It was only a few weeks ago that MySpace was claiming to have passed Yahoo as the most popular site on the internet. Now it’s being reported that YouTube has passed MySpace. MySpace’s reign at the top lasted about three weeks. I’m guessing that’s not what Rupert Murdoch paid over $580 million for.
Has MySpace peaked? Probably yes. There have been plenty of reports indicating that MySpace’s target demographic no longer finds the site to be cool. Part of the problem is that dozens of new social networking sites seem to pop up every week. MySpace has lots of competition and no longer seems cutting edge to a generation of kids who live online and spend a good deal of their time looking for the next great thing. You only have to look back to the rise and fall of Friendster to realize just how bad things might get for MySpace.
At this point MySpace’s size might actually be working against it. Despite the portrayal of MySpace as a gathering spot for teens, the site has actually become the de facto social networking site for just about every demographic group. The problem is that social networking is not a one-size-fits all proposition. Kids just aren’t going to hang out on a site if there’s a chance they might run into their grandmother. Grandmothers, meanwhile, will almost certainly create their profile, look around a bit, then wonder what all the fuss is about. MySpace’s days as THE monolithic social network are numbered.
It’s inevitable that as social networking matures we’ll see hundreds of new networks spring up appealing to every conceivable niche. There’s no reason why social networks should be any different online than they are in the real world.
The rapid rise of both MySpace and YouTube has demonstrated that we’re living in an era where a good idea, well executed, can generate a phenomenal user-base in a very short period of time. The problem is it’s all too easy for those users to move on to the next big thing.
Yesterday Jim paid tribute to MTV on the network’s 25th anniversary. While I’m not convinced MTV will last another 25 years (or even another 10 years), I’m quite certain that MySpace will not follow in MTV’s footsteps as an enduring brand.