The ghouls of social 👻


Here's something that might astound you...

Once upon a time there was a world without the likes of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It was a truly strange time where news was watched on boxes in your house, where pictures were shown to friends and family on shiny pieces of paper, and where you'd have to shout really loud to tell people that you are at a concert. Can you believe that?!! 🤣

Social media actually started in 1978, when two computer hobbyists invented the computerised bulletin board system (BBS). This was used to inform friends of meetings, make announcements, and share information. Sound familiar?

Fast forwarding through the beautiful internet timeline have seen the likes of GeoCities, Blogger, AOL, Friendster and Meerkat come and go. 

MSN Messenger

Founded 1999.

MSN messenger has a warm place in every user's heart. Launched in 1999 by Microsoft, MSN messenger was a instant messaging client which took the world by storm. In 2005 it had over 330 million active monthly users and was a big part of everybody's lives.

330 Million in 2005! Only 8% of the population had internet access, these numbers in proportion to internet users at the time are unbelievable. 

When broadband started to rise to prominence the service became more and more popular but what could MSN messenger do? What made it so popular?


  • Send Files - To instantly send files was a pretty big deal back during the days of MSN and was relatively easy. MSN wanted to do everything e-mail could do but quicker.

  • Video Chat - If you were lucky enough to own an expensive webcam with an appalling camera like so many of the webcams from the early 2000's you could video chat.

  • Play Games - Invite your contacts to a quick game of tick-tack-toe or battleships whilst you message.

 The dreaded nudge...

The dreaded nudge...

Where is it now?

With Microsoft launching Skype, MSN messenger quickly became more and more redundant and too many people’s dismay and despite some protests (probably for nostalgic reasons) the service ceased operations back in December 2014 with the last ever message being sent in China!

R.I.P MSN Messenger 1999 - 2014. 

Friends Reunited

Founded 2000.

Britain's first social network to gain prominence and launch the United Kingdom into the social age back in the year 2000.  

Steve and Julie Parkhurst from Barnet started the business in their home after hearing about the American website After a year the website had 2.5million users.

By 2005 the website had 15 millions users and Steve and Julie from Barnet pocketed themselves £150 million pound when ITV bought the website back in 2005.

So what could you do on Friends Reunited?

  • Find classmates -  The website worked on a simple premise.  The premise that we all want to know "what ever happened to...". A question we can know find the answer to quickly, but when Friends Reunited first launched this was groundbreaking stuff.

That was the feature of the website. Simple but groundbreaking. The website led to people discovering childhood sweethearts, old friends and establishing a whole new way of communicating.

Where is it now?

In 2009 ITV sold friends reunited for a loss of £125 million pounds to DC Thompson a Scottish publishing company. In 2013 the company announced the website was no longer a part of their integral plans but would keep the website running.

So why not stop by the Friends Reunited website and take a trip down memory lane...


Founded 2002.

Myspace Tom! Your original friend Myspace friend when first signing up.

Myspace was once the most visited website in the world and even surpassed Google in 2005 as the most visited website.

There's no doubt that Myspace was a real social giant back in the day!

   Your first Myspace friend! Even founder Tom Anderson didn't bother uploading a high resolution profile picture!

Your first Myspace friend! Even founder Tom Anderson didn't bother uploading a high resolution profile picture!

So what could Myspace do?

  • Profile song - One of the biggest decisions you would have to make in life was choosing which one track you wanted as your profile song. When users clicked on your profile this song would play showing users your unique music taste!

  • Top friends - Very similar to Bebo, you had the luxury of choosing your top friends which would be shown publicly on your profile.  Another feature of social media to ensure havoc and drama broke out amongst teenage users!

  • Share Pictures/ Videos with friends - In many ways Myspace was very similar to Bebo and Facebook, you could add pictures and videos to create an online bio!

  • Bulletin Posts- The original lengthy Facebook posts first started back on Myspace, granted they weren't usually for big political statements or poetic stories but it was a unique feature at the time!   

