Posted on July 12, 2007
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |
Which social network would Jesus use? If we’re to believe the hype, he’d definitely be on Facebook. Not only is it more wholesome (except maybe for “poking”), it’s also the coolest thing since Moses parted the Red Sea. But not so fast. MySpace is looking to “resurrect” its status as the world’s leading social network. How it plans to do this is truly amazing: it’s using facts and statistics neatly packaged into a press release.
And those facts and statistics are fairly impressive:
Total time spent on MySpace by users is three times its closest competitor and the site continues to lead in average minutes spent per person per month with more than 200 minutes on average, according to comScore.
A report issued yesterday by Forrester shows that nearly 80% of 12-17(a) year olds use MySpace at least weekly which is four times more than any other social network.
MySpace users visit the site 20% more often than the closet competitor in the social networking category.
MySpace users spend about 10 minutes more each month on the site than the closest competitor in the social networking category.
MySpace has 3 times more minutes on the site than its closet competitor in the social networking category.
MySpace gets 3 times more visitors on the average day than its closet competitor in the category.
This week, MySpace UK broke the 10 million active user mark according to comScore, meaning that approximately one in six people in the United Kingdom are on MySpace. As the leading social networking community in the UK, MySpace has seen its growth triple, up 286% from 3.6 million users since its launch in April 2006 to this week’s landmark milestone of 10.2 million users.
MySpace’s total unique U.S. visitors in June are 70.5 million, an increase of 1.6 million unique visitors compared to May. MySpace’s total U.S. page views in June are 46.4 billion, an increase of 2 billion total page views over May’s 44.4 billion, according to recently released comScore data.
According to comScore, 38% of people streaming video on the Internet in the U.S. are doing so on MySpace and the company’s total number of unique streamers has gone from 35 million in January to more than 50 million in April, a 40% increase in the past three months.
Of course, statistics are statistics, and the old saying “There are lies, damn lies and statistics” was not coined by an idiot. There is no shortage of ways to spin numbers, but as I’ve made clear in the past, I think it’s obvious that MySpace isn’t quite dying yet. In fact, it still looks like it’s thriving. Facebook, while thriving in its own right as a member of social networking’s holy trinity, has, in my opinion, captured the attention of Silicon Valley and the press not primarily because of its recent growth, but because of its “story.” The recent release of the Facebook platform (which some VCs are calling the “social operating system”) has added a new chapter that has completely infatuated many to the point that they are unable to objectively examine Facebook’s status in the market vis-à-vis MySpace. Who cares about things like usage growth and revenues when we have social operating systems and new economies?
Regardless of the fact that MySpace still clearly has a sizable lead in the general social networking market, it should not sit back. While its PR campaign is designed to resurrect its status with the press, it also needs to ensure that it doesn’t lose its standing with consumers. Companies that ignore competitive threats and feel too comfortable about their positions in the marketplace typically fall victim to arrogance and lack of innovation. Just ask General Motors. I believe that if MySpace implements the following initiatives, it won’t need divine intervention anytime soon:
- Release an API. While MySpace has enabled the embedding of “widgets” for some time, there’s no doubt that Facebook’s platform has captured the imaginations of many people, especially developers. Having a way to “officially” participate in Facebook has developers clamoring to build, and less-than-prudent VCs clamoring to invest. Developers will go where the users are, and if MySpace implements an API, developers will be chomping at the bit to build for MySpace too. While I of course have made it clear that the long-term significance of Facebook’s platform is questionable, there’s absolutely no reason that MySpace can’t and shouldn’t offer some kool aid of its own.
- Improve its platform. There is a significant amount of room for MySpace to improve reliability and to “clean up” interface issues. I do not believe that MySpace needs to implement an ascetic (or boring) interface like that of Facebook, as the flexibility that MySpace offers users is one of its primary attractions. Younger users in particular use this flexibility to express their individuality, no matter how horrid the manifestation of that expression is. There are, however, some interface issues that MySpace has no excuse for no resolving that would help improve the usability of the service. MySpace has access to some talent that is capable of helping, especially with its acquisition of Flextor.
- Police the network better. MySpace is inundated with spam. This is the natural result of its popularity. Any service that enables spammers to reach large numbers of people will naturally become a high-profile target. Facebook will need to deal with this too. That said, MySpace can and should do more to police its network. This involves both technology-based solutions and manual labor. If MySpace wants to ensure that its network provides the right type of environment for a thriving community, investment in this area is a requirement.
I believe MySpace is aware that it faces challenges, and the PR campaign it’s engaging in to resurrect its image is a reflection of that. The real question is whether MySpace will pray that press releases work miracles or whether the company is prepared to put in some hard work.
