So Friends Reunited is making a comeback, promising ‘something different’ in the hope of reclaiming its position as the no.1 UK fronted social networking site. The new angle is all based around nostalgia, allowing members to create ‘memory boxes’ of things they remember from years gone by.
After reading the BBC Online view I was immediately unconvinced by the re-emergence of a site that was crippled by Facebook (like many others) in the late noughties. ITV had shelled out a cool £175m for it in 2005 but were forced to offload it for one seventh of that figure just four years later!
The memory box, or to use Friends Reunited’s full description ‘virtual memory shoebox’ concept also initially failed to excite me as it sounded remarkably similar to the latest social fad, Pinterest. But after having a little play around for myself, I was pleasantly surprised by the new features. Clearly a lot of work has gone into creating an extensive digital library of memories that will strike a chord with Brits. A link up with the Press Association and the British Library means site owner Brightsolid has an enormous array of images, newspaper cuttings and resources to offers its members.
The layout of the memory search offers a simple navigation and has categorised content into sections which evoke emotional attachments, such as ‘What We Wore’ which holds a host of galleries from 80s clothing catalogues, to fashion icons of years gone by. My personal favourite is the ‘Our Sporting Life’ category, which allows members to search classic kits from their club’s past and view FA Cup Final match programmes going all the way back to 1923.
But alas, as much as I enjoyed having a dabble, I couldn’t really see anything that would keep people coming back for more on a regular basis. I was also surprised to see that rather than the memory box concept becoming part of the social network’s offering, giving members a reason to chat with their ‘reunited friends’, it appears as though it has become the whole site, meaning all the forum, instant messaging and friend finding elements seem to have gone, which means a. surely it’s not ‘Friends Reunited’ anymore, and b. it’s not all that social. Sure, you can share your memory box on other networks like, wait for it, Facebook, but it feels more like a nice application people play with a couple of times and then move on to the new edition of Angry Birds. Perhaps Brightsolid are hoping Mr. Zuckerberg’s UK team love it so much that they recommend Facebook buy the software from them (ideally for at least one seventh of £175m).