New Look and Features for Bebo
AOL has launched an updated design for its social networking site Bebo. This update comes jam packed with new features, including new techniques for marketers trying to reach specific audiences.
Bebo users now have access to aggregated social feeds from multiple websites including: digg, AIM, YouTube, gmail, Twitter, Flickr, and more. This is thanks to the incorporation of Socialthing, which is an application that AOL purchased back in August, which tracks your friends across multiple websites.
AOL’s update of Bebo comes with the need to increase its user base and compete with popular social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. AOL also updated its advertising to target users with specific ads based on that person’s history of activity. The advertising is covered by using the same user-history targeting to recommend content to the users. AOL says that they have built their recommendation software from the ground up. The hope is that the new design and marketing techniques will boost AOL’s revenue before Time Warner, AOL’s parent company, decides to give AOL the boot.
Bebo is one of the larger social networking sites, but it has not become popular in America and falls behind the larger social networking companies. AOL is hoping that by focusing on Bebo’s powerful media capabilities, they will be able to set Bebo apart from the other social networking sites and attract an audience that finds these specialties appealing. The following is more specific info from the AOL press release.
Social feed aggregation: Based on technology from newly acquired SocialThing, Bebo’s feed aggregation area enables quick and easy access to photo uploads, status updates and multiple online activities from key social networking destinations such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, AIM and Del.icio.us on top of Bebo’s existing social feeds. Bebo’s Social Inbox allows social feeds to be organized in chronological order and grouped by person. A localized RSS feed reader also delivers the latest news and updates from around the globe including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and the Netherlands.
E-mail aggregation: The Social Inbox gives consumers one-click access to the most popular e-mail services, including AOL and AIM Mail, Yahoo! Mail and Gmail. Users will be able to preview their e-mail from multiple accounts without having to go from site to site.
Media Favorites: A new recommendations engine built on the foundations of Bebo’s Open Media Platform delivers the most relevant online entertainment (including video, music, groups and games) into one place. Media Favorites are based on users’ stated preferences and aggregated data such as: what their friends are watching and listening to and what people like them like, subject to appropriate privacy settings. This feed pulls in current Bebo content and group subscriptions, making it easy to get a quick snapshot of all personalized content. Bebo already boasts one of the most extensive online media offerings available, with programming from over 500 media companies including MTV, ESPN, CBS and the BBC.
Many of these features are unique to the new Bebo and may be able to attract a new crowd. The depth of the additions made is astonishing, but is it too much? Choices and extra features are great, but it is possible to overwhelm your users as well. People have complained about the enormous amount of applications bombarding you on Facebook, and we all know of the comparison between the simplistic growth of the Google homepage versus the complex and messy growth of the Yahoo homepage.
AOL’s redesign is in attempt to gain more users by establishing a unique social networking atmosphere, and garnering more revenue with its user history targeted advertising software. Is this a successful move? Does the new Bebo interest you? Let me know.