Facebook… over 550 million users; over 70 different translations; a movie was born out of its existence; a Dummies Handbook has been written for it; and one out of every dozen people on the planet have a Facebook account.
We don’t need to tell you what Facebook is; everyone has at least heard of it, and as you can tell above, a large portion of the population are frequent users. Alexa ranks Facebook as the number two top site on the web, second only to Google.
But do you remember a time before Facebook? Before this blue site infiltrated every aspect of our lives? There was something else, think hard and you might remember… MySpace.
In this blog post, we’d like to compare and contrast the workings of Facebook and MySpace. Why such a quick growth? Why such a quick fall? And why does my computer recognize “Facebook” as a word, and not “MySpace”?
Things to think about…
- MySpace was launched in January of 2004, by Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson, ages 37 and 33.
- Facebook was launched in February of 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg and three friends, none of them over the age of 23.
- MySpace began with two men who had worked in internet marketing and social media all their lives.
- Facebook began with four guys in a dorm room.
- MySpace founders launched it as a social networking site, and always planned for it to go global. It started out locally though, in Southern California, with local musicians and actors. It reached one million members in a month, near the time that Facebook was first launched.
- Facebook’s founders originally intended it to be a Harvard community website, but by March it had expanded to include Stanford, Columbia and Yale University. It reached one million uisers by December of 2004, ten months after it’s launch.
- It took MySpace a little over three years to reach 150 million members.
- It took Facebook a little less than five years to reach 150 million members.
At this point in the story, it looks like MySpace is coming out ahead. It certainly got moving faster, led by two men who were internet savvy, but Facebook was the tortoise… “Slow and steady wins the race.”
We know for a fact that Facebook is more popular now, but MySpace definitely had the lead in the beginning. So what contributed to its downfall? An article in the New York Times referenced the site’s basic framework as ‘just unattractive’. Because it was bought out by a big company, the ads and overall look of the site became unappealing. Facebook, on the other hand, features advertisements that are relevant to each individual user, based on keywords used most often by each person, as well as thei claimed interests and hobbies.
Another problem is that MySpace focused on the money, while Facebook has been more attentive toward growth. DeWolfe talks about his focus, saying “The paradox in business, especially at a public company, is, when do you focus on growth, and when do you focus on money? We focused on money and Facebook focused on growing the user base and user experience.” It’s working out better for Facebook, we think.
Speeding up to the present, what has happened lately on both fronts?
- Near the end of 2010, MySpace changed their logo to “My___,” promoting their site as a way to now “Connect with entertainment,” rather than a social network in competition with Facebook.
- Near the end of 2010, Mark Zuckerberg was named the Times’ 2010 Person of the Year, for “connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them…”
- Mid January 2011, MySpace announced that they would be laying off 47% of their global workforce, impacting “about 500 employees.”
- Mid January 2011, Facebook paid the American Farm Bureau $8.5 million for the domain name FB.com, which simply redirects to facebook.com.
The kicker is this: you can now log on to MySpace through your Facebook account. If that isn’t the ultimate surrender on MySpace’s part, we’re not sure what is.
But what happens now? Is Facebook going to suffer the same death as MySpace? Will Mark Zuckerberg sell out to some big corporation? Only time will tell if Facebook will follow in the footsteps of MySpace and become just another “social networking site of the past,” making way for some other up-and-coming site to follow in its path.