Where is it now?

MySpace is still technically alive!

In 2013 Myspace was redesigned and relaunched as predominantly a music network. However Myspace's latest Alexa rank was 1852, it seems like a long time since it was the number one most visited website in the world a decade ago!  

Even Myspace Tom the founder has moved over to Facebook and Instagram.

    We wonder if Mark Zuckerberg still uses Myspace?

We wonder if Mark Zuckerberg still uses Myspace?

However unlike Bebo you can still access Myspace on a desktop so why not sign in (if you can do your best to remember your Myspace password) and  access your old photos and see just how far you have come along!


Founded 2005.

"Share the Luv".  Ah Bebo, the original teen social network. Remember deciding who to share your three luv's with and making the massive decision of selecting your other half for the world to see? Bebo was hugely popular when it first launched and will be many teenagers first experience of social media!  So what could Bebo do...

  • Share Pictures/ Videos with friends - In many ways Bebo was very similar to Facebook, you could add pictures and videos and create an online bio!

  • "Share the luv" - You had the power to give three love hearts a day. What did this achieve? We aren't exactly sure... but hey it's a feature of Bebo and it made it pretty popular.

  • Selecting your top 16 friends. Yes 16! Even if you only really have 10 friends, Bebo was pretty set in it's ways. Just rank your closest 6 acquaintances to reach the magic 16.

  • Skins- The glitz and the glamour of Bebo skins. Bebo gave you a unique feature to give your whole profile a glamorous skin. Unfortunately being mainly used by teens most Bebo skins were sparkly playboy bunnies, footballs and fast cars!

  • Featured Video - Bebo gave you the chance to have a featured video on your profile. You could make a stand out statement about your political stance? Promote a charitable cause? No probably best to put a Basshunter song.

  • Your other half - Bebo gave you the chance to select another user to be your other half. With teenage relationships this would change from week to week and could cause some serious friction between users!

   England and Liverpool footballer Jordan Henderson has recently had his old Bebo account come into the spotlight... oh dear Jordan!

England and Liverpool footballer Jordan Henderson has recently had his old Bebo account come into the spotlight... oh dear Jordan!

Where is it now?

Believe it or not Bebo was once sold for $850 million dollars! Then with the rise of Facebook Bebo soon became pretty obsolete. The original owners bought it back for $1 million dollars and relaunched Bebo into....well into some kind of a chat service?

It's now only available on mobile. The app is about creating an avatar to chat with.

The app hasn't been well received. And with the 1 star rating on the iPhone app store, the public will be sticking with Whatsapp for now - sorry, Bebo!  

At the time Bebo launched a pretty revolutionary social networking website and perhaps even gave Mr Zuckerberg an idea or two for Facebook.

Did you know? in 2011 Facebook stocks tumbled when people discovered Mark Zuckerberg's ill-designed Bebo account. It really was an eye-sore.

With social media constantly developing and changing, who knows what could be in the social graveyard in ten years time? We'll continue to pour one out for our fallen channels however

How one school reached 12 million people with a 45 second video

#SchoolStories are the lifeblood of our 'story-led', creative websites. They are an effective, visual and engaging way for a school to really demonstrate what they do on a day-to-day basis: to "show, not tell" their community what makes the school so special.

So, when one school shares great #SchoolStories that gets seen by millions of people we get pretty excited! 

Alleyn Court Prep's snowball fight

With the #BeastFromTheEast causing some chaos across the UK, many schools were forced to close and see out the snow fall. Alleyn Court, an co-ed preparatory school based in Southend-on-Sea, opted to stay open to celebrate the snow in the best way you possibly holding a pupils vs. teachers snowball fight!

This recording was shared on the school's social media, to be enjoyed by the school's community. What happened next however was incredible, as the story got picked up by major news outlets and turned into national news! 

Rupert Snow, head of Alleyn Court, was invited to talk on Good Morning Britain and Radio 5Live.

