Friends Reunited, the site best known for reuniting old school friends, is preparing itself for a relaunch.
This time, it’s positioning itself as the home of nostalgia online, celebrating “EVERY blast from the past” with a campaign that uses the phrase “Remember when?” to draw people in.
The new site is due to launch in the next few weeks, and encourages you to search for anything you can remember. You can "find, collect and share the memories you love with the people that were there too".
Working with digital marketing agency Croud, the site has created the video below - which heavily draws from Google, in terms of content, music, layout and technical demonstration. It’s not a bad company to be inspired by, and the result is really quite moving, but is it too little, too late?
The site says it still attracts over 7m users a year, but this is a fraction of market share in today’s socially-saturated market.
Plus, with new communities springing up every five minutes that centre around mobile – something that’s more releveant to changing consumer behaviour – how on earth can Friends Reunited carve a space for itself?
Jon Silk, head of Studio D UK at Waggener Edstrom
Instagram, Path and Pinterest have shown that there are huge opportunities for niche networks.
Facebook and Twitter aren’t going to be rattled by the relaunch of Friends Reunited, but if the proposition is focused enough it could win some unclaimed ground.
Looking at its new marketing, the target market seems to be over 40s who want to reminisce about big events in their lifetimes and might not be comfortable sharing every detail of their life on the web.
It’s pretty easy for part-time social networkers to be intimidated by Facebook and overwhelmed by Twitter. If Friends Reunited gets the interface and financial model right, it could crack the middle-aged market wide open, and do very well out of it.
Stephen Waddington, MD Speed
The existing data and premise of reconnecting with people from your school days is still valid, but has effectively been mothballed for years.
Facebook made it much easier. Friends Reunited needs to find ways to reconnect around interest points, not just the fact that you used to sit in classroom.
Joanna Wiggins, ASOS Marketplace editor
I expect the revamped Friends Reunited might well find its key users in the increasingly active ‘Mum’ demographic, who consider themselves too old for Facebook, but are ready to graduate from the ‘reply all’ email chain to a platform that can provide them with an easier way of chatting over shared images and experience.
By taking the focus off the Facebook ethos of ‘this is who I am’ and instead stressing ‘this is what we did’, Friends Reunited may be able to not only attract older, first time sharers but also those who are increasingly ‘over’ confusing facebook privacy terms.
The key to winning over with both groups will be simple user journeys and transparent privacy settings.
Max Tatton-Brown, account manager at EML Wildfire
It's an interesting pivot - and I think it speaks of the new age of social products that feature specialist functions and run across established networks like Facebook and Twitter. Instagram sucks in pictures, Pinterest for lists of things and it looks like Friends Reunited is going for memories.
However, it seems to be coming from the same logic as Facebook's Timeline redesign - what happens when your Facebook page is 5/10/15 years old? That's a fundamental clash that will be really difficult to overcome, especially when you consider that they are overlapping so clearly with core Facebook functionality.
Tristan Garrick, PR manager for the Direct Marketing Association
When Facebook is your competitor, it’s tough to make any meaningful impact in the social networking industry. It’s almost like trying to find space for another cola brand.
While Friends Reunited's product offering ostensibly doesn’t seem to be hugely different to what’s already available elsewhere, it’s interesting to note that Friends Reunited is differentiating itself on the point of simpler privacy controls and settings. It's trying to step away from Facebook’s business model of relying on personalised, targeting marketing as a primary revenue generator.
It will be interesting to see if people are willing to ditch their Facebook accounts and sign up with Friends Reunited solely on the basis that they want an environment with lighter marketing content. However, I don’t think that Facebook has cause for concern just yet.
Aisling McCarthy, senior account director at We Are Social
Even though Friends Reunited was one of the pioneers of social networking, it was Facebook that really shaped the culture and behaviour of the world of social. Although its usage is sure to plateau soon, I think that this year internet users are going to care more about sharing personal content on Facebook and discovering new tools for creation and curation.
There are a slew of new platforms out there at the moment but it looks like curation is a trend that is set to continue in 2012.
With the popularity of platforms such as Pinterest and Tumblr; I just don’t see Friends Reunited getting a look in. I’d like to see it prove me wrong – but sadly, I don’t think it’ll be too long before the site admits defeat for the last time.
Joy Stefanicki, social media consultant at CrowdControlHQ
Friends Reunited's approach of providing public access to nostalgia-driven photo archives could really make people take notice, especially given the current love for such content and all things image-based (cue obligatory Pinterest/Instagram mention).
I think it's being smart pushing privacy features as part of the relaunch, but is it original enough?
With Facebook now seemingly getting its privacy act together, G+ and Path catering for a more private experience, I'm struggling to see how the network will fit in.
Even with the strong affection I'm sure I'm not alone at feeling for the brand itself, I just don't think it will be enough to bring it back to its glory days - although I hope I'm proven wrong!