Meta continues to reformat its New Product Experimentation (NPE) team, which, up till now, has been working on various experimental apps, with the shut down of another NPE project.
Dating app ‘Sparked', som enables users to hold 4-minute video chats with potential matches in order to better decide on their suitability before moving forward, is the latest NPE app to be cut from the rotation, as Meta seeks new avenues for development of its tools.
Evidently, Sparked never truly caught on, and Meta is now cutting its losses, and removing support for the project, with any learnings, you would assume, to be integrated into its broader Facebook Dating project.
Sparked users have been informed that the app will shut down for good on January 20th, with users able to download their information from the app till then.
As noted, Meta has been working to re-align the focus of its NPE team, which has released a swathe of apps over the past two years as it sought to tap into the latest user trends, and get ahead of the next big thing.
Seemingly, none of those experiments worked, with the full list of the NPE team’s apps reflecting the ebbs and flows of online fads throughout the period.
- Super, a Cameo-like platform for connecting with celebrities, which appears to be no longer available
- Hotline, a social audio app in the vein of Clubhouse which launched in beta last April, but has since been removed
- Prognos, which aimed to facilitate crowd-sourced predictions, was launched in June 2020, then shut down in October last year
- Venue, a live sports engagement app was launched in May 2020, and shut down sometime last year
- CatchUp, to facilitate phone calls between friends who are up for a chat, launched in May 2020 and is now gone from the App Store
- Samarbeta, for music collaborations via short video clips launched in May 2020 and will shut down this March.
- Kit, which provided expanded messaging options via Apple Watch, is now gone from the app store
- Hobbi, which provided a way to collect images of creative hobbies, and sort them into boards lasted just six months
- Whale, a meme creation tool, quietly launched in November 2019, lasted till just recently, based on reported updates.
- AUX, a participatory DJ app also didn’t make it
- Bump, a chat app, also failed to hold its place
In fact, of the thirteen experimental apps launched by the NPE team since November 2019, only two still remain active – rap creation app ‘Bars’ is still in the App Store, along with ‘Tuned’, a messaging app for couples. The track record here likely suggests they also won’t be long for this world.
Meta meddelat last month that the NPE team would be shifting its focus to building with and for communities that have “historically been overlooked, underestimated, and undervalued by our industry”. The idea here is that while the latest broad-scale trends can drive greater app adoption, there are many areas where new use cases and functionalities are evolving, which may not have as broad appeal, but could lead to significant new shifts.
“We’re expanding from our current US footprint to build with and for communities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and scaling what works there across the globe. Right now, the increase of global connectivity and falling cost of experimentation have created new opportunities. During this next era, anyone with a design mindset, wherever they are, can quickly see that rapid experimentation overrides received wisdom, and adapt. We need to be more intentional about building with proximity to how the world looks today, and how it’s going to look tomorrow. In time, this is how we’ll learn to identify universal experiences.”
Evidently, part of this will see the group clearing the slate, in order to re-focus on these new projects. How exactly that will look, and whether these new experiments will be any more successful, or valuable in the long term, remains to be seen, but it’s interesting to see Meta shutting down these past experiments, which, at one time, had seemingly held significant enough promise for exploration.
Does that flag an end to Meta’s trend-chasing, and working to fend off potential competition in the space? Maybe Meta’s now moving away from copycatting, and instead turning to the future, with projects more focused on the next stage of connection – i.e. the metaverse.
The new focus, which also includes new offices for the team in Lagos and Asia, could be a big shift, and it’ll be interesting to see how these new collaborations and partnerships evolve over time.
But if you’re keen to test out your rap skills, I’d download ‘Bars’ pretty soon.
Elon Musk beskriver färdplanen för "Twitter 2.0" i New Slide Deck
Elon Musk has provided some more insight into his evolving plan for Twitter, which will now also see the company embark on a hiring push, after firing 65% of its workforce, in order to get in more development and engineering talent to help realize Musk’s grand vision.
And with that, Musk has put together a new pitch deck, of sorts, which aims to clarify his current plan. Which, as noted, is evolving quickly, so it may end up being totally different, it may be indicative – we don’t know for sure as yet.
But he is slowly clarifying and honing in on specific elements.
Here’s a look at the collection of slides that Musk has put together to present his current strategic outline for the app.
As you can see in this first slide, Musk’s presentation shows that new account sign-ups are at an all-time high, with the chart going back to 2014.
I’m not sure what that means in isolation. Definitely, that could mean that more people are keen to get in on Twitter conversation, and with Facebook getting stale, and Instagram suffering an identity crisis, Twitter is seemingly becoming a more interesting consideration.
But it would also be worth noting where these new sign-ups are coming from. Are these US users, maybe freedom of speech-ers signing up to Elon’s new, more open public square? Are these users in developing markets, as has been Twitter’s predominant growth trend for the past three years, as US usage has stagnated?
