Stealing Success & Leaving the Unsuccessful Behind: Facebook Facebook, one of the most successful social networking sites up to date, has 500,000,000-users. Facebook found phenomenal success through the mistakes and downfall of fellow competitors, Friendster and MySpace. However, was Facebook’s success due to the downfall of its predecessors? In this paper, we will discuss what makes a social networking website successful, and reveal what Facebook did and what other social networking websites such as Friendster and MySpace, did not do.
There are certain properties that will be highlighted later on in the paper that will distinguish the successful social networking websites such as Facebook from the unsuccessful, such as Friendster and MySpace. Social networking websites have five main characteristics. First, social networking websites are user-based where they are built and directed by users themselves. Second, social networking websites are interactive, meaning that they are not just a collection of chat rooms and forums anymore. Such websites are filled with network-based gaming applications, allowing individuals to play with one another online.
Third, social networking websites are community-driven allowing members to join a group where they all hold common beliefs or hobbies. People are able to find sub-communities of people who share commonalities, such as alumni of a particular high school, or part of a charity organization, or who are just interested in the same things. Fourth, unlike other websites, social networks thrive on relationships. It allows people to build connections, links to one another and allows people to establish themselves toward the center of a network.
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These websites are also another way for individuals to discover new friends, but it also allows them to reconnect with old friends lost along the way, allowing them access to possible friendships out there. The last characteristic of social networks is the emotional factor. While websites are usually designed with the primary function of providing information to the visitor, social networks “provide users with emotional security and a sense that no matter what happens, their friends are within reach. ”
To start off, let’s beg the question of what exactly went wrong with Friendster? There isn’t a single reason that explains why Friendster failed, but merely actions Friendster did not take to secure their position as the number one social networking website. First, the more popular Friendster became, the longer it took to load the webpage, sometimes taking as long as 40 seconds. Such technical problems were not issues that could not be solved; however, they felt that such “technical difficulties proved too pedestrian” for them.
Instead of spending hours fixing such problems, the team of Friendster devoted most of its time talking about future investors, potential competitors and new features that would give Friendster a distinct look. They focused more on the future or rather than the problems of the present; they wanted to run before they could even walk. Secondly, Friendster was a closed system that allowed users to only view the profiles of those on a relatively short chain of acquaintances.
As a dating website, it was imperative to be able to find people whom may be suitable for you, but if the viewing of their profile was limited, then the possibility of finding a possible date would be much lower than if Friendster took on a open system approach. As mentioned, most of the problems Friendster faced were technical, but it was their decision to only focus on the next big thing, rather than the simple mechanics that made Friendster possible in the first place.
If the team had solved these minor problems, Friendster today could still be a leading social networking website, and possibly have prevented MySpace and/or Facebook from emerging. On these accounts, Friendster is an example of an unsuccessful social networking website. Next, MySpace saw phenomenal traffics growth starting in early 2004 and it continued all the way to 2007 even as Facebook entered the scene, but what happened along the way? Similar to Friendster, MySpace faced several technical problems.
Firstly, MySpace pages are designed mostly by individuals with little HTML experience causing HTML code to be rarely met leading to accessibility problems for users and freezing up web browsers. Secondly, security is another major problems. There are advertisements that provide links to fake login screens tricking users into entering their information, allowing people access to their page. Another security issue would be of our personal information. There is no privacy setting; therefore f anyone wants to know more about an individual, there are no restrictions on the amount of information they could attain on the individual via MySpace. Lastly, MySpace lost to Facebook simply because there is no sense of privacy with MySpace. MySpace took an opposite approach from Friendster, allowing everyone and anyone to see their profile. Any individual keen on viewing a certain page would be given access whether or not the owner approved or not, rendering owners of MySpace account vulnerable to outside criticism and viewing.
The open system caused a lot of security and personal issues creating stalking incidents, violent fights, and gate crashing of parties. These problems were due to the fact that anyone had access to people’s MySpace page, and nothing could be done to prevent limited viewership. Unlike Friendster, MySpace was able to see more success, however, that success was short-lived. And similarly to Friendster, MySpace did not respond to requests to fix their problems, causing them to fall into the category of an unsuccessful social networking website.
First Friendster, second MySpace, and lastly Facebook? What makes Facebook a fad, and why has it survived longer than its predecessors? A normal routine for a majority of the population would be, wake up, check facebook, go to school/work, check facebook again, do work/listen to lecture while checking facebook, and then go home and check facebook once again. On average, it’s been found that people check their Facebook an average of 4 to 5 times a day. There are many reasons why Facebook is so successful, and why Friendster and MySpace failed to see the kind of success Facebook is seeing today.
In the next part of the paper, we will see how Facebook overcame the problems Friendster and MySpace encountered, turning what could have been unsuccessful into something immensely successful. As mentioned previously, Friendster and Myspace encountered issues such as technical problems such as the webpage taking up to 40 seconds to load or where it would sometime just fail to load altogether, and additionally, that Friendster was a closed system. Facebook knew these reasons and made sure these were not to be problems.