What an incredible way to promote the school to millions of people in the UK (and outside).

Curiouser & Curiouser

Alleyn Court's marketing is led by the strap-line of #CuriouserAndCuriouser. This is explored in the fantastic home page experience and website, and also consistent through their social media channels.

A key marketing focus for the school is to develop greater awareness of the school's presence in Southend-on-Sea and surrounding Essex locations, as well as a school for people looking to relocate from London / commute to London.

The school's core values are largely driven by providing amazing experiences for their pupils, to provide outstanding learning through an environment that promotes curiosity, creativity, wonder and a love of learning.

When we were growing up, we didn’t realise we were making memories, we thought we were just having fun! Alleyn Court provides an exciting and wondrous adventure where outstanding learning is present at every opportunity.
— Rupert Snow, Headmaster of Alleyn Court Prep

The snowball fight story is evidence of this, a real and authentic story that highlights the uniqueness of Alleyn Court.

Why did the story go viral?

The school shared a topical story, at the right time, with the right hashtag, and was seen by the right person. The beauty of social media is you’re throwing a net out there, and you never know who picks it up, or where it may go.

On the day, there were discussions on whether snowball fights should be banned in schools, making the subject perhaps slightly controversial. But from any controversy, Alleyn Court attracted the right type of parents and families who are aligned with the school's ethos.

The story helped:

  The story saw an increase 20x more visitors to their website

The story saw an increase 20x more visitors to their website

A school culture of story telling

The school day is filled with loads of moments that a worth sharing, it is often the process of how to share #SchoolStories that schools fall short on.

Schools should encourage and empower teachers and staff to share moments, particularly through the medium of social media. Viral stories, such as the snowball fight at Alleyn Court, are truly authentic moments that happen all over the world in lots of different schools regularly.

The difference between this one and others is: were they captured? How many other schools in the UK had a snowball fight between staff and pupils? Probably a few, but the difference was this one was documented and shared.

This story will forever be a legacy at Alleyn Court, a proud memory and perhaps a new tradition for every snow day? By sharing their video, the school was able to market to an incredible audience and become a part of something truly memorable.

We are here to help! 

The future of school marketing residing within social media and want to see more schools sharing their unique, amazing #SchoolStories with the world.

We offer training days for schools - where we will come and talk to the whole school, to inspire their part in marketing and sharing all those great #SchoolStories. We will help define your content strategy and support you in its employment across the entire school.

It's time to ✨stand out✨ from your competitors - and perhaps you could have the next story to be seen by 12 million people?!!

Promoting your #OpenDay online

Open Day is perhaps one of the most important days in your school's calendar - it is THE best way to truly sell your school to prospective parents and children. Traditional marketing is all well and good, regardless of whether it is through print; social media; email; word of mouth; or any other popular format, but it can only offer a finite experience. Open Day's allow you to fill in the gaps and provide prospectives with a complete, organic overview of your school.

Dopamine: How does this "digital heroin” impact our tech lives?

Much has been argued on the subject of social media, particularly in relation to Millennials, in recent years: 

  • is it good or bad?
  • is it actually harming young minds?
  • is it creating a generation far more removed on a social / relationship basis?

Understanding these impacts is essential if we are to best prepare our younger generations.

We can regard social media as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it enables a platform for users to share amazing stories and to interact with communities on a global scale. But on the other hand, concerns around self-esteem and the growing fear of Social Networking Addiction underlie fears of social media use.

The reality is that whatever the impact of social media, it is here to stay. 

Dopamine and social media

The use of mobile tech and social media has been proven to release dopamine - the "feel good" chemical - in our brains. We receive a text, we get a hit of dopamine. We get a Like on Facebook, we get a hit of dopamine. Someone has commented on our Instagram post, we get a hit of dopamine.

Simon Sinek - author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant - identifies social media as having heavily addictive consequences; particularly on the Millennial generation.

