If hype was the only indicator of marketshare in social networking, Facebook would be the winner by a mile, and yet for all the talk of Facebook’s greatness, MySpace remains the most popular social networking destination.
The social networking market so far has seen something that defies conventional economic thinking. Instead of users choosing one service or the other they often choose both. Until now.
New figures released by HitWise show that in Australia at least, MySpace is now losing market share as the Facebook juggernaut continues. Traffic to MySpace in Australia has dropped 5% as Facebook has tripled its traffic in the 10 weeks to October 13, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Some may suggest that the Facebook platform is providing a superior social networking offering that is driving a switch; this in part is valid however it ignores two other factors. First is the direction of MySpace: it’s hard to grow traffic when you’re already at the top, so traffic options are static or down. MySpace is adopting an open platform that will provide additional services for their members, but in the mean time not much new happening on MySpace; boredom with MySpace would naturally result in declining traffic. The second factor is the amazing word of mouth Facebook currently has. The platform is irrelevant when anyone and everyone is talking Facebook at the moment, and not just within tech circles. I’ve had old school friends I haven’t seen in 20 years ping me on Facebook, and a majority of my friends list would now consist of non-tech related friends. Facebook comes up in conversations all the time when I’m talking to people outside of the tech community: it has become the next YouTube in terms of popular awareness.
The switch stats are so far only applicable to Australia, but it wouldn’t be surprising if this is the start of a trend, particularly in English speaking countries. There is only so much the broader market can take in terms of multi-using social networking sites. As more people get onto Facebook it becomes more likely that people will use Facebook as their first, and perhaps only choice in online social networking.