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. 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
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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