Is there a future for Sareunited.com?
One thing struck me as I browsed through my list of friends the other day. A few years ago I joined Sareunited. There slogan : "Connecting South Africans Everywhere." It was a great idea, allowing you to find and interact with your old schoolmates. It has been a great success story and, it must be said, almost an essential service considering how South Africans have spread their wings and found themselves living all over the world.
Now as Facebook sweeps across South Africa as it has done else where across the world, I have found those same people that were listed in Sareunited on Facebook. The difference being, you now have an profile to look at and you are able to interact easily.
The problem with starting a conversation with someone you haven't seen in 5, 10, 20 years via email, is how do you start? How much of yourself do you reveal when you write that first, 'this is me?' Now with Facebook that is all taken care of in the first 'Add XYZ as friend.' The act of requesting and confirming is like that first 'Hi,' handshake, or whatever greeting gesture takes you fancy. Now you are able to see what your friend has been up to and is currently doing. Without having to send mails back and forth, you are able to keep up to date with their movements, and it's unobtrusive.
I went back for a browse @ Sareunited and, it must be said it suddenly feels rather archaic ... web 1.0-ish. It's rather sad, and I sincerely hope they find a way of reinventing the site. In my case there are still more contacts in my Sareunited account then in my Facebook profile, but then two things must be remembered. I haven't been active in Facebook for 2 months yet, and there is no telling how many of those contacts in Sareunited actually have details that are updated. It will be a shame if a great South African product becomes defunct. There is a massive database, active or not, of South Africans who invested their time inputting their details @ Sareunited and I can't help but think that this resource is not being utilised creatively creatively.
To close I must state that I did send Sareunited a request for comment on how they intend meeting this competition, but to date have not had a response. Let's hope that's because they are burning the midnight oil as they work on exciting new features.