Why did MySpace fail over Facebook? The Science Behind Social Networking.
When Facebook came out, there was another social media website that had about 1 million users. Within the next four years, Facebook overtook these numerous companies and became one of the most influential companies on the planet. The reason why this happened has got some significant business learnings for each of us. For example, you should be happy to build a business if there is already big competition in the market. Myspace and Facebook have been in the same space for a decade.
The difference is based on the fundamental concept of social network and human psychology which is known as the triadic closure property. If there are three people: A, B and C, if A knows B and B knows C then automatically, C will form a connection with A. This makes C more inclined to trust A over someone who has no mutual friends. Myspace’s main drawback was that it did not allow users to use their real names as their usernames.
In 2006, when Facebook opened itself to the public people flocked to create a Facebook account despite having a Myspace account already. This is because Mark Zuckerberg believed in helping people build authentic connections through digital technology. The strategy of using real names turned out to be Facebook’s X factor because of which users started to expand their network to form second and third connections. And this is where the mutual friend feature came in handy. Myspace was a rigid organization that was focused on procedures and protocols.
Facebook was obsessively focused on what is right and executed ideas with agility. This became the second reason for the fall of Myspace and the rise of Facebook. The third reason was the idea of third-party integration where Facebook practically transformed from a product to becoming a platform.
So, what are the lessons to be learned from this?
First, entrepreneurs need to kill protocols if they want to make strategic decisions. The day you realize that these protocols are making the execution of ideas tedious is the day you must kill those protocols.
If you’re building a consumer product human-centered design should always be taken into consideration.
If you’re not the first mover in the industry it’s completely fine. If you carefully learn from those mistakes you can save yourself a lot of time, money and effort. And more importantly, merely by learning from these mistakes, you will have the opportunity to race ahead of the game.