, there is no hope for the future of this social media network.

Facebook Rolls Out New Sports Hub to Make it Simple for Users to Talk About Sports

iePlexus blog 1-21-16When it comes to social media, Twitter has always been the place that people go to if they want to watch their friends and the rest of the world react live to a sports game that is in progress. Twitter has made it easy for people to talk about sports and see tweets about the game just because of the way that it organizes tweets and displays them. No other social media outlet has found a way to challenge them. Until now. Facebook just launched Sports Stadium, a place where people will be able to keep track of game stats, current plays, friends’ reactions, and even expert commentary.

Facebook’s new Sports Stadium will be divided into four tabs so that people will be able to look at the specific information that they are most interested in. The first tab of the Hub shows the information about the game including the score, most recent play, and videos that relate to the game. The second tab shows what friends are posting about the game allowing users to engage in the conversation already in progress. The third tab shows expert commentary from different sports commentators and players. The final tab has statistics from the game.

All together the new Sports Stadium makes it so that Facebook users are able to engage in the game as they might not have previously been able to. The goal of this new Facebook feature is to allow friends to sit and watch a game together even when they are spread across the country. It allows people to connect over a sports game in a similar way that Twitter does. The feature is being launching for iPhone users this week ahead of the NFL playoff games. It will be available on computers as well before the Super Bowl.

The new feature is competitive with Twitter as it allows real time communication about sports. Users don’t have to search for a specific hashtag as they might need to in the Twitter platform since Facebook has the game information already grouped and ready for them to begin looking at it right away. The feature is certain to benefit Facebook as it will draw more advertisers and commentators to the website as more users become interested in the feature.

Facebook Pays $19 Billion for WhatsApp Acquisition

Picture 2-27-2014WhatsApp is an instant messaging app for smartphones that has been getting enormously popular in recent months, becoming the most popular messaging app for mobile devices; it works best as a messaging service that can send messages between phones internationally and allows for users to send text, images, audio, and video messages to one another. Some have stated that WhatsApp is doing for text messaging what Skype did to phone calls on landlines, in that it is totally revolutionizing the process.

Thus, it is unsurprising that a major company like Facebook took notice of WhatsApp, considering WhatsApp already had over 450 million users and was adding an additional million users every day at the time of the purchase, a number which is already increasing. With a growth rate that impeccable and a service that is extremely useful, Facebook leapt on the opportunity to purchase WhatsApp last week, by paying a whopping $19 billion to the employees of WhatsApp: $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock, and another $3 billion in stock grants that will be paid out if WhatsApp’s founders and staff remain employed by Facebook for four years.

Facebook has a tendency to always be growing, expanding, and changing with the market. The acquisition of WhatsApp is no different. Just like Facebook has continued to expand its other properties such as Instagram, they already have big plans for how to further enhance WhatsApp. Their first announcement has been that WhatsApp will be adding voice calls to its messaging service, putting it in competition with Skype and even mobile carriers.

There has been additional speculation about what Facebook will be doing with WhatsApp in the coming months. Though WhatsApp will continue to operate independently, it is likely that Facebook will do a lot of what it did for Instagram. The growth of WhatsApp and its user base is something that Facebook will likely focus on, as well as recruiting new employees from other companies and making design and coding changes to make WhatsApp better and more efficient.

Facebook Launches Paper, a News-Reading Application

Picture 2-6-2014Facebook’s most recent endeavor was launched for iOS on Monday; it’s a news reader application called Paper and it’s the first release from Facebook Creative Labs, a section of the company that is dedicated specifically to launching mobile apps that integrate Facebook in new and interesting ways. Thus far, the application is receiving positive reviews, integrating functions from Facebook and similar news reader apps like Flipboard and Feedly, while being packaged with an attractive and functional design.

One thing that’s particularly interesting about Paper’s design is that it lacks buttons. Instead, the app relies on swiping motions and phone tilts. The news reader will integrate both the News Feed of a user’s Facebook page as well as a variety of content sources such as popular blogs and news websites, which will allow Paper users to easily read or view all of the content and news that they are interested in.

Early reviews of Paper have been overwhelmingly positive, with some news sources even claiming that Paper could become a replacement for Facebook itself, due to the sleek way it integrates the News Feed and other useful information into one high quality application. Though Paper lacks some of the full features of Facebook, such as Events, it still includes most of the things that Facebook can do.

Not everyone is excited about Paper, however. In particular, a startup known as FiftyThree is upset about the name. Their own drawing application is also called Paper. However, their only trademark is for ‘Paper By FiftyThree’ rather than ‘Paper’ itself and it appears that the two companies are in a bit of a spat over the name. FiftyThree has attempted to trademark the name ‘Paper’ but this may be a legal loophole that allows Facebook to stick with the name.

