Friends Reunited is ten years old

Where now for Britain's ailing social network?

TODO alt text

It is only ten years since Friends Reunited launched in Britain, helping millions of Brits join up with old school friends.

It was one of the first online social networks to really capture the public's imagination in the UK, years before MySpace (and, later still, Facebook) stole its thunder.

Husband and wife team

The site was the brainchild of husband and wife team Steve and Julie Pankhurst. At the height of its popularity it had over 20 million registered users.

The site was bought by ITV in 2005 for £175m and sold to DC Thomson subsidiary Brightsolid earlier this year for a mere £25m.

It now attracts around 1.3m unique visitors a month.

Ian Maude, head of internet at Enders Analysis, cites the fact that ITV didn't take the site's paywall down quicker was a key reason for its demise, as users began to switch to MySpace and Facebook in droves.

Brightsolid also purchased Friends Reunited Dating and Genes Reunited. Users pay up to £64.95 a year for the Genes Reunited platinum package.

Strong connections with real friends

Brightsolid's Chief Exec, Chris van der Kuyl, is still adamant that Friends Reunited's business plan is set to be based around the concept of "stronger connections with real friends", as opposed to the "hundreds of 'friends' people have on sites like Facebook" making the site stickier.

"Right now a lot people just click on quickly for a brief snoop to see if anyone's personal details have changed," adds the Friends Reunited man.

"We know for our advertising model to work and to get people more engaged, we have to introduce quirky features, such as social games, which keep people's attention for longer and stop the site being so voyeuristic."

Via The Telegraph