Tech = instant gratification

Simon identifies that we live in a world of instant gratification, easily facilitated by social media and mobile technology. The way that we now interact, shop and entertain ourselves is led by the notion of instant gratification.

You want to buy something, you go to Amazon. You want to watch a show, you binge entire seasons on Netflix and streaming services. You want to seek companionship, you swipe right on Tinder and similar dating apps. 

The impact of this is a generation growing up without the values of patience instilled in them. This means that important factors of adult-life, like professional work and love, become more difficult to manage.

Realistically, there are no quick fixes for such things - they require time and hard work to achieve.

What can we do?

While there is no simple answer, tech today is having an impact that we are still learning to understand, there are steps we can take:

  • remove the temptation: one of the major changes we see with mobile tech is where we charge our devices. For most, this will be overnight by the bed. Try to change this, charge mobiles in another room for example. This will help remove the temptation of looking at your phone first thing in the morning or even going on your phone when you are struggling to sleep
  • take a #DigitalDetox: we all need down time from the hustle and bustle of our working (or learning) days. When this comes around look to do activities that are not based on the phone or in front of a screen. Go outside and enjoy nature. Connect with friends and family face-to-face (FaceTime does not count)
  • turn off notifications (even for a little bit): we all know that sound, and we all know that without thinking you will be checking your phone instantly. Take away this reaction by turning off notifications. You may miss the odd Instagram like or not be aware that Lady Gaga is doing a LIVE-stream, but that's ok! 


Social media is not going anywhere and there is a real danger that it can become an addiction for many young users. We need to understand that social media can have real effects on people and prepare ourselves for safe social media use.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic - please comment below.

RECAP: Our 2017 predictions - What trends did we get right?

[1] Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality [CORRECT]

We said: The technology and behaviour around VR and AR will evolve over the next 12 months, and further.

2017 has seen VR and AR come along in leaps and bounds. It is clear that the applications offered by VR and AR have a long way to go, but in a relatively short amount of time both platforms are readily available to everyday consumers.

VR and AR will undoubtedly remain a trend throughout 2018, expanding into other sectors outside entertainment. Keep an eye on the education industry in particular, as VR and AR become key learning tools both inside and outside the classroom. Google expeditions is already a prime example of this!

[2] Live-streaming [CORRECT]

We said: It’s becoming clearer that live video on social platforms is the trend for 2017. We’ll start to see live-streaming move way beyond just early-adopters and into the hands of the mainstream users.

2017 started with a big advertising push from Facebook, as they looked to dominate the live-streaming industry with Facebook LIVE. Fast forward to 2018 and having a live-streaming seems the "in thing" for major social channels.

What live-streaming service should I use?

Facebook LIVE: as with most things social, Facebook is the biggest in terms of community and reach. It is proving a fantastic channel to help businesses engage with followers.

Periscope (Twitter): if you are already using Twitter as your main social media outlet, because you’ve found success there, Periscope can help you stand out further in feeds and encourage greater engagement then you were already receiving. It is not necessarily as far reaching as Facebook, but it is a better platform for encouraging new followers.

Instagram LIVE: not strictly a live-streaming service, Instagram LIVE is instead an add-on and lives with Instagram Stories. Because it only lasts 24 hours it is more disposable.

YouTube LIVE: video is the natural home of video, and live-streaming will be coming to users soon. While it is currently available, it is restricted to users with significantly large subscribers. When it becomes more mainstream, Facebook and Twitter can expect a battle here!

[3] A Video First World [CORRECT]

We said: We're in a video-first marketing era. In 2017, video content is the #1 focus for many marketers. Whether it be on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, video is playing a big part in reaching new audiences, and engaging with current fans.

Video remains the biggest marketing trend in 2017. Coined by Facebook, "Video First" refers to the growing phenomenon of consumers not only wanting to consume video, but also to produce it. 

The Video First world will continue to dominate, as more and more apps, and major social networks continue to develop tools based in video.

