Social media pioneer Friends Reunited, a website created in 2000 with the aim of connecting people to old school friends and others from their past, has been relaunched with a heavy focus on nostalgia.
Despite early success, amassing over 15 million members by December 2005, it faltered due to the success of websites such as Facebook, which entered the field with a much more streamlined design and didn’t use payment walls to block contact between members. Facebook traffic increased at a year-on-year rate of 2393 per cent in 2007, while Friends Reunited became stagnant at 1.2 per cent.
The last five years have seen a massive decline in its use, despite numerous attempts to revive it. Now, however, Friends Reunited is back with a bolder design change than ever before – but what is its unique appeal, in such a hotly contested marketplace?
Its main innovation appears to be the mixing of professional archive material with users’ own sentimental materials, creating a sort-of online scrapbook. Each user will have a ‘memory box’ in which they can collect items – a little like Pinterest’s pinboards.
The focus is therefore on past events, rather than the contemporary life commentary provided by Facebook. Despite the latter’s Timeline feature, allowing past information to be accessed, it is still very much centred on current developments.
Will it work? Well, that remains to be seen. But at present it is free to use, which should help. It is also connecting with other social media networks rather than attempting to fight its dominance, offering the facility to place an app within Facebook.
The new-look Friends Reunited website: http://www.friendsreunited.co.uk/.
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