WordPress parent company Automattic raises $161 million

WordPress CEO and founder, Matt Mullenweg, confirmed earlier this month that parent company Automattic has raised $160 million from investors. The investments, including those by Insight Venture Partners, Chris Sacca and Endurance, brings the company’s reported value up to $1.16 billion.

This funding drives comes at a time when rival blogging and website platforms are also looking to invest substantial amounts. Squarespace recently raised $40 million while Weebly raised $35 million. “WordPress is in a market as competitive as it has ever been, especially on the proprietary and closed side,” Mullenweg states in a blog announcing the news. “I believe WordPress will win.”

Ironically, Mullenweg, who took over as CEO from long-time business partner Toni Schneider in January, noted in an earlier blog post that he didn’t think additional funding was necessary. Since taking on his new role, he has changed tactics.

“Things were and are going well, but there was an opportunity cost to how we were managing the company toward break-even, and we realized we could invest more into WordPress and our products to grow faster,” Mullenweg wrote in the post. “Also our cash position wasn’t going to be terribly strong especially after a number of infrastructure and product investments this and last year.”

According to statistics compiled by W3Techs, WordPress software powers 22% of the world’s top 10 million websites. More than 40 million WordPress blogs are posted each month, with more than 400 million readers. Automattic has sought to build on this platform this year, making a number of exciting acquisitions to strengthen WordPress’ offerings, including the purchase of premium service Longreads, which curates longer articles from around the web.

According to a report by Recode, interest in the funding round was high and WordPress could have taken up to $220 million. The round is now closed, however, and Mullenweg has stated that he will use the funds created to expand the number of WordPress employees – they currently employ a small team of 240 – grow the business and focus more on marketing. He also wishes to release a new version of WordPress.com.

Twitter might get rid of @replies and hashtags

Twitter could be doing away with some of its most recognisable features: the hashtag and the @reply.

Twitter’s Head of News, Vivian Schiller, stated at a media conference in Denver that the site’s communication methods were “arcane” and implied that Twitter was developing a way to integrate them more smoothly into the site. “We are working on moving the scaffolding of Twitter into the background,” she said.

These comments follow another, similar statement by Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo, who admitted that new users sometimes struggle to get to grips with Twitter. He said: “By bringing the content of Twitter forward and pushing the scaffolding of the language of Twitter to the background, we can increase high-quality interactions and make it more likely that new or casual users will find this service as indispensable as our existing core users do.”

“We took initial steps in that direction with the introduction of media forward timelines and in-line social actions in October, and we’re already starting to see early signs that those initiatives are working well.”

So what’s next? It’s hard to imagine Twitter without its ubiquitous hashtags, especially since their use has spilled over into other prominent social networking sites like Pinterest and Instagram. Saying that, I won’t deny that it irks me beyond reasonability when they are used improperly. If “pushing the scaffolding to the background” makes hashtags like #ExcitedToGetMyHairCutOnTuesday redundant, then that can only be a good thing, in my opinion.

As for the @replies, Buzzfeed has published some screenshots that suggest that Twitter is testing a version sans @replies with its alpha test group for their Android app. It seems that the @reply is automatically removed when a user includes it in a comment. Other than that, the function works in exactly the same way. This seems to work okay when you’re having a one-on-one conversation, but would definitely need more work for when you’re conversing with several users at once.

Costolo finished by saying, ”we don’t think we need to change anything about the characteristics of our platform, we simply need to make Twitter a better Twitter.” We shall wait with bated breath to see what that entails. 

BrightonWP not affected by Heartbleed

Rest assured BrightonWP clients, our Hosting provider WPEngine has issued a notice saying all WPEngine hosted sites are safe from the current version of the Heartbleed bug. Please follow this link for more details.

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When we launched the new London Luggage ecommerce site three months ago, we had no idea how quickly things would grow. Thanks to our combination of original blog content, great competitions, sustained social media marketing and easy-to-use functionality within the site, London Luggage has seen a marked and rapid spike in online revenue and engagement with the brand.

