Social Shootout: Facebook vs. Bebo

Facebook     Bebo

Facebook vs. Bebo… fight!

Yup, it’s true. I’ve joined the masses and signed up for some social networking goodness. Not content with just one network, I’ve joined two (coz my mates are on both), hence this post from a newbie taking a quick look at Facebook and Bebo.

The contenders spout off
Facebook – “Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.”
Bebo – “Bebo is the next generation social networking site where members can stay in touch with their College friends, connect with friends, share photos, discover new interests and just hang out.”

Bebo go on to say “Bebo (www.bebo.com) is the largest social networking site in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand, and the third largest behind MySpace and Facebook in the United States.” which I found interesting since I have no idea how big these sites are. Facebook doesn’t make any similar claims, but the New Zealand Facebook Network pushed over 40,000 members just today.

Click through for the rest of my comments and comparisons including screenshots…

Nuts and Bolts
If the above doesn’t help explain it, both sites basically give you a profile page where you list stuff about yourself including likes and dislikes etc. You can then add photos, post comments and in some cases import content from other places that you want to share. Then comes the social aspect. The key to these sites is to add or link to your friends, thus building a network of people interconnected via their profiles who can comment to each other and keep in touch with what their friends are up to.

Privacy
Facebook is a closed site in that to view somebody’s profile you have to be a member yourself. Even then that person can choose to only permit their listed friends to have access to their profile. With Bebo, you have the option of making your profile completely public or just for members/friends on the network as with Facebook.

Aesthetics
Facebook goes for a fixed blue/grey/white colour scheme with a simple layout including square and rectangular box elements. Bebo gives you a similarly simple default layout, but in red and white with a few rounded corners. Straight up Facebook looks more professional, but doesn’t let you customise it’s appearance. Enter Bebo with its limited CSS and skins! If you don’t like the default look of Bebo you can use a new skin from their extensive repository or create your own. While providing an element of freedom, this does lead to some horrible looking profiles on Bebo!

Profile Layout
Facebook goes for a 3-column layout, with the users content split between a narrow and a wide column, with the third column being for a search box and links, and a flash ad. Bebo goes for a split page with a 3-column user info box, followed by an equal two-column layout below for the users content. Here’s a peek,

Facebook and Bebo profiles

Facebook is on the left with its default colour scheme. Bebo on the right has been re-skinned with a relatively simple look created by me! (Note – Bebo does NOT display ads on your profile page. I use Ad-Block in Firefox hence there’s no annoying flash ad in the Facebook screenshot above)

Both let you move content boxes around to an extent, but on Facebook sometimes only vertically in the main content column. The layout is easier to alter on Facebook where you can drag and collapse content directly on your profile page. On Bebo you have to head for the “change modules” page to swap content between the columns.

Pimp my Profile
Here Facebook and Bebo are quite different in their provision of extra content and 3rd party tools. Facebook has opened up their API and as a result has a huge number of “applications” that can be added to your profile to incorporate features and/or remote content. For example, I’ve added the WordPress and Digg apps which pull in my blog posts and dugg stories respectively. Bebo’s strength is in music and videos with loads available on site and being easy to include into your profile. Where Bebo lacks applications, it does have “widgets”, but from what I’ve seen, they are simply woeful. This however should change sometime in the future with Bebo announcing they are launching a developer platform (see this story at Mashable) which will allow Facebook style apps to be built. Bring it on! In the very least I expect an RSS importer so I can syndicate my favourite feed(s) – sadly, even this most basic feature is currently missing in Bebo.

What are my friends doing?
Both sites provide the user with a “home” page where changes or comments made by friends are listed. This is crucial for a useful experience since without this functionality you’d have to visit every one of yours friends pages to see what they’re up to. Again, here’s a peek,

Facebook and Bebo homepages

Facebook provides a “news feed” of ‘who and what’ headlines along with info and links and has some nifty slider controls to adjust the frequency of the various notifications. Similarly, Bebo provides a content summary along with your friends avatar and appeared at first to be more visual, including uploaded photos and videos in the list. Both sites provide filtering to list only a single type of notification and if you want to get in touch away from your public profile both sites have a private message/mail system.

Pros and Cons
As you’d expect, both networks have good and bad features. I like the look of Facebook, but then I could skin Bebo to look the same, and I do like the skinnable nature of Bebo. The big plus that Facebook has is the 3rd party applications, but watch for these to come to Bebo in the future. Bebo appears to have a richer friend notification list, and as a result feels more interactive, but it is early days and some of my impressions may be due to a lack of tweaking the right settings. I reckon both are equal in terms of commenting on your friends profiles, although Facebook seems to tie replies in better via their “wall-to-wall” feature.

And the winner is…
Whichever network has the most of your friends! Seriously, that will be the deciding factor.

