Edmonton-based teen social network Nexopia today launched an update to it's user profile pages, the largest revision since the site's launch in 2003. The redesign includes a streamlined layout, Ajax controls for messages, galleries, and profile editing, new profile skinning options, and image resizing. To promote these changes, they're running a "Pimp Your Profile" contest with a 20" iMac as first prize. These additions don't entirely bring Nexopia to the same featureset as 800-pound gorilla competitor Facebook, but that doesn't seem to bother its highly active user base. Like the t-shirt implies, arguably the most compelling feature of Nexopia is it has maintained a reputation as a domain of teenagers and remains unattractive to older generations that are starting to take up social networking.
In addition to advertising, a significant source of Nexopia's revenue comes from "Nexopia Plus" memberships, $5 a month or $30 a year. Plus benefits include turning off ads, more pictures allowed, a higher friend limit, among others. Perhaps the most appealing benefit: the ability to see who's recently viewed your profile. Collecting payment for a premium service when your user base is mostly under 18 without credit cards has always been a challenge for Nexopia. This hurdle will now be overcome thanks to a partnership with Mac's Convenience Stores. Plus memberships will be available at all Mac's locations in Western Canada, where teenagers will be able to pay with cash.
Nexopia may not have the 100+ million users of Facebook or MySpace, but it is the largest Canadian social network and has very significant penetration within the teenage demographic of Alberta and BC, where most of it's 1.4 million users reside. The site's forums are the third largest on the Internet, with over 170 million posts. This last year has been good to Nexopia, first with a multi-million dollar investment from Burda Digital Ventures, and consequently having founder Timo Ewalds named as one of Alberta's 50 Most Influential People by AlbertaVenture magazine.
Disclosure: Nexopia CEO Boris Wertz is also a director of Techvibes Media Inc.