Social media a fickle beast.
One minute, you’re king the world; the next, the conference invites start drying up, the cool kids start fleeing, and your phone calls don’t get returned as quickly or at all.
This is particularly true within the social networking world that has seen companies go from hot to not literally overnight. Case in point(s) are Friendster (the original social networking giant), BeBo and MySpace.
It is important to not forget about these players when thinking about the current social networking juggernaut, Facebook. With more than 900 million registered users, Facebook appears to be unassailable and invulnerable. But nothing in social media or, for that matter, life is forever. Things come and go, business rise and fall, no matter how many users you have or the size of your IPO.
The disappointing performance of Facebook shares since its much-triumphed IPO can be chalked up to many reasons. The shares were fully valued, existing investors were dumping them, and the concerns about Facebook’s business fundamentals appear to be gaining more traction.
At the same time, there are quiet rumblings that Facebook isn’t cool anymore. In many respects, Facebook is a utility, something that people believe they need to be on to stay connected.
While there are people who love Facebook, there are many people who see it as simply a way to stay in touch with friends and family, and nothing more.
They have no interest in the ads or liking a brand or buying stuff on Facebook. For Facebook, the barely engaged user is probably one of its biggest challenges because once a product loses its zing, that’s when there is trouble.
And the reality is once the ball starts rolling the other way, there is little anyone – even Mark Zuckerberg – can do about it.
As a publicly-traded company, Facebook’s ability to keep its users happy will need to be balanced with keeping its investors happy, which means driving more revenue and profits. If Facebook tries to please Wall St. too much, it’ll risk pissing off its users.
As Facebook attempts to maintain this difficult balancing act, it is interesting to note that while MySpace has vacated the spotlight, it hasn’t disappeared. According to Compete.com, the number of unique MySpace users climbed more than 20% from February to April.
While its 21 million users are blip compared with Facebook’s 158 million unique (U.S.) users, MySpace has not disappeared from the scene. While Facebook deals with pleasing investors and users, MySpace is working away at getting its act together.
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