Using Bebo for business: an introduction

 

Bebo is a social network for young people combined with a platform for video sharing and viewing (including channels as with YouTube), recommendations (music, authors), apps and other functions. Users create profiles either as individuals or as music bands, connecting with 'friends' and talking to each other and interacting with other parts of the site. Profiles have much more scope to be customised than the types of social media above, which gives it its standing as a platform for expression. Overall, it's about entertainment and expression.
Users: Up for debate, but thought to be between about 22 - 25 million unique users per month
Age and industry: 13 - 21. Industry in many cases yet to be decided!
Why would I want that?
Researching a teenage target audience
Publicising music bands aimed at a young audience
Publicising brands aimed at young people through video
Publicising books aimed at young people
If you fall roughly within the target age group, building your business's profile by interacting with other users
What's the catch?
Not really any scope for targetting other age groups.
Going to get on it? Here's some words of wisdom:
Because Bebo is a pretty niche market, you need to be careful how you use it, if you're going to use it at all. (Don't bother unless you're trying to target the teenage market.) Generally speaking, those older than 25 aren't really welcome unless they're famous. Besides which, if you are over-25, do you really want to be seen speaking to lots of teenagers in online forums? (See what we mean?)
But it can still be cannily used for research if your target market does happen to be the younger generation, since looking at various functions on the site tells you about teenage trends.
Check out the most popular 'skins' (see below) to get a grip on popular design among teenagers, looking at what kind of people are drawn to which designs (look at their personal info to see if their interests overlap with your target audience's - although bear in mind this will take some time to do thoroughly).
Similarly, browsing Apps according to the handy filters 'Most captivating', 'Most active', 'Freshest' and 'Top rated' can give you real insight into widespread trends in the marketplace. More niche trends and sub-cultures, however, will be more difficult to pinpoint - you should turn to specific websites and blogs to grasp these. The popularity of various 'Categories' in the left-hand column of the Apps homepage is also revealing. 'Entertainment' and 'Games' are the most popular, while 'Food & drink' and 'Travel' are lowest - telling you what you should be focusing your efforts and dialogue on to be getting through to this generation. Namely, that videos and interactivity work better than perhaps more sophisticated and mature interests.
Browsing through the most popular groups also gives you an idea of what's popular at the moment, although bear in mind you're looking at very general popularity rather than any specifics of the market.
At the risk of sounding a bit stalker-y, it might be an idea to search through profiles (using filters to narrow your search and keyword and interest searches) to identify a group of users who epitomise your target customer. Observe the way they communicate with each other - text speak, full words, tone of voice, sophistication of language - as well as their interests and preferred media.
The way language is used on Bebo is fascinating, and can really help you get closer to the best way to speak young people. Incorporating some of this insight into the way you phrase your communications to them might encourage them to listen. But don't go too far - there's nothing more patronising than a stale old company trying to advertise in text speak, so you should run anything by a trusted group of young people before spending thousands running a completely misinformed ad. Nevertheless, picking up on trends, interests, where they hang out and what music they like and so on can provide invaluable market research.
Of course, if you are under 25, you can just create a profile on Bebo to promote yourself and your business and start chatting away to people. Pitch the way you present yourself as in tune with audience you want to attract.
If you're publicising a product or brand on Bebo, use the various types of media available on there. Videos always works well, if you can make them cool enough. An agency should be able to help (see YouTube advice above). Advertising books on the site is fairly self-explanatory when you get there.
Key functions and how to use them
Skins: Background designs for profile pages - they're often bold, can be animated and are a big form of expression on the site. Users can pick from hundreds of ready-made skins when they create a profile. Some are branded - by Bebo or Bebo and Samsung, for example (they've recently done a mega-deal on music content for phones).
Apps: As described previously
help
Groups: As described previously
Band profile: A special type of profile for a musical artist or band. If you're trying to promote a band, reading up on a lot of more industry-specific literature is definitely your best next step.
Videos: The video section of Bebo is not dissimilar to YouTube's in the way it is organised and made searchable. However, videos here tend to be edgier, younger and cooler than the vast range on YouTube. There are of course lots of music videos, but also TV programmes such as Skins. Bebo also creates its own online TV programmes called b-box, which again is a useful insight into trends, as is the fact videos can be listed by popularity.
Authors: Interestingly, books feature large on the site, and this section features books, descriptions of them, reviews, a function to see what your friends are reading and so on.
Privacy
If you're an under-25-year-old creating a profile to publicise you and your business, leave ot open for all to see so you can get the attention of as many people as possible. As always, don't put up any info you want to keep private or you wouldn't want a potential investor seeing.

Bebo is a social network for young people combined with a platform for video sharing and viewing (including channels, as with YouTube), recommendations (music, authors), apps and other functions. If your business targets young people, it's well worth checking out, whether you're just researching your market or you decide to create a presence on there.

