Trouble for Facebook and MySpace

You could see this coming on the college campus -- as good an early warning system for the viability of social networks as anything. Now a recent Wall Street Journal article quotes Nielsen/NetRatings as showing both Facebook and MySpace lost visitors in September. The Journal says, "the number of unique U.S. visitors at MySpace fell 4% to 47.2 million from 49.2 million in August and the number of visitors to Facebook fell 12% to 7.8 million from 8.9 million." You remember MySpace. Rupert Murdock paid about $600 million for it last year. And Facebook is rumored to be worth about $1 billion -- plausible in this post-YouTube/Google world. To be fair there are some extenuating circumstances -- seasonal considerations, claims from MySpace that the deletion rate has not been increasing. Still this hickup is not growth and growth is what MySpace and Facebook were all about. If you've been following my posts, you know that I have come to believe from working with the next generation that they are very, very fickle. If you listen hard enough you can almost pick up the next trends early. What are they? Facebook has real trouble. Students are still addicted to it, but it seems to be losing the cool factor and students become grads and they leave college things behind -- things like Facebook. And new students have new ways to conduct social networking. Not good for Facebook. MySpace is, well -- too big and believe it or not too big could be its downfall eventually. Everything's fine now, it's just the future that's questionable. YouTube is hot right now and probably will remain hot through the 08 elections, but anyone can do video and nothing stands still with this generation. After all, Al Gore may have invented the Internet but Gen Y invented social networking. To this generation one year is like ten. Imagine how old the iPod is at 5 years (in Del Colliano time that makes it 25 years old!). You want to play with this generation? Be nimble and remember they are all about relationships.