Social media has been in need of an overhaul for some time now, but we never really considered what that meant. Until now. With AOL considering the sale of its once-treasured Bebo network and Digg having a CEO shake-up with big changes on the way, this year is bringing another round of major shifts in the way social networks are marketed and monetized.
AOL, which acquired Bebo about two years ago for a hefty $850 million, may be having second thoughts. Having since split from Time Warner and undergone a re-branding phase, AOL is still in the process of figuring things out. One thing the company may not have figured on was the sharp decline in social networking interest around UK-based site. Traffic to Bebo has fallen nearly 50% in the past year, reflecting the evolution of social media overall.
Digg is in a similar boat, facing changing trends in how people share and express their opinions around the recommendation of content. With founder Kevin Rose taking the place of CEO, there are several updates we can expect to see on the social bookmarking site. For one, Rose announced the removal of the Digg bar, with other changes to make the community more cohesive throughout the site.
But these are the things sites like Digg, Bebo and others have been working on for some time now. Once the recession hit we saw a slew of fast-thinking executives make over-arching modifications across several social media sharing and networking sites. hi5 took to virtual gaming, Facebook incorporated more virtual gifting, and MySpace decided to return to its roots. While Bebo and Digg both looked to make their sites more appealing to users through similar tactics, the newer, shinier sites like Facebook and Twitter won out.
Facebook managed to make itself a central hub for people’s daily activity, be it social, news or gaming. Twitter locked into people’s desire for an everlasting soap box with mobile access and celebrity gossip that came straight from the horse’s mouth. The efforts now being put forth by the faltering social networking sites further reflects how much social media has changed in just the last twelve months.
It seems as though many trends have changed, some for the better, others for worse. While online advertising is finding a stabilizing point, it continues to seek out better ways in which to reach consumers. Social media users themselves are finding better and more efficient ways in which to achieve their own needs for recommending and sharing content, simplifying things by just going straight to Facebook.
So where does this leave things for Bebo and Digg? In the midst of an ongoing revolution, where mobile devices and networking platforms remove the need for separate social sites, and the very act of social networking can be integrated into personal databases such as address books and bank accounts. Gone are the days of social networking sites–we’ve moved into the era of the social media experience, and that’s far less delineated than the individual sites we witnessed during the web 2.0 movement. Perhaps it really is time to move on.