Friends Reunited relaunches site with 'nostalgia' focus

Friends Reunited homepage The new Friends Reunited site offers professional archive content alongside users' own material

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Early social networking pioneer Friends Reunited has been relaunched.

The UK-based network, which began in 2000, now invites users to sign up for its new "memories"-based service.

The original site was bought by ITV for £175m in 2005, only to be sold for £25.6m four years later to online publishing group Brightsolid.

Social media experts told the BBC the site's future prospects rely on it being able to offer "something new" to tempt users back to the site.

At its peak, Friends Reunited had over 15 million members who used the site to reconnect with old school friends.

It can confidently stake its place as being the first social network to take off in the UK.

However, as more technologically-advanced offerings emerged, such as MySpace and then Facebook, the site struggled to hold on to its user base.

Start Quote

Friends Reunited doesn't seem to be offering anything new”

End Quote Lee Bryant Social media business consultant
'Blast from your past'

The site's owner, Brightsolid, believes a host of professional archive content coupled with users' own material will help make Friends Reunited the choice of social network for people keen to partake in online nostalgia.

"We wouldn't do this if we thought it was just another also-ran," Brightsolid chief executive Chris van der Kuyl told the BBC.

"It's about every blast from your past - every kind of great memory you have."

The site has teamed up with the Press Association and the British Library to allow users to attach old material - including newspaper clippings - to their own "memory box".

These boxes can be shared on various other networks online - including Facebook, where users can add a Friends Reunited app to their profile.

The service is currently free to use - although Mr Kuyl said revenue-generating options were being considered further down the line, including inviting brands to offer their own nostalgic material, such as old cars, to be added to users' memories.

'Nothing new'

Friends Reunited's team believe they have identified a gap, highlighted by the recent whirlwind success of image sharing site Pinterest, in which people like to curate material that means something to them.

Friends Reunited screenshot Income for the site will be provided by advertising, with other income streams likely in the future

However, social media business consultant Lee Bryant told the BBC he had little doubt as to whether the site could return to mass popularity.

"It's 'no', basically. It's hard to know what else to say. Everyone has so much invested in Facebook. Friends Reunited doesn't seem to be offering anything new," he said.

"[Scrapbooking online] is a good concept, and its time has come - but Tumblr, Pinterest - they're all doing this already.

"Facebook will pick related business models and just absorb them when the time is right."

Yet Drew Benvie, who worked as a PR consultant for Friends Reunited in 2008, said he thought there was still room for the site to attract otherwise hesitant social networkers.

"I'm quite excited to see it come back," Mr Benvie, who is now UK managing director of public relations firm Hotwire, told the BBC.

"I can see a lot of opportunity here for the slightly older social media users of today - those who aren't digital natives.

"I think what Friends Reunited could do is fill a bit of a gap for the average internet user who isn't being served by Facebook."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Maybe I'll sign up - Macca in form 5c still owes me 5p.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    When Friends Reunited was sold for £175m I thought 'Whaaaat!'. Ludicrous. Stupid business. There is a lesson here for Facebook and other 'social network' sites. None of you are actually needed to sustain life, people get bored with sites and ultimately all will fade from fashion and use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I haven't used Friends Reunited to update anything for years but keep getting emails into my inbox every week telling me "Friends" have updated or add information or photos when it turns out it may just be someone from the same school or workplace from an entirely different year or part of the country. They are just desperate for you to login to make their numbers look good for advertisers

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    The name is wrong it is history and unlikely to flourish. I am reunitied with all of the friends i want to be; why would I go back to it? I want to talk to current friends no need to reunite me with them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I've always tried to forget all those people from school - but keep touch with dispersered friends by email or FB.

    If you are trying to find the odd old school friend just try a search, and never risk letting those you didn't like contact you

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I quite like Friends reunited, and always did. Good luck for the future, I say, though I am rather amused by the reference to "slightly older social media users of today - those who aren't digital natives." I should like to point out that I am definitely an older user, but started using computers in 1973. Not every oldie is IT illiterate. There may be a market there, as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    As long as they don't get greedy, a social networking site that is funded purely by subscriptions might actually be just the antidote to the mess of gaudy advertisements out there.

    Or it could all go horribly wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    There's more to life than work "9.catscanker " - However if a picture of 'Sport' is what they've decided upon for their front page then that's gonna put a lot of people off their breakfast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    It's all just a pointless waste of time .. Get back to work !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Good luck to them but I doubt that it'll work, Friends Reunited's time has passed. An another poster said, most of the people on there were people that I didn't like when I was at school, so why on earth would I want to contact them now? The fact that you had to pay to contact anyone on there killed off any interest it held it for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    That picture at the head of your article will kill it stone dead in Scotland. ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    This site seems to have little value, most of my old friends from schoold, work and old neighbourhoods have put their details in, but no-one stays in touch as the sites requires payment if you want contact anyone. Unlike Facebook which is free and relies on advertising not dipping it's hands in to the pockets of it's members.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Theres a good reason I have lost touch with people from my past. I didn't like them or they didn't like me enough to stay in contact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    What is Facebook please?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    why? why? why? when is this constant stream of pointless activity going to stop? how can this possibly be an economically viable thing to do? 'ooh remember the rainbow theme?' 'yes wasn't there a rude episode?' Hasn't anyone got ANYTHING to do? We are Neros, in many cases quite literally, fiddling whilst Rome is burning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    F.U. can work if they target the segment properly. The problem with FB and Google Circles is that the "lists" still do not allow you to properly segment your past and retain full privacy. All my friends on FB are friends. All my friends on Friends Reunited are old school acquaintances who I am interested in saying hello to but would never friend on FB. There is definitely a market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The problem with Friends Reunited is I have seen more people there I didn't like than I did!


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