2006. Social networking was myspace or bebo (if you were from the UK or Ireland). Facebook was virtually unheard of. Bebo, at least in Ireland, was growing rapidly… so rapidly it would eventually become the largest social network in the country. Bebo was growing rapidly in the UK & Australia too….
Fast forward four years and bebo is a nothing site. It’s on life support. So what went wrong? How could such a huge website with so much potential go from boom to bust in such a short space of time? I’ll tell you why. Greed. Making decisions to suit business and not users.
Turn the clock back to may 2007. This was when i first became concerned about where bebo was going… I blogged bebo using adsense;
i noticed however theyâ€™re running adsense now on certain pages.. rather surprising i thought.. it means bebo canâ€™t control the ads placed on the site, and thus the quality of links can be spammy or poor which will anger users…
… i came across credit card ads and pre-fab buildings for saleâ€¦ yes, iâ€™m sure the average teenager is interested in that sort of stuff. Seems as though somebody is getting a bit greedy if you ask me
The running expenses and wages have to be paid somehow of course, but i donâ€™t think adsense is a good solution for a site the size of bebo, whoâ€™s userbase has no cash in general. They should be leading the way in video ads imo..
A few months later, still in 2007, i published this post on Myspace, Facebook or Bebo – the way i see it… in it, i gave my honest opinion on what i thought about each site at that time… i was pretty optimistic about facebook & bebo, making bebo out to be the one with greater potential…
For me, the wheels fell off bebo in early 2008 and looking back my predictions and concerns were right on the money… in January 2008, i published a post titled more ads on bebo.
That was followed by bebo gone to hell in February 2008;
Ok, something has to be done about all the apps and crap that are now on bebo, but itâ€™s their own bloody fault for opening up their platform.
Theyâ€™ve created a real mess now imo and theyâ€™re gonna suffer because of it. Change is good for websites, it keeps people on them. But changes which make things harder to find and annoy users are not changes people want to see.
No doubt revenue is up and traffic is flying, but itâ€™s short term gain for long term sacrifice. They are driving people like me away from bebo.
At that time, bebo was still on the up… it was yet to hit it’s peak but i could see beyond the stats.
Finally in January 2009, Bebo Fail;
Anyway, this is why bebo is dying / dead. The cool kids have moved on to bigger and better things and unless bebo can change things about, theyâ€™ll get left behind. Nobody uses bebo because of the fact itâ€™s bebo â€” they use it because all of their friends are on it. If the most influential friends jump ship, the rest follow, eventually.
My words of wisdom amaze me That’s exactly what happened to bebo… the influencers left & jumped ship to facebook and the rest followed.
No giant is safe online, ever…
Social networking is not facebook or it’s not bebo… it’s social networking. People… groups, connections. If all of my friends are on myspace, why would i use facebook? I wouldn’t.
It’s the same meeting up at a pub. If you know all of your friends are at pub ‘x’, why would you go to pub ‘y’? You wouldn’t. Movements from ‘x’ to ‘y’ don’t happen overnight… they take time, but that time is reduced by a now ‘real time’ internet. Movements from one site to another by a mass group of people can happen much quicker today than it could have done 3 or 4 years ago.
That’s why no social network is safe. Not facebook, not anyone. If something better comes along loyalty is thrown out the window and herd mentality kicks in. Unfortunately for the bebo owners (AOL), they bought bebo for $850m just when that shift was occurring, only they were too blinded by the promising looking stats to realize it. Now, bebo is deserted and the only way they’ll get people back is by topping whatever facebook do, but they don’t have the cash or probably the know how to do that. So it’s all over i’m afraid. But it’s not like i can say i didn’t see it coming…