Despite recently dropping their annual charge, recent statistic from zdnet show that friend reunited still lost 45% of its market share in social networking, since jan 07. Once the dominant force in social networking, Friends reunited are now reported to be the fifth largest social network in the UK having a market share of just 1.55% in June 08. While the market for social networking is still growing it is now entirely dominated by facebook with a huge 45% of the market, all four of the other competitors have lost market share over the same period.
Friends reunited’s faq page stats “We have removed the single greatest barrier to increased communication between our members.” Stating as many as 87 per cent of messages on the old Friends Reunited were never sent because of the cost of membership and that was a great shame, so they have dropped the fee to encourage greater interaction between members but still with the same level of privacy that they enjoyed before. Unlike other social networks, where users are able to share their contact details, friends reunited say they will still never reveal you personal email address.
But is this too little too late? A major factor in social networking is being on the same social network as your friends and having enough content to keep it interesting. Facebook have always been the masters of this, they have been allowing developers to create a wide variety of applications for a long time and the variety and quality of applications already available is fantastic. Facebook have recently adopted a new look, which has generated a lot of extra work for developers which they have been criticized over but they are continually evolving and staying on top of their game. Recently they have introduced facebook connect in a bid to retain the all important data at the centre of their social networking empire.
Although Friends reunited have 19 million signed up members they have a lot of catching up to do if they want to survive, but are they capable of making the change and will they need to shift away from their roots in reuniting old school friends or will that remove their core benefit