If I had to pin it down though, I think Facebook has the edge, but only because of the lack of 3rd party apps on Bebo.

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About Chris
A self confessed geek, meteorologist (aka weather forecaster), father & proud kiwi mainlander living, working & playing in Wellington, New Zealand.

25 Responses to Social Shootout: Facebook vs. Bebo

  1. William says:

    Thanks for that blog Chris, this article helps me in my decision to stay on one networking site, namely bebo 🙂

  2. FreddyK says:

    NO DONT DO IT … these sites are just full of no life tossiers! 😀

  3. Chris says:

    Oi! Quiet in the cheap seats!
    That’s it, you’re off my Christmas card list… and I’m sending the boys round for a “chat”…

  4. Chris says:

    Rev2.org have just posted an “In-Depth Look” at Bebo. Rather than making lots of comparisons to Facebook or MySpace, the review focuses on what’s available on site. In fact notably absent is any sort of rating or ranking compared to the competition. The guts of the comments are that Bebo is minimalist (possibly making it more accessible) and appears messy or noisy (for very interactive users anyway). They do comment on the communities built around creative works – music, video and books, which to me appears more prominent on Bebo than on Facebook. Finally, the review also notes that 3rd party apps should be available in the near future…

  5. Great article Chris, not sure if you’ve seen that changes are a coming!

    http://www.facebook.com/FacebookPreviews

  6. Pinnnk says:

    BeBo is Da Best…… all other networking sights won’t allow u to look @ other ppl’s profiles unabling you to chooose between interesting ppl not not so sweet ppl…therefore shut myspace n’ facebook dwn and move on to the better future of networking namely BEBO….

  7. Rosie says:

    One of the best and most unique features at bebo is the whiteboard.

    How come no mention?

  8. bebosucks says:

    Bebo is hideous, its made unusable by people skinning it like myspace. Facebook maintains it’s style and is far more accessable, ever been on a myspace or bebo page where people have black text on a dark photo background, no brainer, neilson would spit his tea at that. dont get me started on those who embed music videos and songs so halfway through reading or squinting at this black text you get beyonce blarring out.

    facebook for friends and family, linkd in for work

  9. Bebo skins says:

    I used to be a bebo man and still am, although I have to say facebook is a better site. Facebook has a larger, better selection of applications, once you have added them you done have a cluttered page as you would have on bebo with lots of modules. The sooner everyone does a switch over to facebook the beter 🙂

  10. Chris says:

    Should probably add a footnote here – I’ve now officially ditched Bebo and nuked my account there. The groundswell of friends and family now on Facebook simply killed Bebo for me.

  11. Ambrand.com says:

    What matters here is not so much the features offered by each , but rather, like the Commonwealth, what matters is who is a member and who is not… If all your friends are on Bebo then bebo can be great

  12. James Woolf says:

    Well personally to me i would 100% choose facebook. although you don’t get as much customisation as Bebo which is a good thing in my opinion because of all the horrid looking pages… Also it really depends how far you are in puberty… I may not only be the one who noticed this but.. how many adults are on bebo? Facebook is more organized, more mature people and certainly no different hideos looking profiles.

  13. Patrick says:

    I think that Facebook is better, Bebo is boring, deleted my page and only have Facebook now.

  14. susieq says:

    i would def prefer facebook have deleted my bebo page

  15. Britt says:

    i was on bebo for years but then decided to try out facebook and sice then ive realized bebo is just a wannabe facebook . 😀

  16. hihi says:

    facebook rocks its the best!

  17. on the fence says:

    well facebook is much easier to use, for my broad community the only reason were on it is 3rd party applications for facebook like farmville… Its not as good as bebo for the commenting aspect 1 to 1, unless of course you have wall posts which usually a mountain load of ppl have their say on it. And now they have brought in downloadable themes for your profile. also they have a chat box bu unfortunately for bebo hardly anyoone uses it.. facebook is a bit more for older people and i think bebos more for teens as we would b mre interested n wat music it brings etc.

  18. Mick says:

    Thanks for the post, I have been thinking about the best social network to use and I like that facebook has somewhat of some competition out there.

  19. RUBERDUCKZilla says:

    Bebo all day everyday!

  20. If only more than 71 people could read about this!

  21. Nessah says:

    Both of the sites are cool. Bebo, you have a variety of thinks to do. Sort friends, Sort you picture, and skins a choice,.

    Facebook, Instant and fast working. Its easy to use.

  22. Pingback: Bebo Vs. Facebook | More More Pics

  23. Pingback: Bebo Or Facebook | More More Pics

  24. Jordan says:

    FaceBook is way BETTER
    bebo is Gay

  25. Both networks are awful now… they were way better back then.

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