I’m sure you’ve heard of Classmates.com. They wanted to be Facebook and LinkedIn before either of those sites existed.
Although I joined Classmates early on, I never paid for the service and always had a really sour opinion of them because of their business model.
Classmates has the proverbial plate glass window. You can join for free and see all those people from your misspent youth that you could connect with… if only you’ll pony up a few bucks for their premium service.
Unless you pay for a premium membership, there is essentially nothing useful you can do on Classmates. Not only has this always hampered their growth and success but it crippled them when Facebook and LinkedIn came along. Both those sites let you connect with the very same people from your misspent youth for free. (Both sites are also quite profitable, I might add.)
But this article isn’t a slam on Classmates.com. Quite the opposite. I’m writing to applaud a brilliant move they made recently.
I received an email from them. No big deal, I’ve always gotten lots of emails from them. I think the only saving grace of the whole site is that they’re such savvy marketers.
The email I got the other day was different though. It included a graphic of a two-page spread from my yearbook. Not just a yearbook, but from my yearbook.
Classmates apparently has been going around and collecting up yearbooks from all the graduating classes and all the high schools all over the country. (I have no idea how complete their collection is.) They’ve digitized the ones they’ve got and now you can flip through the online pages of the yearbook for your own graduating class.
Not just that, but you can tag photos, identifying the people in them and linking to their Classmates profiles.
In a rare turn, all of this seems to be free.
So how do they hope to capitalize on and monetize this?
The most obvious thing I’ve seen so far are offers to sell you reprints of your yearbook in case you lost yours. Or just want another copy, I guess.
Now, I’m not one of those people whose glory days were when I was roaming the halls on my way to gym class. Those never were my best years even when I was in them. I remember all the people I knew back then and I’m sure that most of them are terrific people. I might even be friends with many of them if we met up somewhere.
The thing is, I now live something like 2,000 miles away from where I went to school. I haven’t been in touch with any of those people in more than 25 years. There’s only one person from high school I am still in touch with and we’ve been friends since before high school.
Still, for many people, the past was where all their best memories were made. And high school was the best of the best. So for Classmates to offer such a personalized trip down memory lane is simply brilliant.