Read on to find out what will work for your business and how to make the most of Bebo.

How does Bebo work?

Users create profiles either as individuals or as music bands, connecting with 'friends' and talking to each other and interacting with other parts of the site. Profiles have much more scope to be customised than the types of social media above, which gives it its standing as a platform for expression. Overall, it's about entertainment and expression.

Who uses Bebo?

  • Users: Up for debate, but thought to be between about 22 - 25 million unique users per month
  • Age and industry: 13 - 21. Industry in many cases yet to be decided!

Why would I want that?

  • Researching a target audience that fall within the young demographic.
  • Reaching out to and interacting with that demographic.
  • Publicising music bands aimed at a young audience.
  • Publicising brands aimed at young people through video.
  • Publicising books aimed at young people.
  • If you fall roughly within the target age group, building your business's profile by interacting with other users.

What's the catch?

  • Not really any scope for targetting other age groups.
  • If you're going to create a presence on Bebo but you're not a young person yourself, you risk being a bit transparent and instantly seeming out the loop.

Going to get on it? Here are some words of wisdom:

  • Because Bebo is a pretty niche market, you need to be careful how you use it, if you're going to use it at all. (Don't bother unless you're trying to target the teenage/early twenties market.) Generally speaking, those older than 25 aren't really welcome unless they're famous. Besides which, if you are over-25, do you really want to be seen speaking to lots of teenagers in online forums? (See what we mean?)
  • But it can still be cannily used for research if your target market does happen to be the younger generation, since looking at various functions on the site tells you about teenage trends.
  • Check out the most popular 'skins' (see below) to get a grip on popular design among teenagers, looking at what kind of people are drawn to which designs (look at their personal info to see if their interests overlap with your target audience's - although bear in mind this will take some time to do thoroughly).
  • Similarly, browsing Apps according to the handy filters 'Most captivating', 'Most active', 'Freshest' and 'Top rated' can give you real insight into widespread trends in the marketplace. More niche trends and sub-cultures, however, will be more difficult to pinpoint - you should turn to specific websites and blogs to grasp these. The popularity of various 'Categories' in the left-hand column of the Apps homepage is also revealing. 'Entertainment' and 'Games' are the most popular, while 'Food & drink' and 'Travel' are lowest - telling you what you should be focusing your efforts and dialogue on to be getting through to this generation. Namely, that videos and interactivity work better than perhaps more sophisticated and mature interests.
  • Browsing through the most popular groups also gives you an idea of what's popular at the moment, although bear in mind you're looking at very general popularity rather than any specifics of the market.
  • At the risk of sounding a bit stalker-y, it might be an idea to search through profiles (using filters to narrow your search and keyword and interest searches) to identify a group of users who epitomise your target customer. Observe the way they communicate with each other - text speak, full words, tone of voice, sophistication of language - as well as their interests and preferred media.
  • The way language is used on Bebo is fascinating, and can really help you get closer to the best way to speak young people. Incorporating some of this insight into the way you phrase your communications to them might encourage them to listen. But don't go too far - there's nothing more patronising than a stale old company trying to advertise in text speak, so you should run anything by a trusted group of young people before spending thousands running a completely misinformed ad. Nevertheless, picking up on trends, interests, where they hang out and what music they like and so on can provide invaluable market research.
  • Of course, if you are under 25, you can just create a profile on Bebo to promote yourself and your business and start chatting away to people. Pitch the way you present yourself as in tune with audience you want to attract.
  • If you're publicising a product or brand on Bebo, use the various types of media available on there. Videos always works well, if you can make them cool enough. An agency should be able to help (see YouTube advice above). Advertising books on the site is fairly self-explanatory when you get there.

Key functions and how to use them

Skins: Background designs for profile pages - they're often bold, can be animated and are a big form of expression on the site. Users can pick from hundreds of ready-made skins when they create a profile. Some are branded - by Bebo or Bebo and Samsung, for example (they've recently done a mega-deal on music content for phones).

Apps: As described previously

Groups: As described previously

Band profile: A special type of profile for a musical artist or band. If you're trying to promote a band, reading up on a lot of more industry-specific literature is definitely your best next step.

Videos: The video section of Bebo is not dissimilar to YouTube's in the way it is organised and made searchable. However, videos here tend to be edgier, younger and cooler than the vast range on YouTube. There are of course lots of music videos, but also TV programmes such as Skins. Bebo also creates its own online TV programmes called b-box, which again is a useful insight into trends, as is the fact videos can be listed by popularity.

Authors: Interestingly, books feature large on the site, and this section features books, descriptions of them, reviews, a function to see what your friends are reading and so on.

Privacy

If you're an under-25-year-old creating a profile to publicise you and your business, leave it open for all to see so you can get the attention of as many people as possible. As always, don't put up any info you want to keep private or you wouldn't want a potential investor seeing.

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