WAYN's next strategy? Copy Dopplr

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Ning: 1 Million Social Networks Strong

UK-based social-networking site WAYN is one of the oldest startups around. It’s so old it even copied Friends Reunited’s subscription model back in the day before it’s VCs convinced it to go free. But it in the Age of Facebook, it’s losing momentum. Google Trends shows visits to the site are in the midst of an historical downturn, so the founders must come up some new tricks. And fast.

So what are they going to do? Copy Dopplr.

Ok, that’s the short story. The longer story is that allowing its 15 million members to share their future plans – “intention broadcasting” as it’s known in the trade – will create much better data and key words upon which to base its advertising story to its numerous travel partners.

This makes sense. If we know someone is “Up for… Partying in Paris next weekend” we can deliver a decently targeted ad on that basis. Knowing what people have already done is all well and good, as the site does now, but they have already spent the money getting there.

So in fact this is not so much as copying Dopplr – which made it’s name by allowing us to tell everyone which city we’d be flying into soon – as much as it is copying (whether WAYN knows it or not) a less well known Finnish startup called Zipiko.

WAYN’s ‘Plans’ is the new broadcasting feature. Zipiko calls it ‘Plans’ too. The trouble is, Zipiko has very few members, so more people will have heard of WAYN’s Plans shortly, than Zipiko’s Plans.

So WAYN’s relaunch will not be Where Are You Now? so much as WWYB (Where Will You Be?).

However, changing the WAYN name wouldn’t work so they are changing the logo and interface instead.

“We know that based on where we are now we will not get to the next stage of our evolutionary growth without drastic change,” admits co-founder Jerome Touze told the Telegraph in an upbeat story yesterday. True enough. The site was looking damn tired anyway. So here’s the new version, soon to launch:

Part of the new plan is also integration with Facebook Connect and Twitter. That’s going to add a Web 2.0 social element which the site was severely lacking. But it’s unlikely they can really capture that Dopplr juice which has brought that latter site such devotees. And there appears to be no mention of Tripit-style features like emailing your flight confirmation to the site. Perhaps that’s in the future?

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