Waze: The Billion-Dollar GPS Social Network

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If you haven’t heard of it already, Waze is a recent up-and-coming social GPS application that has been the talk of the town in recent months. Essentially, Waze combines the traditional interface of a GPS navigation system with social networking features that allow users to share information with one another. For instance, Waze users can alert each other about speed traps, traffic jams, and other landmarks; it also helps users find the nearest, cheapest gas and can be used to locate fellow friends who also use Waze.

The reason that Waze has recently hit the spotlight is thanks to Facebook, who announced that they were planning to purchase Waze for up to $1 billion; many sources were confirming last month that the deal was essentially done and had been in the works for nearly six months as the two companies negotiated. The main issue was whether to keep Waze in Israel, where the company is primarily located, or to relocate them to the United States.

Eventually, however, the location issue became more than Facebook could handle. Reportedly, Facebook has pulled out of negotiations after Waze’s management repeatedly refused to move from Israel to the United States. Facebook has purchased two previous companies from Israel that were then moved to the United States – Snaptu and Face.com – but both of those were deals of only $50-70 million, nowhere near the billion-dollar value of Waze.

All is not necessary lost for Waze though, even after Facebook has decided to end their negotiations. Before Facebook’s billion-dollar offer, Apple had initially offered the company $400 million, though Waze declined it, believing their company to be worth more than that. It has also been said that upon the announcement that Facebook was going after Waze, Google began trying to outbid them. In any case, it likely won’t be long before this Israeli startup is snatched up and integrated into a larger corporation.

How Ads are Evolving on Social Networks

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Those without a depth of knowledge regarding social media may wonder where revenue is generated from for these multi-billion dollar companies, considering the services are free for anyone to use and so many people are taking advantage of these networks. Though there are a number of ways these companies generate revenue, the simplest route is through advertisements that are made on the networks from companies and corporations that are trying to get their own names out there through social media.

With social media becoming as prevalent as it is, companies like Facebook and Twitter are trying to get a little bit more creative with the way that advertisements are targeted to their users. For instance, Facebook has recently incorporated a system known as ‘Facebook Exchange’ to the ads in Facebook’s News Feed, which allows Facebook to pull from other websites that the user has visited in the past. Moving those advertisements from the right side of the page to the News Feed itself was major for business prospects, due to the ability to more easily view these advertisements on Facebook’s ever-growing mobile presence.

More recently, Twitter has chosen to take a page from Facebook, as ads from Twitter will appear based on keywords used in a Twitter user’s tweets. Twitter had initially categorized its users based on tweets, so that someone who tweeted about coffee would be put into a ‘coffee lover’ group, but Twitter will now respond directly to certain words in recent tweets and adapt its advertisements to suit the user’s possible interests. The service will even be using ‘natural language processing’ which will allow them to prevent from offering ads for something that someone is tweeting negatively about.

Certain reports have stated that Facebook is planning for yet another step in regards to updating their advertising options. This summer, they may be releasing auto-playing video advertisements. The videos would be 15-second spots that would come with a mighty price tag, supposedly costing $1 million per day per demographic, a move which could ultimately net billions for Facebook. How users react to auto-playing video ads on their Facebook, however, might be another story entirely.

Twitter and Facebook, Hacked!

On FebrPicture 2-26-2013uary 1, Twitter let its users know in a blog post that the social network had been hacked and around 250,000 user accounts had had their information compromised. The hackers were reportedly able to access user names, passwords, and e-mail addresses, and those who were affected by this incident have been e-mailed by Twitter and instructed to reset their passwords to prevent any further tampering with their Twitter accounts. There had been evidence that there may had been a breach up to a week prior, but the company did not know the extent of the security snafu until the day it posted the announcement that the site had been hacked.

Considering Twitter boasts more than 200 million users, a compromise of 250,000 accounts is relatively a small percentage, but the company made sure to remind users of ways to help ensure that one’s accounts wouldn’t be compromised again in the future, such as using strong passwords, refraining from using the same password for multiple accounts, and disabling Java. The Twitter hack came only a few weeks after the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were reportedly compromised by Chinese hackers, though Twitter did not suggest that their cyberassault was perpetrated by the same people.

Shocking social network users even further was the announcement on February 15 that stated that Facebook had been the victim of a ‘sophisticated attack’, which apparently had taken place in January when some Facebook employees visited a website that installed harmful malware on their computers. Again, the perpetrators are unknown and are not suggested to necessarily be related to the Chinese hackers that compromised the news websites or the hackers who had gotten through to Twitter. Also, unlike the Twitter hack, Facebook has reported that no user information such as e-mails or passwords was released in its attack.

