Eish!!: Is there a future for Sareunited.com?

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Is there a future for Sareunited.com?

I have mentioned in previous posts how I have been drawn into the Facebook subculture. It's been an ironic seduction, especially as it had it's genesis when I was messing around to research for the article : Facebook, am I missing something!

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.

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strange i was thinking about this the other day. The problem with sareunited is their business model. most people (me included) do not fee compelled to pay. Facebook on the other hand is free and growing rapidly as they literally give it away.

SAR needs to find a new revenue stream as well as work on their stickiness (there's nothing worth going back for, whereas I go to Facebook about 4 times a day)

That being said, i don't hold out much hop for SAR recovering from this!

They are going to do some serious hopping if they want any hope ;-)

sareunited.com and yesnomayb.com will have to adopt the free model if they expect to get and retain users.

Same goes for LinkedIn.com

None of these sites will grow their userbase any further unless they stop asking their users to pay to do certain things (usually contacting someone else).

Even WordPress.com makes the mistake of trying to charge people for certain extras.

FaceBook.com charges people to send silly little graphics as gifts to others, but that is such an unnecessary triviality that it does not matter.

Hi
This is Amanda, co-founder of SAReunited . I love it that everyone is talking about us.. and I love what facebook has done... its a very exciting space to be in. Yes SAReunited is in need of a revamp but these are issues we are addressing before facebook even hit the streets in South Africa. Competition is good, but SAReunited will be in a slightly different space to facebook - but if we told you what that is we might have to kill you.
The thing is that a new site take months to build, and of course you need to have a good business model.
And I am pleased to say that SAReunited will in the coming months be totally relaunched - and contact will be free! Lucky us, we have had time to learn from facebook, linkedin, myspace, bebo etc etc. We understand what our market needs - we have half a million members - and now its time to give them the product they all want and need as South Africans.
And to Eishman, you are right - the reason we are quiet is because SAReunited team are working harder than ever - and to remind you the very same team launched yesnomayB (which was voted top 20 UK web2.0 start up and the "apple of dating" and has a new membership base doubling every month!). Now its time for yesnomayB to move aside and SAReunited is getting the make over of its life.. watch this space..not long to go. Trust us, there will be alot to come back for.

Amanda
Co-Founder
SAReunited and yesnomayB

Amanda, while I admire your enthusiasm re: a new sareunited launch I remain unconvinced the site can really achieve high goals of success. Frankly, I think history will judge this as a case of "too little too late", and I think you're thinking a little "too local" in the way you perceive the direction socialized networking to be going. Differentiating sareunited from facebook is the only logical step you can take and I understand why you're doing it. But unfortunately, facebook does and has done what sareunited should have been doing for a long time and sareunited has been too slow to react.

Furthermore, sareunited.com should have re-invented itself adopting the following principles:

1. The fee-based business model was doomed from the start - it makes people feel, if nothing else, rebellious to join. The Internet will always offer for free what some think they can charge for. And very often the free product turns out better.

2. People generally would prefer to log into ONE website in order to access all their friends than two. Since sareunited's launch is already late for the party, I don't see people going back to sareunited after having established themselves on facebook even if you PAID them too. There may be initial fanfare about any re-launched sareunited site, but I think most people will be communicating with each other on sareunited saying one thing: "Hey, come see my facebook profile"

3. sareunited had a very controlling attitude which many of it's users don't like. Having every photo viewed and requiring sareunited "approval" (taking at least 24 hours a photo) is invasive, SLOW (not in spirit of what Internet activities should be) and almost rude. Furthermore, users who mentioned say the fact they have a website outside sareunited are banned from doing so, often receiving a message telling them so in a way that treats them like a child.

4. Frankly, even if sareunited re-launched with EVERY feature facebook has tomorrow, it would still be only in a game of catch up. Facebook isn't standing still and in months to come it too will offer so much more than today. Friends are INTERNATIONAL, not local. That's true whether you are in SA looking for friends who left, or you left SA and you are looking for friends who remained there. People have friends, past and present, all over the world. It takes a truly world-wide platform to satisfy these characteristics. Facebook is there today. Sareunited may catch up tomorrow, but it won't be easy convincing people to "come back" when they're already getting so much more elsewhere.

I'm sorry, but I don't see sareunited successfully moving forward, unless it really does start to think RADICALLY different than it has in the past, much like Apple Inc. has done. But like Apple's situation, even then you'll always be a niche. And the world of social networking has no room for niche markets. It's the free, biggest and most dynamic platform that wins here.

While I do agree for the most part with the fact that free is better in terms of dating in most cases, I do have to disagree with the statement of JC that there is no place for a pay service nor for a niche market. They may not have such a HUGE market, but they will have a market nevertheless :-)

People work hard to make a decent site. Ads simply nowadays don't give enough revenue. People don't click them enough - I have experience with that myself. Now - I don't claim that I am an expert in online advertising - maybe I am doing this all wrong - but I have made a measely 29.77 or something with TARGETED ads using Google. So - in my case, simply not worth the effort.

I have no idea what is in it for FaceBook (and the likes) to give their services for free. I mean, I have read about FaceBook's Beacon Advertising program that is a topic of hot discussion nowadays, but I am not sure how that generates enough income for them. I also have no idea how Google remains at the top of companies people want to work for, remain profitable, and all that. I guess it has to do with business strategy that they won't publish - which is fine. And I am glad that it works, because I'd be lost without my favourite search engine and IM, GoogleTalk. Not even to mention Google Earth...

