Social Networking = Facebook? Myspace is more likely to be an average person’s social space.


Marshall’s at Read Write Web is right to question some of the prevailing social networking wisdom. 

He notes that the ongoing Facebook frenzy is driven in part by folks who are infatuated with Facebook while they keep foolishly thinking Myspace is of little long term significance.   The numbers show how Myspace remains *the* key social media player, and trends suggest this will be the case for some time.

You are killing people in your Social Network?


Massive multiplayer online gaming is increasingly becoming a mainstream social activity.     Leaving aside for the moment many interesting questions about how this affects the offline behavior and psychology of those who are playing these games many hours each day, there are a lot of practical business issues of great interest as well.

Daya over at Webguild suggested recently that the next generation of social networks may be inspired by these multiplayer online video games.     This is a really interesting idea for game developers – could you maintain the excitement of the game play but have players socialize after the game was over in the same way they socialize on Myspace or Facebook?     I think it’s a tall order.    There is limited socializing in the game space to set up games, play, collect a team, yell at your teammates or opponents, etc, but from a business and social perspective this is probably not significant as social activity outside of the (highly relevant) gaming activity.  

An amazing killer application – pun intended – would harvest the motivation, intellect, and creative thought that goes into playing online games and use this for more practical applications – perhaps in real time as tens of millions play the games.      Unfortunately the most viable applications for the current crop of mostly violent games would be military, leading to a very sinister vision of teenagers around the world unwittingly (or even volunteering?!) to help direct battle in real places.    But I’m thinking more along the lines of some fuzzy logic applications where problem solving at the game level could be used for problem solving in some business applications.      Probably not practical – especially as computers become better equipped to create content and analyze opportunities.     

News Corp Advertising Network. Under the Radar?


Facebook’s targeted advertising was criticized heavily last week by bloggers despite Facebook promises to create a better user experience through better targeting of the ads.   I’m guessing users will hardly notice the change, and advertisers will continue to be underwhelmed with the performance of social network advertising although these ads will play an increasingly important role as social networking explodes and the number of page views on social networking sites like Myspace exceeds pageviews on any other site.

I think Myspace now has the top global pageview count which is why the new ad network from News Corp (Myspace’s parent company) is an important development.    It appears they will sneak in under the radar and avoid the heavy criticism levied against Facebook even though presumably they’ll also be working hard to target the ads to the specific Myspace user profiles.

The Social Network Reality Show: High stakes, big money, false rumors.


The game is social networks.  The stakes are very high, and the news and rumors are flying fast, furiously, and inaccurately.   Here is the latest in the saga of Google’s Social Networking entry which, with Myspace’s participation, is the new Social Networking juggernaut (though it remains to be seen how all the participants will use it). 

More on the Open Social vs Facebook battle for the hearts and minds of developers and, far more importantly, users:

1)  After a 240,000,000 partnership with Microsoft the blogs (including here) lit up soon after suggesting that Facebook recieved another 500 million from two other private groups.   This was false.   It is very conspicuous in my view that the rumor rose and spread so fast, and that Facebook did nothing to quell that rumor.  This news is still shaking out over at TechCrunch which reported the rumor of the 500 million and now reports it was false.   Another example of how news at the speed of real time may not be news at all.

2) Google says Open Social is open to Facebook and all are welcome (I believe them).

3) Facebook says Google was not keeping them in the loop on Open Social (I believe that as well)

4) Facebook says they may join the Open Social movement, but suggest they have their own great stuff coming shortly.    I’m skeptical they can “out open” Google, though they probably could come up with some great new social networking applications quickly.  

However on balance I think Facebook really is in big trouble here.     Much of the recent hype – which was overdone anyway – assumed that Facebook would be the key beneficiary of the boom in social networking.   The reasoning suggested that although Myspace is  bigger than Facebook it was a “closed” environment, favored by a demographic that has far less value to advertisers.    Facebook, that thinking went, will continue to grow explosively, open up gradually, target advertising very directly, and become the dominant social networking platform. 

Then there was Facebook’s refusal to sell to Yahoo for a reported 1+ billion.  This was followed by big negotiations with many key players, culminating a (much overhyped) 240 million deal with Microsoft to cooperate, run MS Live searches, and drive some MS and Facebook advertising.    Then came the false rumor of 500,000,000 more in capital which for many seemed to solidify Facebook’s valuation of 15 billion – a somewhat sloppy projection of the Microsoft partnership price.

So, what is Facebook worth in an Open Social world where even Myspace is a Google partner?   No, the answer is not 15 billion.

Myspace to join Google’s Open Social. Facebook’s value plunges.


It is a mildly risky but potentially brilliant counterstrike against Facebook’s rising popularity.  Myspace will announce shortly that they are joining the Open Social movement spearheaded by Google and which is now officially a social juggernaut of global proportions.    TechCrunch seems to have the latest on this breaking story.

If Facebook was worth 15 billion yesterday I’d suggest it just dropped by more than 50% in value.   Why?   Without Myspace’s hundreds of millions of users Open Social looked like it would be a third player in the field, struggling to catch up with the user bases of Myspace and Facebook and keep up with Facebook development.   But  not any more.  With Myspace, Open Social instantly becomes the key social network, dwarfing Facebook by any reasonable measure of prominence.   Can new Facebook partner Microsoft help sway onliners and developers to stick with Facebook’s “partly open” architecture instead of defecting to what appears to be a very open Google architecture?   No way.

Google Open Social opens Social


Google’s OpenSocial launches Thursday and will be a set of 3 APIs that will allow interface with a stable of early partners in the project incluing Friendster and LinkedIn.   Unclear to me is if the big social network players – Myspace and Facebook – will shun this solution in favor of trying to keep most  of the balls in their courts.   Eyeballs that is.  

The really provocative challenge in Social Networks is whether to close them up and try to keep everybody inside your own network (Myspace’s approach), or to open them up somewhat and hope developers will create applications to interface with your users, but still try to keep everybody playing in your application environment by your rules (Facebook), or to open things up even more as Google will do on Thursday. 

Google seems to be everywhere these days.  The Google Phone or gPhone will be out soon and I predict the Google Phone will be a spectacular success.  They may even launch their own cellular carrier network and seem to be on a tear all over the online space.   

For Google Social the partners are big, important players including linkedIn, Plaxo, Friendster, Ning, and more, but absent are the two key players in the social place, Myspace and Facebook.  If Myspace and Facebook keep doing their own thing it is going to be hard to predict how all this will shake out.   Google historically has been a fabulous tech company but conspicuously failed with their “Orkut” social network which never took off in the USA though it remains popular in Brazil.    Will Google Social turn all this around?   I just don’t know, but will be sure to check it out when available, and hope to be able to develop a travel application for the new Google Social.

TechCrunch has details.

User content myth?


Chuqui 3.0 has a nice piece challenging the hype over “user generated content”.   He suggests that it’s inappropriate to call simple profile pages at Facebook or Myspace “user content”, and that only about 1% of users are generating most of the content in social network sites.    

I’m torn between wanting to agree that things are overblown about this and my basic assumption – social content of both high quality (serious bloggers) and low quality (myspace TV show notes from a 12 year old)  is driving the new web and will continue to do so for some time.     Tons of content is pouring in and even by a high measure of “quality” people already have more than they could read in a lifetime.    It’s hard to make a case that the popular YouTube videos are quality, yet they are generally viewed far more than most quality web pages talking about relevant news or science or yada yada.

So, is the importance of user content of mythological proportions?  

No, but thanks for a thoughful post Chuqui!