We’ve seen the Facebook fanbase grow from around 150 users to 2000 in the space of a week and there’s been a really positive response to the newsletters that we’ve worked hard to create. We’ve increased the number of Twitter and Pinterest followers, too. 

In other good news, there’s been a huge increase in competition entries, so we’re pleased more people are in with a chance of bagging themselves and a friend a great prize. The lucky winner of our Facebook giveaway will win themselves a one night stay in a top London hotel with breakfast for two, two tickets to a West End show of your choice and £500 worth of Samsonite luggage. The competition ends on the 14th of April, so get your entries in fast! Like the London Luggage Facebook page to win!

Alternatively, you can follow them on Pinterest or Twitter to ensure you don’t miss out on any exclusive offers or new lines.

If you would like to know more about our social media packages and how to increase your brand’s social reach, then read on for more information. Or, if you are thinking of setting up your own ecommerce website, then we’d love to help. Read here for more information.

The Top Five Twitter Hashtags For Those In Business

For today’s modern entrepreneurs, Twitter is one of the most important and influential tools available. Not only does it provide a platform for relevant and timely updates to anyone who follows you, but it also allows access to a whole wealth of information and support from likeminded individuals. All you have to do is find them.

Fortunately, finding useful material on Twitter is easy, should you utilise the tools available to you. Along with seeking out relevant users to follow, searching for well established or popular hashtags is a sure-fired way of finding relevant information, contacts and discourse on your chosen subject.

Just in case you’re unaware, the function of a hashtag is simply to search for tweets that have a common theme. For example, if you’re a keen gardener in your spare time, you may search for tweets containing the hashtag #gardening. The subsequent tweets containing the hashtag should provide information and links relevant to your interest in gardening.

There are many useful hashtags out there dedicated to providing helpful advice, articles and tips for those in business. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or have just launched your first startup, everyone in business can benefit from taking a look at some of these hashtags. We’ve listed a few of the best here to help get your company off to the best possible start in 2014.

#smallbusiness

This hashtag focuses on small business owners, providing links, tips and articles on business strategies, finance, marketing and sales. The stream will be useful to both new and established business owners who want to keep an edge on the competition. Experts are regularly available to give tips and share tricks of the trade.

#socialbusiness

This is an exciting, lively conversation for those who want to incorporate social media into their business strategy. People share links, infographics and experiences to help you stabilise and boost your business through the use of social media. Here you’ll also find news and updates on the latest technology so you can stay ahead of the game and dedicated content catering to all sorts of different businesses.

#marketing

Twitter in general is fantastic for marketing. You can chat directly with your customers, let them know about offers and provide information about new products or developments. The #marketing hashtag allows business owners and entrepreneurs to share tips and solutions to any marketing issues or concerns that arise. You can also talk to marketing experts and gain advice on how to market effectively to the right kind of customer.

#smallbusinesssaturday

This hashtag was created by American Express in order to advise buyers on the many benefits that come with supporting small and local businesses. It has since morphed into a venue for users to share insights online, promote small businesses and highlight local shops every Saturday, in a manner similar to #FollowFriday. You’ll also find effective techniques and useful guidelines on how to maintain your small business too.

#startups

Avoid making common mistakes when launching your own business by gathering some information found on this hashtag. Find warnings and advice from people who have set up successful businesses from scratch and testimonials and experiences of those in the process of running or launching a startup.
Have you used any of these before or do you know any other useful business hashtags? Let us know in the comments below.

Twitter tests new profile design, takes cues from Facebook and Google+

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Twitter is currently roadtesting a drastic new profile page design which puts images at the forefront, doing away with its iconic chronological stream. The update, available to only a select number of users at the moment, bears much more likeness to Facebook or Google+ with its new mosaic style display for your content. Twitter broke huge ground when it launched in 2006 with its emphasis on a steady, chronological stream of information, but now it seems to be moving away from these ideals, focusing more on photos and content cards in its new design.

The update features an extended header image which now fits across the entirety of the screen, a larger profile photo and a tiled display of your tweets. You can toggle between “Tweets” and “Tweets and Replies” and the biography section has been moved to the left, underneath the ‘Who to Follow’, and ‘Trending’ sections, mimicking Facebook’s Timeline. Ironically, it wasn’t so long ago that Facebook made the switch from a tiled, two column Timeline to a more straightforward chronological list.