Many of you overhere are probably Open Source/Free Software fanatics as well. While I admire Open Source, and even write some Open Source programs/web content now and then, I will never fully adopt it, for the simple reason that I have been burned way too often with using an Open Source program that was created by the author to "scratch an itch" and once it (the program under development) does the absolute minimum what he required it to do, development stopped. It therefore never improves. Money is that incentive to make the author improve it. A simple example: NVU simply does not measure up to Dreamweaver or (dare I say it, even FrontPage)... Maybe NVU will improve, but I have been using NVU version 1.0 for a long time, and I haven't seen any new releases of NVU coming out for almost 3 years, except for some /unofficial/ bugfix release that I don't feel like trying, because I am happy with using Dreamweaver that I paid for :-)

I have noticed in many instances that a free service is often an inferior service. You get what you pay for. It is usually only the exceptions of true dedicated people who can really make a difference in this perception - and for that, FaceBook deserve credit. Lots of it. But - I also have no problem to pay for something that I know will give me much more satisfaction than a free service. Another example: The MMORPG Archlord. Free. Great to play. No online gaming fees. Maybe if you buy gold and chantras then it will start costing money, but you don't need to buy gold and chantras to play. On the other hand, World of Warcraft. Game is not free. Online play is not free. Also great to play. But... Servers are less laggy, patches come out quicker, there simply are no bugs in WoW that I encounter, while in Archlord I encounter MANY. Most people don't care about the few bugs, because, "hey, it's free!", but I do... :-)

Back to the topic... My greatest problem with paying for a social networking site is that they charge you X amount per month for unlimited messaging. If you are a person (...) who want to message everything in a skirt, then you will benefit from this approach to a business model. Then you get people like me who message selectively. To pay a month's fee for meeting one QUALITY new person a month simply is not cutting it for me - why not bring in a pay-per-message fee or something in ADDITION to their current business model? Amanda from SAReunited, if you're reading this - please keep that in mind (as well as for yesnomaybe.co.za)

In closing - I want to defy my statements above to STRESS AS A FACT that there are DEFINATELY VERY decent Open Source and Free Software products and services (such as Google and FaceBook), and I have a few of them that I will always use, but in general, I would rather fork out $29.00 for a shareware program than pay $0.00 for a Free Software package.

Regards,

Kobus

@ JC : Let's hope Amanda and her team prove you wrong, let's face it, it will be sad to see the back of SAReunited.
@ Kobus : Great comments, hopefully your suggestion gets some serious consideration.

I see sareunited.com's homepage is already promoting the up-coming new site, so I guess time will tell.

@ Kobus: I'm not sure what your overall point is. One the one hand you praise facebook for doing such a good job without charging anything to the end user, then you discuss freeware vs shareware, which is an entirely different playing field. You conclude by saying "there are DEFINATELY VERY decent Open Source and Free Software products and services (such as Google and Facebook), and [you] have a few of them that [you] will always use" and then claim you'd rather pay for shareware than use freeware. Huh? Hello?

The mantram as you quoted "You get what you pay for" isn't always true in cyberspace because here on the internet there are true alternative ways to generate revenue without charging the end user. The fact the Amanda (in her above entry) clearly states sareunited 2.0 will be free to use with no membership fee required supports this. Amanda thinks she can offer a better service free of charge to members than the previous site where fees were charged. This shows to an extent that Amanda, like me, is clearly concerned that charging people puts people off joining sareunited and in the long term the strategy is doomed. It doesn't mean sareunited should suffer in quality just because it's free. That will depend on the site's developers.

Your argument that you'd rather pay for a commodity like social networking instead of using such sites for free is clearly a minorty view. The fact the youtube, google, gmail myspace and facebook etc. are worldwide success stores clearly illustrate this. They're all free to use - and they all offer more than satisfactory standards of service to a massive worldwide user base, using alternative revenue sources that clearly give each site a massive market value and online presence.

Having said that, I still think sareunited 2.0 is a case of too little too late. The majority of its near-700,000 members have only exploited the "free part" of its service - that is the ability to list personal details on the sareunited database. But how often do they return to the site to check for updates? Very rarely and for many, not at all. This is simply due to the fact that everybody else they know hardly returns either because sareunited has only offered a static experience of allowing people to list themselves on the database, while barring them from communicating with each other without paying to do so. I cannot see those people (who are now most likely on facebook) coming back to sareunited and using the site regularly for social online interaction, when facebook already provides a great service which is most likely being accessed as often as at least once a day.

This is a fascinating discussion about Facebook vs SAReunited or the other way around. It's now 2010 and Facebook has bulldozed every other social network. What does the future hold? In my opinion SAReunited.com can make a difference if it goes back to membership with a ton of real-world value added in e.g. Edgars Club or some other membership scheme. I would be happy to get more movie discounts or eBucks.com or maybe even Voyager miles for my time spent on SAReunited.


تعد خدمات الاول في المدينة المنورة من افضل الخدمات في مجال التنظيف ومكافحة الحشرات لانها تتميز بجودة المنظفات المستخدمة وامهر عماله تعمل على انهاء مهامها على اكمل وجه وبنظافه ترضى العميل بالاضافة الى خدمة مكافحة الحشرات ورش المبيدات المتميزة لدينا
تخزين اثاث بالرياض
شركة غسيل شقق بالمدينة المنورة
شركة تنظيف كنب بالمدينة المنورة
افضل شركات تنظيف فلل بالمدينة المنورة

احسن شركة نقل اثاث بالمدينة المنورة
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالمدينة المنورة
شركة مكافحة الحشرات بالمدينة المنورة
افضل شركة تنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة
افضل شركة غسيل خزانات بالرياض
شركة تنظيف مكيفات بالرياض

و افضل شركة تنظيف منازل بالطائف

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