Bebo represents AOL’s hope to have a successful social network, just like the other big guys. Truth be told, Bebo is quite a large player. It has 40 million users and may call itself no.1 in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. In the US is has a respectable third place behind MySpace and Facebook.
But still, the service isn’t big in the rest of the Western web. No top positions in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Holland. Therefor, Bebo has hired former Google industry marketing head Nicole Vanderbilt to fulfill the new role of international VP.
According to the Guardian, Vanderbilt has to conquer exactly these countries I mentioned before. Not an easy task, as the European social network market seems to be pretty filled out. It’s basically divided in three parts:
- National giants: StudiVZ (12.2 million users in Germany) and Hyves (5 million users in Holland)
- Networks that spread out over several countries: Bahu (popular in Mediterranean region) and Netlog (35 million users in June)
- Facebook and Myspace: the higher educated folks who’ve worked or traveled abroad join Facebook, the creative people Myspace. Most Europeans use these networks on the side.
It will be a tough challenge for Vanderbilt to find a place in this market. How will she be able to convince us Europeans to join ANOTHER social network? Focusing on a niche or certain target group, hoping the Bebo virus will catch on or rolling out a massive ad campaign seem to be the only two ways. Good luck.