Here are some fascinating facts around the current state of video marketing (source):

  • 85% of videos are played without sound on Facebook
  • using the word "video" in the subject of an email increases the view-rate by 19% 
  • almost 50% of Internet users are looking for videos related to a product or service before going to the store
  • 48% additional marketers are considering adding YouTube to their content strategy next year

Back by hugely popular demand is our Filming and Editing #SchoolVideo on your Mobile Devices workshop, in collaboration with EyeFilm.

  • WHEN? Feb 19 2018 📅
  • WHERE? London (venue tbc) 🌍 
  • HOW MUCH? FREE!!! 🎟

Book below, tickets are selling out fast!

[4] Chatbots [CORRECT]

We said: The question 6 years ago was ‘should we have an app?’, but fast-forward to 2016 and the questions currently are around chatbots.

Keen social media users may have already noticed how automated things like customer support have become. Have an issue on Twitter? Your first port of call will likely involve talking to a chatbot.

Chatbots are a great ideal, and as they become more sophisticated we can expect to see them in more B2B applications. The ability to mimic a real human being in conversation, and furnish the consumer with the most appropriate answers to any questions they may have, will ensure the continued growth of chatbots next year.

Why people like chatbots (source)

Predicted uses for chatbots

[5] Farewell, Google+? [INCORRECT]

We said: It’s been 5 years since the initial launch, but the platform hasn’t evolved or seen the usage Google had hoped for. We haven’t seen that ‘killer’ feature yet.

While many have written off Google+, there still seems to be some life left in the social channel. These stats highlight a significant number of users and positive behavioural patterns:

  • total number of Google+ active members: 395,250,000
  • total number of unique Google+ monthly visits: 34,000,000
  • average time spent on Google+ per visit: 3:57
  • percent of online adults that visit Google+ at least once a month: 22.4%
  • percent of smartphone users that use the Google+ app at least once a month: 30%

We always recommend schools get started on Google+, if for no other reason than it can help push your school higher up in Google searches!

[6] Ads for Snapchat [CORRECT]

We said: With a valuation of $25 billion, and the rumours of its looming IPO, it’s time for Snapchat to make some serious cash.

And they are! There are currently three types of Snapchat Ads: 

  • Snap Ads: a 10-second video (max) ad that includes the option to provide more information to users who swipe up.
  • Sponsored Lenses: from puppy dog ears to rainbow vomit, Lenses are a big part of what makes Snapchat so fun. And one-third of Snapchat’s daily users play with Lenses every day. Now brands can create Sponsored Lenses, which show up alongside all the other Lenses in the menu.
  • Geofilters: graphic overlays that are placed on Snaps. Usually tied to a specific geographic location, ranging from individual store to an entire country.

We expect more will be coming from Snapchat, especially as the exciting world of augmented reality develops.

[7] Voice OS [CORRECT]

We said: We’ll start to see the growth of the ‘Voice OS’.

What started out with Siri on the Apple iPhone has now become a staple of most households.

In the build up to Xmas, we have seen wearable tech and smart home devices sales skyrocket, highlighting consumer faith in Voice OS.

It will be interesting to see how top competitors (Amazon with Alexa, Apple with Siri, Microsoft with Cortana and Google with Home) will continue to innovate their virtual assistants. Expect this to remain a big tech trend as AI development remains a major ideal in tech.

[8] 360 Tours [CORRECT]

We said: This is the year of 360. More schools will be recording 360 videos, and offering 360 tours of the school. 

With the push in VR tech, 360 video tours are starting to become a "must-have" for schools. While the tech is still relatively new, we foresee this becoming an important marketing tool for schools during 2018.

Take a look at NLCS Jeju's Virtual Tour, to see just how great a 360 tour can be (now compatible with VR headsets, for that extra-level experience). Or perhaps try taking a virtual tour around one of The British School in the Netherland's four campuses. 


Next week, we will be sending out our predictions for 2018. Let's make this an amazing year for #edtech, social media and digital marketing.