The recent news released this week, AOL is reportedly deciding on what to do with it’s 850 million dollar venture. Should it shut down BEBO or sell it to another company. Hopefully they decide to sell it for Bebo’s sake. Shutting down the site with it’s users is such a downer way to go. It already has it’s own European following that awesomely continues to maintain the site bringing in new skins and applications, and socializing features. The site ran fine on it’s own before the purchase, but it stirred quite a few headaches once AOL forced it’s own profile system onto it.
What Went Wrong?
Bebo’s Unique Visitor count has fallen from 5 million to 1.8 million.
What could have caused this downward trend?
AOL Members Experience During the Transition
To understand this story a bit better, we need to understand the mind of typical AOL user. AOL is mostly used for emails, and connecting with friends and that’s pretty much it. Whenever AOL enacts a change to the service, AOL members are up in arms over the change. You can put this into perspective with how the typical Facebook user dislikes any upgrades Facebook adds to enhance the site.
The major gripes with the AOL Bebo integration stemmed firstly from its drastic change from the previous profile system. AOL users are used to an open profile system with simplistic features and minimalistic approach. Privacy options were opt in features, so it made it extremely easy connect with other AOL and AIM members in chatrooms. The Bebo transition caused it’s first headache when all profiles were suddenly placed into private by default. Users who were unfamiliar with the system had difficulty finding features, some questioned how they could make their profiles public again.
AOL developers tried to ease the transition by transferring AOL Profile related features to Bebo. This resulted in what could be called a “two faced Bebo”. We’re not quite sure why but OLD AOL profiles who transferred to the profile system were allowed access to these exclusive modules. Any screennames created after the transition, were not allowed access to these modules and instead were forced to use Bebo’s own modules. The most important of these modules was the “Code Snippet” box which allowed HTML editing.
AOL has yet to fix their own Bebo Modules for four months now…
AOL users also had to worry about one extra thing, duplicate names. Some AOL users found themselves with profile urls using extra numbers due to an original BEBO user using the same name. This caused some confusion as it was thought that the original Bebo user stole their password, or some faulty glitch in the system.
Bebo Users Experience During the Transition
On the flipside, the typical Bebo user are in there teens. They are interested in flashy gaudy websites, music, soccer, and pop stars. Each of their interests leans towards the U.K music industry.
Bebo users also had to make due to some changes, especially within the profile system and layout. The Login page now sported both a BEBO and AOL login form. The home page went through it’s own transition, now linking to AOL related products like Lifestream, AOL Mail and a To Do page.
The profile page went through a major transition, as now a flash timeline bar appears at the top, and several profile features were switched around spaced out further. The layout change spurred several hate groups with petitions to get the old profiles back. These groups pleaded for AOL to actually allow the option to choose the old profile layout. Unfortunately AOL did not listen to them. During the transition, BEBO users had to deal with server outages and broken features.
They Changed it Now it Sucks
AOL Members just could not ever see any real value in Bebo. They described it as a “teeny bopper” site, and wondered why in the world AOL moved their profiles to a children’s site. Even teenage Americans had to put up with foreign concepts that were seemingly popular on Bebo. Ever heard of the Fittest girls? Chavs? Or how about Footy Girls? No? Believe me that has nothing to do with foot fetishes (sort of..) These are terms more often used in Europe rather than America. The types of music they listen to, the style, the shows, the drama, it was just a different experience, sort of like a culture shock…
The source described Bebo’s demise as the inevitable outcome when digital media startups are bought by more established companies. “You set out with a certain strategy and aim for a certain user experience, and they change it,” [via guardian]
I think this quote nicely described what happened to the two sites. You have a community aimed towards one market then switches to another market which then alienates the original core base.
Bebo Users Need to Face the Reality
Dear Bebo Public:
You have to realize that the way to save Bebo is to find a company who is willing to buy it. If AOL feels they are suffering a loss over the purchase of Bebo, the possible reasons to this could be due to mismanagement on their part and/or lack of revenue to cover the cost of hosting it. Realize that it’s not your fault for the demise of BEBO. It was an investment which AOL thought they could gain a profit from but in turn alienated both their own AOL members, as well as Bebo’s fan base. Realize that it can go either way. It may be cheaper for AOL to shut down Bebo rather than sell it to another company.
What can you do to save Bebo? Make your voice be heard!
There is no official text message petition statement from Vodafone. You are wasting your money. This is just Chain Mail.
Join ONE petition site to Save Bebo. It’s best to show a large number of signatures on one site rather than have 300 different petitions with 30 signatures each.
Submit BEBO related news story to sites like DIGG, Mashable, Reddit, StumbleUpon.
Convince those who have left the site to return.
Use correct spelling and grammar when submitting news and commenting.
When you submit articles or communicate in news related sites, you have to show that you are intelligent enough to care about Bebo. The community of such sites expect a level of maturity and typing poorly worded phrases with blatant misspellings of “qettinq” with “q” replacing “g” just makes the cause look even sillier.
This “Save Bebo” seems to be on the right track. You need to show the potential buyer that this site is worth the investment due to the amount of monthly unique visitors, it’s click-through rate for advertisements, and the level of activity and buzz the site generates. Proxies aren’t really a great idea to generate unique visitors since they tend to use the same IP address. Remember, if there is hardly any activity on the site, there’s no point for anyone to buy it.
Unfortunately it still means you will be subject to the greed of whichever company buys you. You will again have to go through another transition period as you did with AOL. During this time, it’s best to show the new buyers what you actually want in the website.
Ideally a company that specializes in the European markets markets (UK, Germany, Italy, and especially Ireland) is a sure fire way to keep the community as active before. For now all I can think of is a company like Vodafone to purchase the website. Though, even they are going through financial hardships.
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