This Week In Social: Twitter’s New Look, (RI)Ping, Winklevosses/Narendra Launch New Site

By Rob McNair

Twitter gets an image makeover

The micro-blogging site has kept the ball rolling with regard to new developments in the last few months, and this week they’ve revamped the classic Twitter user profile look by adding a ‘header image’ – something that many have referred to as similar to Facebook’s Timeline cover photo. It comes in the wake of its iPad app overhaul alongside iOS and Android updates. They’ve taken away the complex sliding sheets and replaced the interface with something more akin to the mobile app, offering a more cohesive appearance. Looking slightly different in landscape as it does in portrait the header now centralises each profile, and as expected, many have been experimenting with them in a similar manner to cover photos on Facebook. Unlike Facebook however, Twitter’s new header images don’t come with a set of warnings about what not to feature. The header feature of course extends to the web-based Twitter pages, and the section containing the user’s links, bio and location now appears below the profile picture in unchangeable white text, meaning users are encouraged to take care in picking the colour of their header image.

We’ve taken a look at some of the most innovative Twitter headers thus far – have a glance at them on our special Pinboard.

Ping  – No Longer a Thing

Some social networks receive a great deal of buzz in the wake of their beginnings, or burn bright for a period of time… then peter off into near-obscurity. Friendster missed out on a $30 million dollar deal with Google; the ill-fated Bebo, once a site that overtook MySpace in the UK-based usage stakes during its golden era, suffered depleting numbers of users following AOL’s purchase of it – meanwhile MySpace itself underwent losses of $156 million and traffic deficits of 44% during its decline, to the point that when Newscorp put it up for sale, no bids above the reserve price of $100 million were submitted. While MySpace, Friendster and Bebo still chug along, other social media platforms have not been so lucky, and Ping is one of them. It joins the likes of Yahoo Buzz, and Google Buzz and Google Wave (failed pre-Google+ social services) in shutting its virtual doors altogether, and will cease to exist from 30th September. Ping was iTunes’s social network powered by the enthusiasm for music users displayed. It is thought that Apple’s inability to secure an agreement with Facebook was a factor in its failure, as well as aggressive encouragement of music purchases.

Waitrose Hashtag Campaign Goes Sour… Or Does It?

Like McDonalds’ #McDStories, The Daily Telegraph’s #budget Twitterfall, Bing’s retweet #SupportJapan campaign and Durex’s #DurexJoke before it, Waitrose is the latest company to experience a social media PR hashtag campaign hijack. Encouraging followers to use the #WaitroseReasons tag to explain why they choose to shop at Waitrose, they quickly received a barrage of jokey Tweets satirising supermarket snobbery. However, while many #McDStories Tweets veered towards nauseating references to lack of hygiene, synthetic materials or alien objects in food and animal rights which were thought of as damaging to the company’s image, very little about the #WaitroseReasons postings could be thought of as anything but humorous. Sarcastic comments about avoiding poor people lost implied seriousness when teamed with surreal Tweets about Range Rovers, foie gras, children called ‘Orlando’ picking up ‘papayas’ and ‘classier shoplifting’ (preferring to be caught stealing Moët rather than Skol). Waitrose’s response was an exercise in dignity and the ability to laugh at oneself, and appears to have encouraged more Tweeters to creatively take up the hashtag hijack.

Knocked Down Winklevoss Twins Get Back Up Again

It was only a matter of time before Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, rowers and entrepreneurs famous for ‘losing’ Facebook to Mark Zuckerberg when they sued him for allegedly stealing their Harvard Connect/ConnectU idea (as dramatised in 2010’s The Social Network), came back fighting with a new social networking idea – and this time, it’s for professional investors to connect and disclose research and trading initiatives. The site in question, SumZero, offers a weekly newsletter which requests permission from users before placing their material in it, as well as an air of exclusivity whereby investors may only become members if they occupy the ‘buy side’, thus enabling the site to revolve around high-quality ideas. Those from the ‘sell side’ – Wall Street bankers for example – would be denied membership. Users can also ‘follow’ one another in a similar manner to many existing social platforms, and set up alerts for stock news and the like. Another condition of membership is that idea submissions must be regular, as access will be lost if members don’t post for six months, but would be reinstated if they then submitted something new. Together again with Divya Narendra, who helped them formulate their original Harvard-based connective social network, and approximately $65 million thanks to their legal settlement with Zuckerberg, Tyler Winklevoss declared that ‘the band is back together’. Narendra created SumZero back in 2008 with fellow Harvard graduate Aalap Mahadevia, and it’s thought that the twins have backed the site with a tidy $1 million. With their lawsuit settled and having neglected to compete for the London Olympics, the athletes found themselves in possession of money and free time last December. They founded their investment platform Winklevoss Capital in February of this year and in June, SumZero was their debut investment. Currently in the region of 7,500 members, applications for membership to the site (of which roughly 75% are rejected) are still assessed personally by Narendra, and before they became part owners even the Winklevosses themselves weren’t allowed access to it. Membership is free for those who qualify; however for a $129 a month fee, Narendra will reveal hand-selected investment ideas (with permission from their authors) to outside investors who don’t meet the criteria for regular site involvement.

Facebook beats Google in Advertising Click-Through Stakes

(Infographic from Wordstream, May 2012)

Facebook Exchange, the social network’s real-time bidding component known as FBX, is doing four times better than its fellow real-time bidding systems in return on advertising dollars. Marketers are getting around $16 for every $1 they spend with FBX when they’re more accustomed to something in the region of $10. FBX came onto the scene in June and has been a financially vital move for Facebook in appealing to additional advertisers, having witnessed its stock price drop 45% since its May IPO. Facebook’s aim is to maintain track of specific user surfing practices to target ads in as little time as possible – for example, a Facebook member spending time on a supermarket website would be seeing special offers related to the same supermarket on the social networking site the same day. As more advertisers observe the value of real-time bidding, with 27% of US online display ad sales likely to come from it in 2015 according to IDC projections, Facebook may begin to command higher prices for its ads as FBX has the potential to snare as much as a fifth of the market, with a possibility for $1 billion generated in sales by next year alone.

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This post was written by Rob McNair

Rob has experience advising some of the worlds most iconic brands. He thrives on helping improving social media knowledge within organisations with the ultimate goal of making theirs brands more social, transparent and accountable.