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 39.

    @28 A fair point but surely this is the nature of progress. Telegrams came as a bit of a shock to the world of communications but telephone soon came along to replace them. We are always sceptical of new technology but it is what it is. The Ludite in me agrees with you but I think there is so much more than gut spilling and misery to be found on social networking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Relaunching a website does not seem to me to be a TECHNOLOGY story! It's more like free advertising, courtesy of the BBC!

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I, like many others, searched for old school friends that hadn't been seen or heard of for many years and I linked up with some of them 50 years later. I'm extremely grateful for 'Friends' for enabling me to re-ignite friendships but I understand that the nostalgia has faded a bit. I no longer look for long-lost mates on any social network sites. I'm happy just to exchange e-mails.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    It's et al. BTW
    I love Facebook, not interested in FU at all :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    The site is a mess. No simple home page to navigate from and then it just closed down. Oh dear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Too late, I fear. Airheads have moved on to other vehicles for splattering their inane thoughts at passing acquaintances who aren't in the least interested in anything except their own similarly inane thoughts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Sorry, but there's no more room for another social networking website. Why can't people understand that? The might of Google tried and failed with Google+ and because of Facebook, there's no real need for anyone to switch. Plus, i've seen all my old friends on FB and avoid adding them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Wow, this is really a top technology story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Friends Reunited should be used as an example in business studies course on how to wreck a bushiness. ITV had a successful product which was ahead of Facebook at the time. They hand't got a clue how to live with new technology.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    I just tried to have a look as urged to by Eastwood84. The site was down for maintenance. Not the best idea for a relaunch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    R.I.P. Friends Reunited.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    If I need to speak to my friends I ring them, if I don't want to share my 'life memories' with them there is probably a good reason! I find it hilarious that many use these antisocial networks and then whine when it goes( frequently) pear shaped.
    The current trend for spilling ones guts with everyone, worldwide is pretty sad and does a lot more harm than good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    unless they have something revolutionary then they've missed the boat.

    They were one of the original social networks, then they mucked it up big style and lost the people who made it possible for their site to draw an income.

    I can't see them coming back, people have settled down with the social networks they are already on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Yawn, would somebody develop a product to block friends reunited, facebook, et, all.

    Productivity in the UK would increase without such distractions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Geeeez just get over yourselves.
    Nostalgia is not what it use to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Friends Reunited really started it all, but they need to accept that whilst they began a revolution, they're no longer part of it. Their biggest problem is doggedly retaining their brand, which most people will see as something which was bested by MySpace and Facebook and is of no value.

    If they want to keep in the business, good for them, but re-brand and try something new.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    I just cannot see the reason for these net works. If I wanted to keep in touch I made sure I had the information. Just why would normally sane people want to put all their personal data on a Web site for all the cranks in the World to see, and when they get raped or murdered it can be traced back to one of these Web sites. Total stupidity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I have now removed myself from all social network sites due to the extreme disregard to privacy.

    There is absolutely no need whatsoever to prostitute your private information all over the Internet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Personally, I think twitter is better than either Facebook, or FU. And who ever mentions that other one, MySPace, whatever happened to them ? Oh wait time passed !
    Will the BBC handle some serious news now please ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    I joined Friends Reunited when it first started, it was £5 per year and really great for meeting up with old friends.

    THEN it got sold and became absolute rubbish, each page was full of worthless links to dating and other sites. Webmasters take note - nothing annoys a person more then endless adverts and links on a website.

    I keep getting emails trying to get me interested but the site is dead.


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