Mark Zuckerberg states, “if the website is even down for a few minutes, people will leave. ” As such, till this day, users around the world have not seen Facebook down. Admittedly, there still are a few small technical problems, but users never had to wait more than 10 seconds for a page to load, and if there were problems, they were fixed shortly after. Having downtime would mean that the rate of infection for social networking sites would decrease causing less people to firstly know about the website, and secondly, to be able to spread the ‘infection’ even further.
This was a problem that caused the rapid reduction usage rate for Friendster because not only did the rate of infection die down, but also people just simply got annoyed causing the susceptibility of new individuals rather low. Therefore, Facebook made sure there was no downtime and in doing so not only made the rate of infection high, but satisfied million users worldwide causing many to be susceptible to the idea of being part of the new fad, Facebook. Next, Facebook did not enforce a closed or open system policy.
Instead, they allowed users to choose whether they wanted their page visible to people, and allowed users to adjust their security settings. It gave people an option to reveal as much or as little information about themselves, and allowed people to choose who to allow access to their information. This system not only solved Friendster’s closed system, but at the same time, MySpace’s open system and privacy problems. Security was never a real issue for Facebook until they started allowing more applications to be a part of the system.
Inevitably, people created software that stole users’ sensitive information. However, shortly after, Facebook reacted by introducing new technology to limit the security breach. Facebook developer Mike Vernal stated, “We take user privacy seriously. We are dedicated to protecting private user data. ” Shortly after the incident, Facebook rendered all applications that broke such security inactive. Lastly, as with all companies, talent is a major issue.
We can talk about how user friendly, or how the technical bits are better in Facebook when compared to Friendster or MySpace, but the truth is that it all boils down to who is in charge. Facebook brought in better viral experts, more efficient programmers, stronger usability coders, more influential public relations teams and faster HR Personal. For instance, Facebook recruited Sheryl Sandberg, the head of sales at Google, Jonathan Helliger, the former engineering head at Walmart, for former CFO and VP of Genetech and Elliot Schrage, the former PR head at Google.
After talking about the properties that made Facebook successful, I’d like to talk about the receptivity of Facebook and how it responded to the population because a population can only go crazy for a fad if people are receptive of it. First, we will look at Friendster and how the population responded to it and what made Friendster successful at times. In 2002, Friendster was originally created as a dating website, four years later, Friendster was changed to cater to young teenagers. In 2006, Friendster became very popular in the Philippines because of their games and fun applications that were marketed.
Along with that, Friendster started incorporating advertisements on their websites, but more importantly, advertisements that had to do with games. Second, MySpace became popular because it was a means to hear about what was happening to others, keep track of the whereabouts of friends and celebrities and to create and attend parties, all on one page. MySpace was not just a blog, but it was an area for friends to congregate and communicate with one another. Next we will see how Facebook made use of Friendster and MySpace’s strengths, turning it into their success.
Facebook made use of the successes of both Friendster and MySpace, and combined everything that was successful into one platform. Friendster and MySpace were both marketed differently to different kinds of people, and because of this, Facebook knew how to make people more receptive to this new social networking site. Facebook did not just want to target people who wanted to find new friends or dates, or people who wanted to communicate with friends and keep in contact, or simply play games- Facebook wanted it all.
And that was exactly what Facebook did, ensuring that people who joined would get the benefits from both Friendster and MySpace altogether. In doing this, Facebook made their website more appealing to a larger population, allowing two things to happen. First, by increasing the number of things an individual can do on the website would make more people susceptible to wanting to be a part of it. Second, a larger population being susceptible would eventually mean a faster rate of infection causing more people to join and be a part of the increasing fad. Facebook was the new generation social etworking website that incorporated all the successful elements of its predecessors, and neglected all the unsuccessful elements. In conclusion, we have established that Facebook has attained a successful status due to its 500,000,000 users worldwide. Facebook is successful because of two main reasons. First, the failures of Friendster and MySpace gave Facebook an opening into the market and the opportunity to fix those mistakes caused by the two. Second, Facebook fed off the successes of both Friendster and MySpace, incorporating all the ideas into one website.
Therefore, to be successful one must remember to firstly attend to the problems at hand, secondly, find out what makes things work, and lastly, make sure the population is receptive. With this, Facebook not only overtook its predecessors, but conquered their failures, and fed off their successes, becoming the number one social networking website of all time. Citations: Chung, J. (2010) How Facebook won the battle of the social networks. Innoblog. Retrieved from http://www. innosight. com/blog/564-how-facebook-won-the-battle-of-the-social-networks. tml Dykes, B. (2010) Another day, another instance of Facebook breaching user privacy. Yahoo News. Retrieved from http://news. yahoo. com/s/yblog_upshot/20101018/tc_yblog_upshot/another-day-another-instance-of-facebook-breaching-user-privacy Gary, R. (2006). Wall Flower at the Web Party. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www. nytimes. com/2006/10/15/business/yourmoney/15friend. html? pagewanted=all Rdube. (2010). Characteristics of Social Networks. Retrieved from http://socialnetworking. lovetoknow. com/Characteristics_of_Social_Networks
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