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Social Features Beef Up Bebo — and AOL — Value Add

The better Bebo

This morning AOL launched a revamped version of social network Bebo, replete with social features that suggest relevant content and track the activities of "friends."

Heavy Bebo users will now be served recommended content, based on past activity, stated interests and the interests and activities of friends. Recommendations can include videos, music, groups and games. AOL reportedly built its content recommendation engine from the ground up.

Capabilities from Socialthing — which AOL purchased in August — also join the Bebo suite. Socialthing tracks the activities of users, and people they're connected to, across a plethora of social media sites, including Twitter, digg, Flickr and Facebook. Unlike other social media aggregators, users need not log in at separate websites to respond to feeds they see. Socialthing incorporates all logins and enables responses directly from its — and now Bebo's — interface.

Finally, the social inbox serves as a unified destination for aggregated social feeds, email accounts from multiple sites, and content recommendations based on past activity.

Kara Swisher of All Things Digital has screenshots of the old versus new Bebo profile pages. She also stated AOL is "preparing a more radical series of announcements after the new year" related to Bebo.

AOL acquired Bebo, the top social networking site native to the UK, in March. Since then it has worked to assimilate Bebo's social capabilities into its existing offerings, and vice-versa.

In May, Bebo was infused with features from AIM, AOL's free instant messenger service. Bebo also operates on AOL search technology. And when AOL revamped its own homepage in October, it included access to Bebo, as well as to rival social networks MySpace, owned by News Corp., and Facebook, of which Microsoft owns a minor stake.

AOL has been a burden on parent company Time Warner since its internet-access business began to flag some years ago. The latter recently divided some of AOL's assets and contemplates selling the property altogether.


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