December 14th, 2006
Marketing guy Scott Smigler thinks so, based on what he sees as the poor quality of its user experience (“cheap”). According to him, the Facebook folks in contrast are constantly improving their site’s features and are much better at responding to user needs and complaints. As well as this large-scale direct challenge, MySpace also faces niche competition, since many companies and organizations are setting up their own social networks tied to an area, institution or cause.
Now, let’s take all this with a grain of salt — MySpace is still much larger than Facebook and, at least according to fairly recent figures, the time its users spent on the site per month has not been decreasing. But, other social networking sites have crashed in the past (think Friendster), and groups that are putting a lot of resources into MySpace recruiting and advocacy should plan for the possibility that the site’s audience may desert it. As we’ve talked about before, it’s usually a good idea to move your MySpace activists onto your normal email list as fast as possible, usually by getting them to take some action (sign a petition, etc.). You can find more tips for using social networking sites here.
Let’s think about another implication of the spread of social networking tools beyond the handful of mass sites and into niches. Groups can certainly set up their own social applications, particularly if they have large membership bases, but other campaigns that want to tap into an existing network may find themselves frustrated by fragmentation. If big social network aggregator sites like MySpace and Facebook get replaced by scads of smaller networking sites, it’ll be much harder for us to figure out where to put our resources, unless we can find a site that caters to our exact niche. Care2? They’ve been building an activist social network on top of their email list for years now. Cha-ching!