It seems there are new social tools created everyday. So I had a few questions:
- How long does it take for these networks to reach critical mass?
- What happens when the market is saturated?
- How many networks are people willing to invest time into?
- What’s next for them?
To answer the first question I went to Google trends and plotted MySpace versus Facebook.
From this it looks like myspace has peaked and facebook is nearly as popular now. Next I went to alexia.com which ranks sites.Here are the top 20 sites:
Of the top 20 – Myspace, Freindster, facebook, orkut, and hi5 are all social networks (a collection of personal profiles linked together and competing for attention). The rest of the list is search engines, webhosts (which rank high because a lot of websites have that domain like rapidshare.com and blogger.com), and wikipedia – the king of user created content. Baidu.com is the top Chinese search engine.
Here is the one year trend for social sites on alexa:
One thing that is clear about the top 20 sites – user generated content is definitely king. Not a single site other than microsoft.com pay for content – they all harvest, search, sort, rank, and enable the general public to do it for them.
So getting back to social networks, how long can these things last, I think once they hit the level myspace and face book are currently, they have to innovate quickly or die. Like shopping malls in the real world, the crowds come for a while but are quickly lured away by brighter lights. Plus, a lot of users begin to get turned off when a system is seen as too main stream and want the cool factor of the next great thing. In any case there are plenty of options for users to try. While I do have profiles at Linkedin and facebook, I don’t update them. If I’m going to generate content, I want more control over it then those sites allow. Also, I want to benefit from the advertising.