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Classmates Vs. Facebook – Classmates Fails

Classmates.com sent me a survey request so that I can let them know what I’m thinking.

I don’t have time to take a 20 minute survey with no compensation, so I’ll just put my thoughts here:

1. Facebook.com seems to do everything Classmates.com does — and more.

2. Facebook.com is free.

Classmates.com built a business around charging absurdly high prices for people to access information (and they ALSO loaded up their website with ads to the point of it being annoying and often unusable). Facebook built a business around keeping the access free (and their ads are much less obtrusive).

Yes — neither me nor any of my friends from high school had email back in 1984. But now every kid has it and they all already have Facebook, MySpace, etc. pages with contact with all of their friends. Kids must think it’s some nonsensical “old folks disease” that adults don’t know how to contact their friends from high school. So there’s no upcoming group of customers suckers to add to Classmates.com.

As more and more older people get web-saavy (even if it takes their kids teaching them how to do it), the more will move to platforms like Facebook that work better and cost less. And the more people using the platform, the more likely it is that you’ll find your friends there (which was the whole point of Classmates.com).

It’s funny — wanting me to take a 20 minute survey with no compensation is just a further extension of the Classmates.com ripoff model. You’d think they’d at least send me a Classmates T-shirt (which would be compensation AND advertising at the same time).

It’s fine (and makes sense) to charge premium prices — but you have to actually provide something that feels like premium service in order to keep your customers coming back. Otherwise you’re leaving a huge opportunity for someone to come in and undercut you while providing more value — and that’s tough to beat.

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