It has been a hectic week in the tumultuous world of social media, so, sit back and let the Connect team join the social dots on your behalf!

Twitter’s CEO search begins now, former CEO discusses decision to stand down

Less than one week after announcing his resignation as Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, Dick Costolo took to the stage at the Bloomberg Technology Conference in San Francisco to discuss his controversial departure.

Costolo explained that the decision to stand down came at the end of last year in an annual board meeting. He revealed: “We sat down and I said: “Next year will will be my sixth year with the company – it’s time to start thinking about what the succession plan looks like.” I came in as the COO and the board asked me to step up in the fall of 2010. After six years, it just felt like the right time (to leave).”

On July 1st, Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and CEO of payments company, Square, will step in as interim CEO at Twitter while the board searches for a suitable replacement. Costolo has offered up some words of wisdom to Dorsey, suggesting that an open mind will be needed in order for Twitter to turn a corner and remove itself from the social rut it is currently in. He said: “One of the things you want to do when you’re running a big company, trying to develop a cadence and move quickly, is make sure that you’re learning as fast as you can and that you don’t hold on to dogmas too long that get in the way of changing or learning.

“There are so many different ways to be successful in this game, and choosing to adopt a specific “this is the only way to do that” approach is never a good way to think about things.”

One thing is for sure, Twitter now has to find a way of becoming a profitable business, as at present; its growth is stalling, the average ad spend is rapidly decreasing and users are beginning to tune out. A flurry of new features are expected over the coming months, such as its attempt at live content curation, and these new developments may well go some way in helping to balance Twitter’s books, but the money-making journey ahead for the network will undoubtedly be a long and unsettling one until it is capable of finding its feet in the business arena.

Facebook joins forces with Shopify for Buy button soft launch

Facebook has been testing its own native ‘Buy’ button for quite some time, with many catching glimpses of the elusive e-commerce feature in their News Feed over the past few months. However, the network is now preparing to open up sales opportunities to more retailers with its recently announced Shopify integration.

At present when a user is greeted with an ad for a product or service , they will be re-directed to the merchants own platform. Facebook’s new tool will allow the shopper to purchase directly through a dedicated sales portal on Facebook, eliminating the need for re-directs and saving the user time on their route to purchase. Users will be encouraged to store default payment information on Facebook’s servers for quicker transactions, with third-party vendor support expected to rollout as the feature evolves.

This move is a big step forward for Facebook, and also for those wishing to sell or advertise their own goods or services on the network – with the opportunity to steadily boost conversion rates, speed up the route to purchase and keep users routed inside a walled garden. The button should also help Facebook compete for e-commerce success in light of Pinterest’s latest feature announcement, ‘Buyable Pins’, which will allow instant digital transactions, and competition from Google, who also plan to offer a similar feature across its SERPs at some point this year.

Twitter strikes gold with Project Lightning

Twitter is preparing to up the ante when it comes to featuring the latest live events with a new feature codenamed ‘Project Lightning’. The feature aims to bring curated content direct to users by switching its traditional timeline format out for a multimedia-focused UI that is accessed by a tapping a dedicated button on the native Twitter app.

Speaking to BuzzFeed earlier this week, Twitter’s Head of Products, Kevin Weil said: “It could be current events, breaking news or awards shows or sports, but also cultural events and moments.”

The new feature will package popular stories into a collection of curated tweets chosen by a team of editors, built around tweets, Periscope shorts and Vines with a view to fully immersing the viewer into rich and engaging content pulled straight from Twitter and its supported services.

Twitter has said that the service, which is expected launch in the coming weeks, will be virtually lag-free and accessible to those without a registered Twitter account.

LinkedIn gives Pulse a much-needed facelift

LinkedIn’s content distribution network, Pulse, has undergone a major visual transformation.

The company launched a redesigned version of Pulse’s iOS and Android app on Wednesday, taking a more curated approach to surfacing news – a significant departure from the network’s previous approach to curating content and serving it to the reader.
Moving away from the traditional RSS-like model, the new version of Pulse boasts a cleaner design, bringing it closer in line with LinkedIn’s other apps.

The app’s home page now displays a personalised feed based on the data featured on your LinkedIn profile. The app will assess the information you have added to your LinkedIn profile, such as your job title, industry, company and connections to surface news stories it believes will be most relevant to you. The existing Pulse publishers that you follow will also feature prominently in the content populated to you. Interestingly, if the app detects that a particular article is quickly increasing in popularity in circles closely linked to yours, it will pull the content and surface it to you.

The redesigned version of Pulse is available on iOS and Android now.

Twitter testing new heart-shaped favourite tweets

Twitter’s latest feature experiment has seen the network swap out its existing star-shaped ‘Favourite’ button on its Android app in favour of a new heart-shaped tab. Users may notice two different variations of the newly-designed: circled hearts or borderless hearts.The UX process of ‘favouriting’ a tweet remains exactly the same for the user – only the visual design of the button has changed at present.

As per Twitter’s regular feature testing, only a small number of selected users will notice the change, and there’s no guarantee that any permanent changes will be made after initial testing is complete.

The timing of this minor change is perhaps the most interesting aspect, with early Twitter investor, Chris Sacca (the same man who stated that Google should swoop in and snap Twitter up ASAP) suggested that the social network is ready to “bring on the hearts” in his 8,500-word memo released earlier this month.

He said: “If Twitter integrated a simple heart gesture into each Tweet, engagement across the entire service would explode. More of us would be getting loving feedback on our posts and that would directly encourage more posting and more frequent visits to Twitter.”

It would appear that Twitter is listening very closely to the wise words of its early investor, and with another 8,459 words left in his critical memo, it would appear that we could be in for many more changes over the coming months.

Ello continues to fight for social visibility

Remember Ello? The ad-free social startup appeared towards the end of last year for a brief period before disappearing deep into the social ether. The network is back for one last bite of the social cherry with a brand new iOS app and a completely redesigned UI.

Created by a small group of artists who had grown tired of ads and the privacy concerns that plague many of the other major social networks, Ello is a social platform that allows the user to dictate what types of content they wish to see from acquaintances. With an lifelong promise of no algorithms, ads or paid content purchases, Ello allows you to connect with friends, be inspired, and share what matters most on an ad-free and secure network.

The Ello Manifesto carefully lays out the network’s plans and promises to its user base: “Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.

You are not a product.”

The redesigned Ello app is available on iOS and Android today.

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