What on Earth Happened to MySpace?

Eve Padula
Jan 5, 2011

As we move forward in 2011, Facebook has become synonymous with social networking. People of all ages are using the site to provide status updates, communicate with friends and family members, organize events, upload and share photos, and play games. As of July 2010, Facebook had over 500 million members. In fact, Wikipedia data confirms that if Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest!

Not so long ago, a “little” social networking site called MySpace–maybe you’ve heard of it–was all the rage. In April 2008, InfoTrends conducted the research for its 2008 Online Photo Services End-User report. When respondents who uploaded their personal digital photos to the Internet were asked which site they used most often, MySpace captured the top spot (27%). Facebook followed in a rather distant second place (11%). Fast-forward to our 2010 survey (published in December 2010), and it becomes clear that the dominance has shifted. To be sure, this is putting it mildly. When our 2010 survey participants were asked which site they used most often for photo uploading, a whopping 59% reported uploading their photos to Facebook most often. Although it still captured the second place position, MySpace was cited by only 6% of respondents.

Site Used MOST OFTEN for Photo Uploading (2008-2010)

 

2008

2009

2010

Facebook

11%

30%

59%

MySpace

27%

23%

6%

The shift from MySpace to Facebook clearly began in 2009, but it became especially dominant during 2010. So… what happened to MySpace? The short answer might be that “Facebook happened,” but the real story is likely a little more complicated. It seems that a lot of people have jumped ship over the past two years, largely abandoning MySpace in favor of Facebook. InfoTrends believes that the following major factors contributed to this shift:

  • Marketing: MySpace actively marketed itself toward teenagers, which made sense in the early days of social networking because these were the individuals most likely to take an interest. Since its inception, MySpace has always been more popular among younger consumers than it was among older individuals. Over the past few years, MySpace has had difficulty shedding its image as a kids’ site, whereas Facebook has been able to achieve broader appeal among teens, adults, parents, and even grandparents.
  • Design: Although design preferences can be largely subjective, some people feel that Facebook simply offers a cleaner appearance. While MySpace offers additional customization options, this often leads to a sloppy, disconnected appearance from one page to the next. Meanwhile, Facebook features a plain white background. In addition, everything is easier to find because it is always in the same spot. One might even go so far as to argue that Facebook offers a more “professional” appearance than MySpace. The personalized, wallpapered pages of MySpace might be viewed as “kid stuff” in comparison to Facebook’s clean white “corporate” appearance.  
  • Unresolved issues: Users commonly complained that MySpace took a long time to load, suffered chronic breakdowns, and annoyed visitors with chaotic-looking pages littered with pop-up ads and embedded auto-start music. What’s more, many of these complaints were not addressed in a timely manner, so some people might have defected to Facebook because they found it to be more reliable and organized.
  • Rule of the masses: Not surprisingly, InfoTrends’ research has found that people will gravitate toward the photo sharing sites that their friends and family members are also using. In fact, InfoTrends’ 2010 Online Photo Services End-User Research found that 68% of respondents uploaded their photos to a given site because their friends and/or family members were also using it. Facebook is simply more widely used, and this means that it is more appealing to advertisers too. Much in the same way that people will want to post photos and status updates where their friends and family members will see them, advertisers want to place their ads in front of as many eyes as possible.

In December 2010, InfoTrends published its 2010 Online Photo Services End-User Research report. This document provides an in-depth look into the photo uploading and online photo sharing habits of survey participants. It considers the use of social networking sites and online photo services for sharing and viewing photos. It also provides a direct comparison between total respondents, photo uploaders, online photo viewers, and online photo printers to further illuminate the differences between these groups.  To learn more about this study, please contact Robyn Wuori at robyn_wuori@infotrends.com or (781)616-2100, ext. 103.

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