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. 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...
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