December 27, 2011

December: A Month of Major Platform Updates

Anyone who predicted December to be a quieter month due to the winding down period before the holidays couldn’t have been more mistaken. After much anticipation and speculation, this month saw major changes rolled out across the four biggest social networking platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube. Here I have listed the major updates that have launched during this single month (and there are many!). Hopefully this end-of-year timing will give users and developers some time to adjust before all launching headfirst into continuing our exciting work in the New Year:



This month Twitter launched a big change to their user interface called the ‘Let’s Fly’ design, now readily available for the web app, mobile (Android and iPhone) and launching for iPad apps soon. This new design is not only leveraging Twitter’s service for helping users ‘Discover’ new news and interests but also includes a shiny new lay out for brands, which is a first for Twitter. A few great add-ons included in this new layout is the ‘jump to the top’ function (no more endless scrolling!) and ‘tweet details’, where you can tap a tweet and immediately find out more information such as the full page, shared multimedia, linked web pages and the number of retweets and favourites the particular tweet has received. To find out more information on the new mobile design, follow @Twittermobile with offers tips and updates from the team. To see how the button layout has changed into the five new and easy to use functions (Me, Home, Connect, Discover and Tweet) watch this video brought by Twitter here.

–          8th December: Twitter Launches Brand Pages; The ‘Fly’ Design

–          16th December: Twitter Launches TweetDeck as Web App

–          21st December: Twitter available in four new languages: Finnish, Danish, Norwegian and Polish



The much anticipated Facebook Timeline was rolled out to users this month. This big change was first rolled out New Zealand and is now available for users across the globe. Currently, users must opt-in via the official Facebook link to swap their layout from the old version. The biggest addition is of course the ‘cover photo’ which is the most eye-catching feature of the page and thus important for users to choose wisely – especially once it is rolled out to brands.

Posts made by you are now called ‘Your Stories’ this is because the content you share on your page now comes in different formats. You might share what you are currently listening to on Spotify which groups together, the ‘Places’, ‘Events’ and ‘Pages’ you like/attend/visit will also be grouped together, making your profile easier to manage and control. One of the biggest changes I noticed is that there is a distinct lack of the ‘Wall’ which used to be the biggest feature for many users. Posts are dotted around the Timeline which make up a week based on time, rather than just one wall than you continuously scroll through. It’s kind of like a very personal RSS feed.

Once you have Timeline, you have seven days in which you are able to check it out, move things around and generally have a test before you click ‘Publish’, this is when your Timeline is live to all your friends and you cannot go back to the old version. You are able to delete, hide or add anything you wish to your Timeline. By clicking here you can see how many of your friends have currently implemented Timeline and check out their pages for inspiration!

–          6th December – Timeline is rolled out in New Zealand

–          15th December – Timeline rolled out Worldwide

–          xxx – (Yet to be confirmed) Timeline rolled out for brand pages



It’s a month on from the launch of Google+ brand pages (November 7) and a lot has happened since then. Such as Britney Spears being the first Google+ page to Top 1 million users and the release of the 2011 Google Zeitgeist list (of which the elusive iPhone 5 is listed). On the 19 December Google+ added three new improvements to its platform to primarily aid the management of brand pages. The finer detail of publishing content has been improved dramatically in which page admins are able to ‘graphic-equalize’ the publisher stream. This means that you can manage your streams down to the minute detail (in order to create the most optimized stream for your brand and its audience). A slider tool allows you to choose how you wish to filter you posts into the main content stream to increase visibility/impressions.

The next update is the improvement made to page management. Along with Buddy Media who was been selected last month as official launch partner, it looks like like Google+ pages are finally taking off in terms of content management. You can now have up to 50 admins on your brand page by ‘Adding a Manager’ via the page settings. This new feature also allows you to ‘Transfer Ownership’ which you can pass on admin rights from yourself to a new user. This is useful for when a community manager is stepping down from the page and needs to pass on all relevant information. The limitation of 50 admins per page also means more security control over the page. The other feature that makes the page management easier is the new notification flow that allows managers to communicate and keep abreast of all page activity at all times.

–          12th DecemberFurther integration between Gmail and Google+

–          14th December – Google+ expands ‘on-air’ Hangouts

–          19th DecemberGoogle+ rolls out multi-admin control

–          19th December – Google+ adjusts Volume Control to ‘Circle’s feature

–          21st December – Google+ Pages showing as primary search result



For a big part of this year the questions of many people’s lips has been ‘What the heck is Cosmic Panda?’ This month, it appears that Youtube has now unveiled this radical new look this month for its more than 800 billion users worldwide. The reasons for these changes, highlighted by the VP of product development for YouTube, Shishir Mehotra: “We’re trying to take what we see as the best of TV and the best of online and bring it together”.  This makes sense considering the way in which users are now consuming videos online more than ever and the ever rising social integration with TV.

The first thing I noticed when logging on is the stream in the middle of my homepage. I can now ‘subscribe’ to other channels which will feature in my feed as well as already getting updates from my Google+ circles. My Youtube and Gmail account are also even more closely aligned.

Channel pages have also changed and are now much slicker, with the addition of larger video screens, several new layout templates (creator, blogger, broadcaster, everything – screenshot below) and customization options. The ‘Video Manager’ allows you to edit your videos, including text, audio, transitions, annotations and a cutting tool. You can also now also personalize your homepage with the video suggestions with the ‘Recommended For You’ lists. It seems that this updated focus on social integration might be Youtube’s aim to make the website a place users spend longer periods of time by networking rather than a short-lived hotspot for watching a five minute videos.

There are also new additions to the Analytics toolkit, where the reporting facility has been made easier for users. YouTube have now included a ‘data filter’ in which you can now filter by content, location and time. The graph facility has also improved, the data granularity is more focused; you can now pin point data daily, weekly or monthly in a specific date range. You can also compare your data by charting Viewers directly next to Unique Viewers. For even more information on ‘What’s new’ in Youtube Analytics click here.

December 1st – YouTube takes live its web remake

In conclusion, it appears that all four of these huge networks are feeling the pressure to become the most integrated and most user friendly. Twitter’s focal points are on shareability (with newly embeddable Tweets), extending their focus to brands and also strengthening their ‘discover’ functionality, continuing to cement Twitter as the ‘news source’ in the social media landscape. Facebook is focusing more on the visual nature of pages, shareability, third-party integration and the bringing together of old and new data. Facebook also appear concentrating on making the platform all-inclusive. Google and Youtube are further integrating their services between each other and will continue, it appears, to put their focus on search more than anything else.

To round up this focus on the mayhem of changes and platform reworks, let me end this article by reflecting on how these platforms would have looked circa 1990:

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