Could this be scammers signing up for a lot more accounts very quickly – because in order to qualify for Twitter Blue, and get a blue checkmark, accounts will have to have been active for at least 90 days prior?
It’s a stat, for sure, but without further context, it’s hard to make any conclusion on what it means.
The next chart is User Active Minutes, which is also at an all-time high.
That is interesting – based on this chart, divided by the current number of active users, which Musk has also shared, the average Twitter user is now spending 31.5 minutes per day in the app.
That’s not radically different than what’s been previously reported, though some reports have suggested Twitter usage has declined significantly in recent times. These numbers actually reinforce that, with Twitter’s session time down in the low teens (seemingly) till 2021, then rising again of late – though I suspect the lower chart is supposed to say ‘November 2022’ at the bottom right.
Basically, the data shows that Twitter is back at its previous usage levels, after losing its way for some time. Which is not surprising given Musk’s capacity to spark controversy and discussion.
There are also some more questionable charts that show a decline in hate speech:
Note that the qualifier here is tweets ‘with 1+ slur’ from a curated list, and a ‘Toxicity score’ of 0.91 or higher. This is a little vague and lacks the full context of what this represents.
Det finns också detta:
Which just shows that a lot more people were engaging in impersonation in the app when Twitter started allowing them to buy Blue verification ticks, then, when Twitter pulled the $8 verification plan, fewer impersonations were reported.
Like, yeah, you opened the door for them to scam people with misleading verified accounts, so they took advantage, and now they’re not, because they can’t. At least until Twitter re-launches the $8 verification plan next week.
Musk then also shared this overview of his current roadmap, which is pretty much a re-angling of Twitter’s current features.
'Reklam as entertainment’ uses an example of an automated sampling script to create a more engaging ad experience (‘like this tweet and I’ll show you which house you belong to based on your tweets’). Not sure if Musk is suggesting that this is something Twitter will be offering as an ad tool, but thus far, these types of activations have been created by brand partners, in collaboration with Twitter. If Twitter does move to make this an actual ad feature, that could be difficult to scale.
Note that Twitter also released Branded Likes, a related ad engagement option, back in June.
The next frame, as you can see, just says video with a randomized example
Not sure exactly what this means, but Musk has flagged allowing longer video clips to be attached to tweets, while he’s also talking about a creator monetization program, which would offer a more beneficial revenue share than YouTube’s 45/55 split.
Encrypted DMs are fast becoming the standard, with Meta also integrating full encryption across Messenger, Instagram Direct and WhatsApp. That’s raised the hackles of many law enforcement groups, who say that this will offer protection for criminals, but it will also provide more security, and assurance, for general users.
There’s also Longform Tweets, for which Musk has shared a screenshot of Twitter Notes, which has been in development over the past year.
Notes enables you to create posts of up to 2,500 words, which are then natively embedded into the Twitter app for easy sharing.
Then there’s the revamped $8 verification plan, which I’ve shared my thoughts on here.
Oh, and payments:
No examples here, but based on Musk’s previous statements, it seems like he’s looking to follow the same game plan with payments that various other apps have already tried. You start off by facilitating funds transfers between accounts, enabling fee-free remittance, a key benefit in developing markets. Then, once people are already moving money in the app, you offer more ways to use it, via in-app purchases, bill payments, banking, etc.
This is Musk’s big, overarching plan to make Twitter a more critical app – but as noted, various others have tried, and the regulatory hurdles alone have made it a nightmare to enact.
Maybe Musk will have better luck in moving things forward, but it’s a big challenge, which will take time – which is also why there’s no example image for this as yet.
Of course, the mention of payments will also fire up all the crypto enthusiasts, who view Musk as a key leader in mainstreaming crypto payments. That definitely won’t be happening, but I suspect that this is another reason why Musk has left this slide blank, to offer a glimmer of hope to his fanatical fan base.
Which is what Elon does best. Question his business and intellectual acumen all you want, but he sure does know how to get attention, which is really the most valuable, tangible skill that he brings to any project. He’s a walking PR machine, who’s now been given the keys to his own platform millions of users, and it’s pretty clear that he’s enjoying the attention he now commands as Twitter-in-chief.
The next question then is, how many media tricks does Elon have up his sleeve?
Each of these actions has sparked its own media cycle, and brought a heap more attention to Musk and Twitter as a result, but when the stunts run out, what then?
Can Musk keep coming up with more attention-grabbing changes at the app, or will this roadmap actually lead to a more sustainable business, enabling him to stop grabbing headlines, and leave Twitter to its own devices?
In essence, that’s what these usage charts show, that Musk is really good at getting attention.
But it’s what comes after that will make or break the business.
Oh, also, someone has suggested that the tweet character count should be expanded to 420 instead of the current 280. Given Musk’s affinity for this number, that’ll probably happen.
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