Remember the good old days of social networking? Those late nights staying up on MSN Messenger (which died just this last year)? that irritating knocking hand on your computer, nudges and including your best friends in your name (it may sound sad to those who aren’t familiar with it but I can assure you it was important back then for some reason). When Bebo arrived Social Networking became an actual thing (though it was never really called social networking back then), there were profiles, there was image sharing, there was micro-blogging and there was even sharing the love – an archaic way of liking a friend’s profile in order to make them feel good about themselves – it was the last great network before Facebook came along and swept everything else off the map.
But, like the rise of the Phoenix, Bebo has returned from the dustbin of history as a new player in the Social Media arena. It may be easy to write it off as another attempt to make something long gone a quick burst of income but this time the splash may actually cause ripples. Why? Because it is the first social media network to approach the idea with a bit of fun. Taking it back to the good ole days of MSN Messenger, Bebo has reimagined the way we message each other on our phones (and tablets to a lesser extent) by introducing some familiar elements… but in original ways.
The idea behind the messaging service (it is tackling Facebook Messenger, not Facebook itself) is that you can create yourself an Avatar (stay with me) and use hashtags (wait, really stay with me) in order to make your avatar interact directly with your friend’s avatar. So for example if you were to send #Slap to your friend who has decided he isn’t coming out after all you’d see a picture of your avatar slapping him. Or #kiss if they’re on their way…
It could easily end up being the app to replace WhatsApp. It has the familiar brand name many of us already relate to, it has the injection of good fun messaging needs and it has pulled it off with remarkable style for the network considered as primarily aimed at younger users (which – to be fair – is probably where this kind of app has the best chance of succeeding). It is also worth noting that it is damned easy to set up. Simply register (bebo.com), add your mobile number (which should stop there being too many spam accounts), create your avatar and get going. I’m already having fun with it and I’ve had it just five minutes.
True, the idea itself is a novelty which could quickly wear off and the functionality may not be as interesting as it first seems; I’ve tried many different hashtags and found plenty of words which do work and plenty which do nothing at all. But the point is, this is an imaginative and fun new way of approaching an old topic. Is it the next big thing? It’s hard to tell. But one thing is for certain, Bebo hasn’t died just yet.