All of this said, I don’t believe that the biggest threat to MySpace is Facebook. Nor do I believe that Facebook’s biggest competitor is MySpace. Both face a common enemy: “the next big thing.” Social networking is still hot right now, but I personally believe that the general nature of networks like MySpace and Facebook puts them at risk of being short-term novelties. For those who believe that “the hearts and minds of the people who count have abandoned MySpace for Facebook” the logical question to ask is: if the people who count abandoned MySpace for Facebook, what’s going to stop them from abandoning Facebook for something else? Unfortunately for MySpace and Facebook, the fickle nature of Internet users is well-established and if “the next big thing” comes along, there may be no resurrection for either.
5 Responses to “MySpace: The Second Coming”
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Maybe this is a naive position, but just because a “next-big thing” has come before, doesn’t mean it will come again. With the kind of numbers that MySpace and Facebook are pulling in there’s definitely an amount of user exhaustion. You mean I have to re-add all my friends AGAIN?!
I only MySpace for local concert listings (it’s actually super useful for that), Facebook for friends, and LinkedIn for professionals. I just can’t see myself using ANOTHER social network.
And I think that’s what the F8 platform is about. Forget about fighting over these stupid social networks that do the same damn thing. Let’s just settle on one and then build upon the potential and possibilities that go from there. Most people have chosen MySpace, the nerds have chosen Facebook. I honestly don’t think we’ll see another major social network come about for a long time (years at minimum).
Maybe the current social networks will fight over some geographic boundaries with new sites catering better to certain people, but in certain areas such as Canada/Toronto the fight is over and done with.
I don’t see the growth of MySpace happening by taking users away from Facebook. MySpace does their thing great, Facebook does their thing great. Instead of focusing on technical stuff, they should focus on global expansion. Don’t get caught like Google, eBay, etc by moving too slowly into global markets. Move fast and aggressive and tailor yourself properly to the demands of the local market before a startup in THAT market can gain a significant foothold.
“The next big thing” doesn’t refer to a new social network. I think the history of the development of consumer Internet services leaves no question that at some point, probably sooner than later, somebody is going to come up with a new type of product or service that captures the hearts and minds of the world and this will obviously shift some focus away from the services we’re currently infatuated with. If MySpace and Facebook are still as popular as they are in five to seven years as they are today, what would that say about the state of technology innovation?
As technology continues to advance, costs go down, etc., it’s highly unlikely that interesting new products and services won’t be developed. While “the next big thing” might not cause MySpace and Facebook to fall completely off the face of the earth due to the large number of users they currently have, with the decreasing amount of time consumers have and the increasing number of properties (both online and offline) vying for their attention, this will certainly cause currently popular services to lose their luster. MySpace and Facebook could very well end up being looked upon as the Geocities and Angelfire’s of Web 2.0 five years from now.
Obviously, your guesses as to what “the next big thing” might be are as good as mine.
Fair enough. I guess I just regard them as hitting a mass that is close to putting them on the permanent big players list. ReadWriteWeb is starting to refer as Facebook as a BigCo, I don’t know about that just yet, but it’s getting there.
If/when they reach that stage then they will be around for a long time, just like Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay are just as relevant now as they were 8 years ago. And there’s no doubt that there’s been a lot of innovation in the past 8 years.
I guess that’s another one of my points. Despite the nebulous thrust of innovation, when thinking about the conventional web there’s definitely a limit. We’re not going to be creating new kinds of interactions, people are still reading, writing, watching, and talking. There’s only so many things in the real world that you can map, translate and augment to the online world. And the list gets whittled down day by day.
The difference with Yahoo, Amazon and eBay is that they have clear and effective means to monetize their businesses and there are some significant barriers to entry to competing successfully in the markets they’re in. MySpace and Facebook, on a per-user basis, are not impressively monetizing, and technology-wise, social networks are fast becoming a commodity.
I think you underestimate the amount of innovation that can take place in short period of time. You should read:
I for one hope that Kurzeil is right because I’m getting tired of talking about MySpace and Facebook. I think technology is capable of delivering much more.
I know that you mentioned statistics are just that, but I still think they say a lot. The major talks lately are about Facebook, for the changes and additions they have created, and teh impact it has created. I must confess that I still see many of my friends not touching facebook, because they love their old friend myspace. Myspace should not be taken lightly: they do have more users, the ability to implement changes (money, resources, and users), and I do not believe they would just lay down and die after their acheivement.
Anyways, with big guns working on different social networks such as Yahoo’s Mosh and Google’s Social Stream, there is plenty competition, not just the two main ones.
In addition, there are players trying to be aggregators of the social networks…check out http://www.spokeo.com/public/home as an example.
Personally, I think social network do not add value, just vanity…thus, they have a lot more competitors than just social networks.