With this many attacks on major websites and social networks, it’s hard not to wonder how truly secure one’s information is. Many websites have home addresses, phone numbers, and credit card information logged into databases, and clearly even the largest social networks are not immune to the effects of sophisticated hacking. While there haven’t yet been any major incidents where massive amounts of information gathered from hacked websites and social networks were stolen and abused yet, it sure seems to be that things are pointing in that direction.

Considering how much trust is given to these websites and how much potentially damaging information these sites and social networks contain, the fear of being hacked in the future might be something worth worrying about. Facebook and Twitter, however, have made statements that they are working rigorously to prevent further compromises, Facebook stating that they are working with law enforcement officials and other people in the industry to help prevent future attacks.

More Facebook Users on Cell Phones than Computers

It doesn’t seem likePicture 2-11-2013 it was that long ago when social networking websites like MySpace hit the scene and began to surge in increasing popularity; in 2006, MySpace was receiving more visits than Google in the United States, and in 2008, Facebook began to take over as the king of the social networks, surpassing MySpace in the amount of unique worldwide visitors. As these social networks have risen and fallen, one commonality between the majority of these networks has been connectivity with mobile phones.

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the downfalls of MySpace’s relaunching as ‘Myspace’ was that there was no working mobile app released alongside it. Neglecting the many, many people who primarily use their cell phones to access their favorite social networking websites was a fatal mistake that will likely prevent Myspace from reaching the large audience that it’s hoping for. To prove this point further, one must simply look at Facebook trends regarding mobile users.

Currently, the Facebook mobile application is the most-used mobile app in the world, beating out other widespread mobile apps such as Google Maps, YouTube, and Gmail. It’s also the mobile app that people use for the longest; according to recent information, 23% of the time people spend using mobile apps is used with Facebook. Comparatively, second place – Instagram – only uses 3% of that time. Needless to say, mobile apps are very important when it comes to social networking.

In fact, for the first time since the company’s launch, the number of active daily visitors that check Facebook using a mobile app on their cell phones (or tablets or other mobile devices) is higher than the number of people that check their Facebook accounts using a computer connected to the Internet. This is relevant for more reasons other than being displayed as an example of how cell phones and other mobile devices are changing the way we look at the Internet and the world. To Facebook (and presumably other social networks), this is especially relevant because of the potential revenue there is to be made.

Initially, in the months after Facebook’s stock went public in May 2012, the company had claimed that it wasn’t making ‘any meaningful revenue’ from its mobile apps. However, in August, Facebook updated its mobile apps to show ads to mobile users, as well as employing other advertisement methods to encourage users to ‘like’ certain pages for companies on Facebook. Since this change, mobile ad sales have accounted for 23% of Facebook’s advertising revenue, which equals about $306 million. With mobile revenue suddenly becoming very relevant, it should be interesting to see how Facebook and other social networks continue to capitalize on mobile apps in the future.

Facebook Continues to Expand Its Business Model

As the undisputed king of social media, it would seem like Facebook has little room for expansion in the realm of online networking. But the company continues to rollout new innovations to stay ahead of competitors, and recently Facebook has even begun to branch into other industries as well. Nobody knows for sure what the ultimate goal of Mark Zuckerberg and the team at Facebook is—aside from astronomical profits, of course—but industry insiders are now talking of a burgeoning battle between Facebook, Google and Apple for supremacy in the online marketplace and beyond.

At first blush it may not seem like these companies would be in competition with one another, but as the internet, phones, TV and other technologies are combined into a homogenous mix, it’s difficult to tell where one industry ends and another begins. One of the common grounds where all three companies thrive is advertising.

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Social Media Giants Announce Plans for ‘Social Good Summit’

Much of the media attention surrounding social media sites casts the industry as nefarious plotters hell-bent on peddling your personal information for financial gain. But while marketing is certainly one facet of social media, most of the sites out there have broader expectations for their company than simply turning a profit. During the week of September 20, leaders from aroundthe globe will descend on New York to take part in United Nations Week. Andin an effort to expand the effectiveness of this event, Mashable.com, CNN and several other leaders in the online community will be coordinating their own Social Good Summit, serving as a round-table for discussion on how social media and networks can be utilized to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

In the true spirit of social media, speakers at the event will participate both in person and through video calls on Skype. Among the leading speakers are Chris Hughes, the co-found of Facebook and media tycoon Ted Turner. The event will also be open to any andall who wish to attend, as users will be able to interact online while the Summit is taking place.

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