Twitter’s growth has slowed recently, so its no surprise its developers are trying something new.  The majority of Twitter’s users use the network primarily on a mobile device as its simple design plus emphasis on short bursts of information works well for when you fancy checking the news or finding out what your friends are up to when you’re out and about. Facebook, on the other hand, places its emphasis on photographs and videos over written content, so it works well on a desktop screen where you can scroll through large images happily. This new approach to content could be Twitter’s way of trying to attract a more diverse range of users with more emphasis on desktop access.

Nothing else has changed yet, so we don’t know how much of the homepage or other areas of the site will change, or if they will at all. Should Twitter choose to roll out this redesign, the new look would likely also benefit the company’s sponsored tweet business, pushing Twitter more firmly into the content marketing arena. So far, opinion of the redesign has been mostly negative with many users lamenting the lack of chronology in the new layout. It’s worth noting, however, that user opinion of Facebook’s Timeline and News Feed features were also met with a barrage of criticism when they were first implemented, but are now seen as fundamental to the site experience.

 Were you picked to test the new profile design? Tell us what you think in a comment below.

Facebook is 10!

February 4th 2004 introduced the world to Facebook. 10 years later and Facebook is the biggest social network in the world, with 1.23 billion users, many claiming they couldn’t live without it.

Users on Facebook post life events such as the birth of their children, wedding photos, new jobs, relationships and almost everything they do daily. Facebook has become a modern day photo journal where users can look back through their timeline profile at any point and have an online record of their daily activity.

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To celebrate their 10th Birthday a one off release called Look Back.

Look Back is intended to be a sentimental experience. It lets its users watch a personalised movie, view a series of their photos, or read a thank you card from Facebook, depending on how much content the user has posted to their profile. Click here to create a Look Back of your Facebook profile.

The introduction of Facebook pages has also changed the way business market themselves online. A large percentage of businesses now have as Facebook page, in fact some businesses are run solely through the presence of a Facebook page. The pages give businesses the opportunity to interact with their customers through photos, comments and messages.

Customers also have the option to rate the business and leave feedback on the Facebook page. One of the most valuable areas of the Facebook page is Facebook insights which give page admins an indepth overview as to their new likes, most popular posts, recent activity and more.

Some reports are suggesting Facebook could be loosing the attention of teenagers, claiming they are beginning to find it boring, however other reports suggest Facebook is as popular as ever with a high percentage of users claiming it has changed their life!

What are your thoughts? Let us know!

Think your business could benefit from a Facebook page? Need some help brand aligning your page? View our social media branding page to find out more.

Ingenious Packaging

We’ve been pinning away and creating several boards on Pinterest.  One of them is a packaging board full of ingenious, design led packaging. We’re intrigued by the quirky and fun use of cool and arresting typography on everything from milk cartons to shaving gel to organic wine.

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It’s interesting to see sustainable materials being incorporated into design.  For example these biodegradable, recyclable packaging materials by Swedish company Billerud, They use very flexible materials which can be easily formed into soft, natural looking shapes.  It makes an interesting change from standard brown paper bag type recyclable packaging.

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We love the use of bright colour pops incorporated in to packaging for everyday items like these milk bottles with a different colour representing different types of milk.

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And last but not least, we couldn’t resist mentioning these lifelike juice cartons which really made us smile.

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You can see more ingenious packaging on our Packaging board on our Pinterest page.

Holidays are Coming!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Here’s a selection of lovely stuff for the holiday season from Christmas wrapping to vintage Christmas posters and lots of yuletide stuff in between.  See more on our Pinterest page.361beab50332c74e0ad3d7e4c9bed21e Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 12.29.20 Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 12.31.56 Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 12.33.17Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 12.35.31

Facebook Stories – Year in Review 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, we thought we’d share with you a look back at the people, moments and places around the world that mattered most on Facebook in 2013. 

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See the full story for yourself at Facebook Stories