Facebook claims they have more than 800 million active users. In January internet users eclipsed the 2 billion mark according to the International Telecommunications Union. With around 2.1 billion current internet users this means that nearly 4 out of 10 are on Facebook. Facebook seems to have a death grip on the social networking scene and even the internet as a whole. This digital monopoly is basically caused by everyone being on the social network and everyone wants to be networked with each other so they’re on Facebook. But even so, the lifespan of a social network can be tricky to determine. More than a few social networking sites have seen their prime come and go with the social networking juggernaut that is Facebook.
MySpace is one of those dying/transforming social networks that at one point had more members using it than Facebook. It was even sold to News Corp. in 2005 for $580 million. After losing traffic from sites like Facebook and Twitter, MySpace switched gears and tried to find a niche with their indie bands and filmmaker members. MySpace is now in the process of being rebranded by Justin Timberlake who bought the site from News Corp for a “whopping” $35 million.
Many social networking sites that pop up today or even ones that have been around but lost users because of Facebook are turning their attention towards a specific niche. Another example of a Facebook defeated SNS is Friendster. Friendster was one of the first SNS around, forming in 2002. After MySpace and Facebook killed the site, Friendster was forced to change their format to a social gaming site. It was announced back in May 2011 that they would be deleting all user data by the end of the month. On a Friendster help forum for exporting friends Friendster had said:
2. What will happen to the current version of Friendster and my Friendster account?
We are introducing a new and improved Friendster in the coming weeks that will be focused on entertainment and fun. There will be new features that will leverage on your online activities and will enable you to connect with friends or engage new friends with similar interests.
So with everyone joining Facebook and leaving the other sites in the dust is there any way a smaller social network can fight back? I say yes, there are things wrong with Facebook. One thing I find annoying about Facebook are the businesses and people that are trying to get you to their website to make money. It’s also not the best site for everything; it just has the most people networked into it. Sites that have seen an increase in users recently have found niches in the SNS sphere. For example, Tumblr is a blogging site that has seen membership rise. LinkedIn takes a professional approach to social networking. Also growing is the website StumbleUpon, a site that chooses a random website based on one’s interests sort of like Pandora does with music. Ignite Social Media posted a very interesting infographic about declining and blossoming social network sites.
All of these “niche-type” SNS are competing against Facebook (and each other) for a piece of the new media pie. There are many alternative sites that Facebook has to deal with to remain as the sole, dominant social network site. But Facebook has had a head start and is already monopolizing the market. Some people may not like the idea of a monopoly in any market, but I believe this market (at least in the western world) is suited for this type of dominant website that is kept in check by its users. I’m looking at you Google+.
Tweet of the day: dfarkins
BTW, Van Halen’s new album is going to be called “We need money/We’re pretending we’re still relevant.”