Blog Post

Facebook vs MySpace: The Tale of the Tape

There has been a lot of talk about Facebook unseating MySpace as the top social network. While that may (or may not) happen sometime in the future, the so-called gray lady of Social Networks is holding its own.

What is more interesting is that even though Facebook platform opened up to more apps, the Palo Alto-based start-up saw an actual decline in its page views. (Comps below the fold) [digg=http://digg.com/tech_news/Facebook_vs_MySpace_The_Tale_of_the_Tape]


myspacefacebookjune2007.jpg

One could see some further declines in Facebook’s numbers, since their core demographic, the college crowd isn’t going to be around much to obsesses about well, Facebook. Nevertheless, Facebook’s year-over-year growth is pretty impressive. For June, the page views were up 143% while the unique visitors were up 103%. In comparison, MySpace page views and uniques grew 54% and 35% respectively.

This one will be interesting race to watch.

33 Responses to “Facebook vs MySpace: The Tale of the Tape”

  1. I’m a big fan of Facebook. To me, it’s the right way to design and execute a social networking site. I find the experience of navigating through self-indulgent Myspace sites that have very little meaning to me. I know for many, the ability to ‘express’ one’s individuality makes Myspace attractive. For me, staying connected with friends and colleagues in a pleasing, professional portal that’s easy to navigate through is much more appealing. Facebook is a clear winner in my books, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it leapfrogs Myspace in the next two to three years. I blogged about this very topic earlier when I first started using Facebook a few months back.

  2. Facebook’s new homepage consolidates every one of your friend’s updates. It is clear that the decrease of pageviews is due to the fact that you no longer need to visit your friend’s page to see what they’re up to.

    Personally, I use both on a daily basis. I now spend less time on Facebook because if any one of my friends updates their page, I see it on my own homepage. While on MySpace, I have to sort through my friends in order to see if anything new is up with them.

  3. Performance problems were one cause for Friendster’s fall from the summit, and MySpace is certainly having its share of them right now — I’m getting errors for about 5%-10% of my clicks. Unless they get their infrastructure in order fairly quickly (or I’m just an outlier), the cumulative frustration will surely have some effect.

  4. cynaboo

    To Amy’s last point, it is not all ‘kids’ on MySpace. Metrics and numbers aside, MySpace has something that Facebook does not have: packaged Content. They put on MySpace shows featuring major musicians AND comedians. Yes, Comedians. Start going to comedy shows and I bet you’ll start hearing MySpace thrown out there. And they even have special film screenings, not to mention you may see them at major festivals across the country like The Warped Tour and International festivals like Just For Laughs. So to say that MySpace is over and Facebook has won is a little premature. Sure technically, Facebook has the advantage right now. But sometimes we bloggers and computer peeps think too technical and in black and white. Sometimes we need to stop and look at the bigger picture. I think the game has only just begun. MySpace battled Friendster, then YouTube … now it is just Facebook’s turn to give it a go against the monster that is MySpace.

  5. I use both Myspace and Facebook, and for different reasons. But I like Myspace better– I can customize my profile, and I just do more there. Facebook I got for my college friends. I log onto Myspace dozens of times a day. Facebook? Maybe once a week. Sometimes its once a month.

    I like that Facebook has the AJAX and other nifty features, but I don’t like how exclusive it can be.

    As for the pageviews issue, Myspace recently made an intuitive and very much needed change that may cut down on pageviews– it put a ‘comment back’ link on the bottom of each comment, so that the user can click and then write the comment, instead of clicking on the new comments indicator, then click on the users profile, then clicking add comment, then submit comment, etc. Another recent change was unlimited pictures and the capability to upload picture albums (probably a cue from Facebook). They are slowly but surely making changes, though to be honest– I wish they’d work on being more stable. There’s a lot that Myspace could improve on, especially the way they accept CSS in profiles, as well as the design– but it IS working on it, so don’t underestimate it.

    It’s not all ‘kids’ that are on Myspace either, most of my friends there are 25-40 years old.

  6. I think there are a lot of good points here, and it’s a great piece to debate. I don’t think pageviews are the best metric, but would assume that Facebooks listed pageviews are as inaccurate as MySpaces; they are certainly as bloated, with each action requiring far too many pages (despite all the Ajax – wooo!).

    Social networks do seem to come in cycles, but there is a certain staying power among the ‘big boys.’ Friendster and Hi-5 still maintain a healthy hold. Users are not strict in their use of these sites, and they tend to follow the crowd.

    Both sites have their niche – Facebook the college crowd and MySpace the music crowd. To assume that MySpace would stumble any time soon is probably a bit ignorant. It’s a huge beast, and difficult to manoever, but they have the established users and target market that they can continue to exploit. Re-developing the site needs to be a priority, but it must be completed with alienating these users, disrupting the service they expect, and detrimenting what is established by the site/for the site.

    The final point I’ll make is the popularity of these sites on a world scale. It is of course important to tap into the North American market, but having a global reach gives you the potential of a much larger audience. