Everyone joins the ride until they get bored and go on to the next thing. This isn’t necessarily an unfair assessment, certainly when we see how social networks have come and gone, only to be replaced by The Next Thing. The best example of this is when a huge number of people jumped the MySpace ship to climb aboard Facebook.
MySpace began its life in August 2003 becoming the social networking site to join, dwarfing New York based SixDegrees.com and free online gaming platform, Friendster.com. A year after MySpace’s launch, the fledgling Facebook appeared on the scene. It was a slow burner, but overtook MySpace’s visitor numbers in 2008. That was the first sign of the apparent collapse of MySpace.
Despite constant complaints about Facebook’s updates, people stayed. In comparison to MySpace’s clunky usability, customisable – and often retina-destroying – backgrounds, Facebook had the edge. Games hooked people, but weren’t the main focus, unlike Friendster. Facebook hoovered up a load of new people who would never look twice at previous attempts at social media, as well as nabbing MySpace’s share.
And so it seemed that MySpace was to be the latest dinosaur, collapsing in Facebook’s behemothic shadow.
The thing is, we can often see cycles in commerce, politics, the arts, fashion and life in general, normally because it’s happened before. Social media is incredibly new. In fact, we’re yet to even see a true 20 year cycle for social media, so most projections about what happens with social media are unlikely to be more than guesswork.
Our online habits as users have changed too. Social networks aren’t in Thunderdome. It’s not a case of “Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves.” We use more than one social network. We might prefer Twitter over Facebook, but it’s a tough call to shut down the Facebook account. That’s how many of us organise things with family and friends, or keep track of birthdays.
Twitter is great for communicating with people that we would never know outside of our normal life experience. We also have Pinterest, a clean lifestyle format that is coming into its own. Google+, although a platform that I find personally confusing, does have its regular users who enjoy its functionality of circles and hangouts. In fact, there are lots of other networks that all have a different purpose.
Because we don’t really know what should happen in social networking, anything could happen. The new MySpace certainly has an attractive look if the demo video is anything to go by, and its focus on being a platform specifically for the arts is certainly a strong angle. It’s clearly had a massive amount of money pumped into a redesign from the ground up, with extra weight from celebrity co-owner Justin Timberlake.
While many prehistoric beasts died out, some evolved. That’s the real trick to surviving.