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 79.

    Is this really a story worthy of a Comments section?

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    75. ggwillym

    Get a touchpad that runs flash

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Why not focus on uniting with new friends?

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    This is free publicity for the relaunch of a commercial website. And I thought the BBC weren't supposed to carry advertising ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Just benn to the 'new,improved' FR site and it is a mess. Cant run the videos on my ipad. Complete waste of time and money..

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.


    I suggest renaming the website, say to.....

    'Remind Yourself Why You Never Kept In Touch With The Bleeders In The First Place'

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    I signed up for FR when it first came online, and you HAD to get a membership of either a month or a year to even send a message! (£5+ or £15+ respectively) It was just another money making site at the end of the day, and that is why myself and others, left it to join Facebook. I'd never go back to FR, why would I, when everyone I know is on FB? FB shot themselves in the foot by charging!

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Depending on how old you are, do you really want to see pics of old friends? Better to remember them as they were before the wrinkles took over and move on. A bit of nostagia maybe ok, but who wants to walk backwards into the future? The best day at school for many was probably the last day, and a fond farewell to all those you had to put up with for too long. Why further contact?

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Paying upfront like FR did doesn't work. Get the system integrated into your lives and the business can end up doing what they want to their customers in the future. Sound familiar?? Isn't any of you Facebook users worked out why that company is worth so much yet?

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Wake up and smell the coffee !!

    The clue is in the domain name - FRIENDS REUNITED.

    When it was launched all those years ago, we all rushed to it to 'reunite' with our 'friends' (get it ?).

    Now that we have 'reunited' - we don't need the site anymore....


  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    I wish them well. It is the only social networking site I use, being put off by the invasiveness of Facebook and the belligerence of much of the content of Twitter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Another Beeb-ad...

    AS everyone else on here seems to be advertising something I'd like to promote the free to enter social network facilitator called "visiting people's houses". You can get there by car, bus, bike or feet. Please phone first. I'll put the kettle on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Hmm - 2 things pop out:
    1. I think @Eastwood84 works for FR, no harm in trying to tell your side of the story but do own up;
    2. Great sense of irony that they now use FB login to allow people to sign-up.. doesn't bode well

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Why would you use Friends reunited (or others) for that matter when everyone is on FB, I don't like at all facebook but I can only really talk to someone if they're on the same service and for that reason I don't think FR will succeed

    I understand peoples objections with social media but as a student I can't afford to meet up with old friends who're all over the country so we talk online.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Nostalgia content is a good way forward for Friends Reunited but I have to say that they will be unable to match the quality and quantity of memories posted on the Francis Frith site.
    The concept of "not what it used to be..." and "I remember when.." appeals to our British nostalgia culture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    That's what the world needs right now . . another social networking site . enabling infidelity, envy and high blood pressure up and down the land.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    They were perfectly placed to be a major player in social networking but were greedy and charged people for using the site. When Facebook and Myspace came along offering a free alternative of course people used those instead. The revenue was always going to come from advertising, not subscriptions. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory & now it's too late. Give it up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Beat The Clock

    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.

    Facebooks membership peaked 2 years ago so anyone investing may go like friends reunited

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    You can't really blame Friends Reunited. They just didn't think that humans would be that stupid and easy to minipulate. Humans are so utterly dependent on a database for their entertainment & so willing to show all their feelings to anybody. It's tentacles are wrapped so tightly around the neck of people! Social media is just the adult version of the baby in the cot with a hanging toy above it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Facebook, Friends Reunited are all so boring. The people who use them are even more sadder than people like me who post to this forum ;-)


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