A social networking site has been described by Gary Schneider as “a site which allows individuals to create and publish a profile, create a list of other users with whom they can share a connection (or connections), control that list, and monitor similar lists made by other users” (262). Social networking Web sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter have impacted daily life and social relationships in a profound way (Lusted 9). In this case the argument is whether first movers are better than later counterparts, the market followers. This case is built on MySpace as a fast mover and Facebook as a market follower in which a market follower exhibits better success.
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MySpace became the most popular social networking site in the US when it was launched. In 2006 it became one of the fastest growing with 300 million users (Vakali and Jain 222).Facebook has been described by Marcia Lusted as one that started in February 2004, when the flamboyant MySpace had more than a million members and was quickly becoming the nation’s dominant social network (7). Lusted reports that statistics from 2010 show that Facebook had more than 500 million active users, and MySpace had more than 122 million (10). As a predecessor to Facebook, MySpace was a first mover and Facebook a market follower.
Facebook had a number of advantages entering into a market that was not completely unaware of the functionalities of a social networking site. Facebook evaded the significant cost of being a pioneer in a field had been suffered by MySpace which was gaining popularity by the time Facebook was starting (Hill, Jones and Schilling 229). MySpace had already tilled the ground thus Facebook had an easier time acquiring users. Facebook also had an advantage in that they could understand the market better from the performances of other social networking companies and could hence focus on what would work.
As a first mover, MySpace did not provide the tools needed to capture its audience. According to a Forbes’ Web page, MySpace users felt that the social networking site was not personal enough and was more commercially filled with ads and the users were targeted mostly at bands and celebrities (“Mui”). Facebook took advantage of this later and its platform was created more for users to connect with real people. MySpace has also been stiff in terms of accessibility to a wider demographic. MySpace has been heavily criticized to not cater to the needs of people with disabilities (Ellis and Kent 108).
First movers often have to pour in huge sums of capital and learn along the way into a new market, and that makes them prone to mistakes that sometimes are difficult to rebound from in a fragile market. This gives an upper hand to market followers who learn from the trends and tailor their services to better suit the market. Facebook is an example of a market follower that tapped into the misdoings of the earlier social networking sites to appeal more to the online market (Wenzimer and McConoughey 33). Most of the earlier social networking sites like MySpace had minor to major hitches like slow-loading pages, non-customizable profiles and even mere appearances that was a turn down to a majority of users. Facebook’s main factor of success is that it listened to the market and was user friendly.
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