As the credit crunch continues to bite and more retailers and companies go the wall it seems the same may be happening to one of the original social networks.

Friends Reunited once described by Michael Grade as ‘the Sweet Spot of the internet’ is reportedly being re-valued by ITV which bought it for a huge £120m in 2005, as ITV feels it may have paid too much.

To be honest the real problem here is that ITV bought it at the wrong time and Friends Reunited has since been outshone by competitors like MySpace and more recently Facebook.

Many people (me included) just felt the site was too clunky and far too commercially lead with advertising everywhere. Many bloggers even referred to it as Facebook for pensioners. Now that may be a tad harsh but the service did seem to get left behind rather quickly.

Friends Reunited started something exciting in social networking but unfortunately it failed to finish it by not capitalising on its head start in that arena.

In an attempt to fight back in October 2007 it dropped its subscriptions based model (£7.50 per month) as it wasn’t working either and competitors were offering better services for free.

So the question begs does this spell the end of social networks? In a word NO – I don’t think so but it does demonstrate that users can get bored quickly with a service if it doesn’t continue to re-invent itself and provide new useful services. The key to staying popular, and not becoming an online Woolworths, is providing a useful service and creating new interesting services – otherwise Facebook and Bebo might be looking over their collective shoulder’s soon too.

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.