Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bebo, Freindster, Orkut, Myspace... Will Twitter be next?

All these great companies that have been huge at one or the other point when started going down never looked up again. Same was the case when they were small and growing... they never looked down.

I think the problem with all these companies is the word "Viral". Viral affect does make these companies huge in no time. My friend uses the website, so does another friend. They have their updates on these websites. I am thus compelled to start using it. I start using it so does my friend so does his friend. End result we have a huge company thinking it is a giant thanks to the viral effect.

These companies think viral is the only reason they are where they are, so they try to focus on communication. Communication with friends, groups etc... which is right.
So you have messages, friend feed, IM, groups and other applications.

Now comes another social network which does the things a little better and one of my friend moves to start using it. He starts liking it and starts maintaining his profiles on both the websites. He gets tired of doing that and he chooses to maintain it on the better of the two. His social graph starts following it. And slowly the older network starts loosing footing and panics.

The older network thinks the interface of new network is good thats why users are leaving which is about right. Panic and firing and new design and new look. But here is the problem. You are the same old brand. Users were with you once so they have an older image and clunky one (Not your fault you were the older one, the new network had the opportunity to make it better). Secondly its hard to recreate the "Viral" effect for an older brand. The result is Myspace, Bebo, Orkut...

Current Networks

Facebook: Facebook is acting very smart. It has learn't from Myspace mistake and is making users stick not because of social graph but opening other applications on its platform. Now if i use an application on Facebook, other than social graph I have other compelling reasons to continue going to Facebook. So its not hard for me to maintain my double profiles even if my social graph moves on.

The only problem for Facebook is the applications are designed such that its easy to plug them in on other platforms. So if the social graph does move on i might be willing to add those applications on other platforms and move from Facebook. Facebook is so huge right now that its not easy to remove it from its numeruno position but its not something that cant be done.

Twitter: Twitter I am not sure is supporting any other applications other than tweets and maybe login authentications. The problem for twitter is exactly same as Myspace and all the other doomed social networks. They need to focus on not only growing but monetize. There is no focus on sustainability. What if another network comes and says you can tweet 200 characters because users are sick of 140 characters and users move to that network. Maybe other network says we will just do 100 characters and we have designed a nice way to say more in fewer words similar to url shortner.


While growing itself companies should start looking into solutions how to make user come to their website not just for social feed of pics, news, events. But just for user himself. And that too with applications that are either not quick/easy to develop or port. The Viral word is good to grow but sustaining user is not viral. It has to do more than that. Facebook seems to be safe for now but Twitter is definitely in a bigger danger and it should act now.
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