Myspace, Friendster, Xanga, and Orkut.
These may conjure up some fond memories of your past, or some posts you’d rather forget about, but at one time these were all social media sites set to become the next big thing.
So, what happened? Today we’re going to take a little trip down memory lane and dive into how these social networks failed, and see where they are now.
Friendster was one of the first legitimate options for social networking online. Within the first few months of service, it amassed 3 million users, which is pretty impressive for 2002. However, it struggled with scaling, and by 2008, its servers could not handle the 115 million users it had amassed.
After most of the US user base left, it changed to a social gaming service for its growing Asian market.
By 2015, poor Friendster could not sustain itself anymore and shut down its services. Due to lack of users, most advertisers weren’t interested anymore. It somehow continued as a company until June 30th 2018 before it officially went under.
There’s nothing stopping you from still going to Friendster.com; there, you will be greeted with a statement encouraging you to join their email list to stay up-to-date on all things Friendster. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that email though.
In 2003, Google offered Friendster $30 million for a buyout, but the offer was turned down.
In 2004, Orkut was Google’s response. Named after its creator, Orkut was designed to help build new connections and maintain old friendships.
The problem with Orkut was in the “sharing” aspect of the site. There were no functions to share posts or friends’ content. What you could do was rate your friends on “Trustworthy”, “Cool”, and “Sexy” scales and put them on a “Crush List”. It’s a wonder how this ever failed.
On September 30th, 2014 Google dissolved Orkut. It had some brief traction in the US and utilized some really interesting marketing tools, but in the end, the user experience wasn’t there to build an audience.
If you go to orkut.com now, you will see the original creator, Orkut himself, has created a new social network called Hello that he is promoting. We’re sure it will be very successful, just like Google’s second social network, Google+ where they learned from their mistakes and were able to grow a huge user base (insert sarcasm).
Originally a blogging platform, Xanga expanded its services to be more socially oriented in the early 2000s. It had some serious traction as it implemented some features that would later be very popular on Myspace.
What killed it? Xanga started adding too much, too fast, without thinking of what the user wanted. Constantly changing its interface, Xanga became a confusing place that offered little value. While this was happening, newer and better platforms were popping up for blogging and social media, rendering it obsolete.
Xanga, however, is not technically dead. They are still around and promising a Xanga 2.0. If you go to xanga.com, there’s a whole news section describing what they’ve been working on, including mobile friendliness and increased thought to user experience.
Their last update came in February of 2015, and they are still technically around. We’re all eagerly awaiting this comeback, but definitely not anticipating it anytime soon.
In total, Myspace had acquired nearly 1 billion users, though most of them are inactive now.
Founded in 2003, Myspace had surpassed Google as the most visited site by 2006. Business became rocky when Myspace started to focus more on advertising than on user experience.
Just as Myspace started to fumble, new sites that focused more on the user started to become more popular, like Facebook. Myspace was purchased for $580 million by News Corporation in 2005 and sold in a joint acquisition for only $35 million in 2009 to Specific Media Group and oddly enough, Justin Timberlake.
Myspace has seemed to learn its lesson, unlike the previous social networks. It no longer tries to compete directly with Facebook and focuses on content discovery, especially new music artists.
Myspace still employs 500 people and has an annual revenue of more than $100 million. So is Myspace really dead? The old Myspace certainly is, but it evolved into something very different.
The lesson learned from all of these failed social media giants lies primarily with user experience. If the user doesn’t like the site, they won’t visit it anymore. This is applied to more than social media: if the user isn’t appeased at every touchpoint. then the service won’t succeed.
That is why an integrated approach is so important. If you want to learn more about our integrated approach, let’s connect! (Just not on a failed social platform, please).
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