The BBC covered AOL’s announcement that it’s to sell or close Bebo – the once-leading social media site that’s recently been trending earthwards in full obeyance of the laws of gravity.
Bebo was “yet another of those social network things that grown-ups didn’t understand’. There was at the time an orthodoxy that Facebook was for young people, MySpace “did music” and that Bebo was for the younger, cooler people. Or something like that.
The demise of Bebo illustrates two things: firstly it’s not for external folk to determine what a network is “for” – that’s for the participants. Secondly, volume really counts. With network liquidity there are sufficient interactions, sufficient stimulus and there develops a ‘gravitational pull’.
This chart from Hitwise illustrates the decline:
While Bebo and MySpace have headed towards the deck, Facebook has climbed inexorably.
Facebook’s growth in usage has been mirrored by the growth in tools: fan pages, applications, increased integration, video hosting…
The dominance of Facebook gives retailers some relief – they can just concentrate their communication and interaction efforts on a single leader in the sector – but also increases the imperative to “do something” on Facebook. No retailer can afford to pass by so many customers milling around in such digital proximity – especially given the sneaky feeling that they might be talking about us behind our backs!
So although we mourn the dimming of Bebo’s star, we should be galvanised into stronger and more effective action in our engagement with social media via Facebook, YouTube and the other shooting star of the moment, Twitter.