This summer I worked as an intern at AOL. One of the biggest hypes of the summer was the launch of AIM Pagesâ€œ AOL’s version of a social network. The thought was good, the result was not.
These are my thoughts on what AOL needs to do to rejuvenate its online social community:
The initial idea makes sense: build community around AOL’s best valueâ€œ AIM. ? AIM Pages is fairly cool with all its customization and Ajax, but social networking isn’t about tricking out your network with every option in existence it’s about community and value. If AIM Pages had launched at the same time as Myspace,? AOL would be? the clear winner but it’s not.
What AOL seems to have forgotten is ’integration.’ For example, I’m on instant messenger right now (AIM Pro 1.3). I right-click on a friend and I see their status and away message, but nothing about an AIM page. In fact, as a daily AIM user, I have never once received any notification/marketing or otherwise, suggesting I create an AIM page. If someone has an AIM page, I would not know how to view it. Within the network, traveling from one profile to another feels like I’m visiting completely new websites personally, I don’t like it. Also looking at the AIM Pages Blog, 4 of 7 new entries are about network bugs not exactly inspiring.
Even if it was perfectly intuitive and easy for an AIM user to create an AIM Page profile, I’m doubtful a sustainable community would develop. Every AIM Pages’ user already has a Myspace profile (Myspace being superior) and most people already set their away messages to link to their profiles or blogs completely bypassing the need for an AIM Page altogether.
Meanwhile, AOL has a thriving community at TMZ.com. Just look at any recent entry and note the number of responses to each new addition. People love their celebrity gossip and who can blame them? With Brittany and Paris hanging out (literally) the paparazzi must be on cloud9.
So why doesn’t AOL build a social network around TMZ? Duh! Seems like a no-brainer. As for community and instant messaging AOL should be building killer widgets for blogs and websites, featuring the AIM functionality. Instead, start-ups like Meebome are beating them to the punch.
Come on guys you’re better than that!