Remember Diaspora? Maybe Digg? Ok, those two maybe not, but what about MySpace? Or Google+? Surely you’ve heard of those! All of those websites have two things in common. The first is that they are all Social Networks. The second is that their downfall, at least in part, was caused by the Social Media giant, Facebook. Now there were other factors that led to their failure, but it does lead to a few important questions, the main being, why did they fail? Moreover, Why did Facebook (and other Social sites such as Twitter, Linkedin etc.) succeed where others did not? And is it even possible to create a Social Network now that could one day rival the greats? Hopefully this article, and the ones that follow, can shed some light on these questions!
Now it should be said that when we say ‘failure’ we don’t mean nonexistent. Indeed, it’s incredibly difficult to completely erase a Social Network from the face of the Internet. However, by failure, we mean that these Social Networks couldn’t quite keep the momentum up, and so lost users, or just never really had any in the first place. Ok, but why? Well, as mentioned, Facebook played a big part. In fact, Facebook is the main reason that the über popular MySpace crashed and burned.
At its peak in 2008, MySpace had 75.9 million users, and surpassed Google as the most visited site in the US in 2006. By 2012, the number of users had fallen to just 25 million. 76 million is a drop in the ocean now, but back in the day, MySpace was big deal. The problem with MySpace was innovation, and connectivity. People wanted to connect with other people, and not necessarily bands or celebrities. Furthermore, Facebook seemed like a nice, easy-to-use alternative, that was actually innovative, and wasn’t stuffed with annoying ads. Also, instant messaging was (and is) a must have for any social site, and MySpace didn’t have it until it was too late.
MySpace certainly wouldn’t be the last network that couldn’t handle the pressure. In fact, despite coming from arguably one of the most recognisable brands on the internet, Google+ is also regarded as a failure. Now strictly speaking, Google+ isn’t a failure. In fact, it was one of the world’s fastest growing Social Network, and apparently has over 2 billion members. Hold on, even Facebook doesn’t have that many members I hear you cry! Well technically, neither does Google+. As of December 2015, it had 418 million users, which is significantly less than Facebook. But, every person that has a Google account, or YouTube account, had an automatic Google+ account, so they can fudge the numbers slightly (or a lot).
So Google+ isn’t really a failure, but as a site that was supposed to rival Facebook, it never really took off. The same problem that afflicted MySpace, afflicted Google+ as well. Lack of innovation. What was the point of using something that was sort of like Facebook, and not just use Facebook?
Both MySpace and Google+ still exist, and have undergone massive redesigns, (MySpace, for example, is now a strictly music related site) but ultimately neither could contend with Facebook.
That’s all for today, but next time we’ll discuss a Social Network that never really took off, and why Social Networks such as Facebook and Twitter succeeded where others failed!