post at Piaras Kelly’s blog, I was struck by something — I never realised
quite how bizarre the situation with Bebo is.
If you check out the Google Trends ‘country’
tab, Ireland is
the only country listed — meaning that search volume for “bebo” is
infinitesimal, by comparison, elsewhere! (Update: Ireland was the
only country listed, because the URL used limited it to Ireland only. However,
the point is still valid when other countries are
included, too ;)
It is also destroying Myspace as a search term on the Irish internet. (Update: also fixed)
I’ll recycle a comment I made on Joe Drumgoole’s weblog as to why this happened:
My theory is that social networking systems, like Bebo, Myspace, linkedin, Friendster, Tribe.net, Orkut, Facebook etc. have all developed their own emergent specialisations. These are entirely driven by their users — although the sites can attempt to push or pull in certain directions (such as Friendster banning ‘non-person’ accounts), fundamentally the users will drive it. All of those sites have massively different user populations; Tribe has the Burning Man crowd, Friendster the daters, Orkut the brazilians etc.
Next, I think kids of school age form a set of small set of cliques. They don’t want to appear cool to friends thousands of miles away, on the internet; they want to appear cool to their peer group in their local school. So all it takes is a group of influential ‘tastemakers’ — the alpha males and females in a year — to go onto Bebo, and it becomes the site for a certain school; and given enough of that, it’ll spread to other schools, and soon Bebo becomes the SNS for the irish school system. In other words, Irish kids couldn’t really care less what US kids think of them; they want to be cool locally.
Also I think MySpace has a similar problem to Orkut — it’s already ‘owned’ by a population somewhere else, who are talking about stuff that makes little sense to Irish teenagers. As a result, it’s not being used as a social system here in Ireland; instead, it’s just used by musicians who want a cheap place to host a few tracks without having to set up their own website.
(Aside: part of the latter is driven by clueless local press coverage of the Arctic Monkeys — they have latched onto their success, put the cart before the horse, and decided that they were somehow ‘made’ by hosting music on MySpace, rather than by the attention of their fans. duh!)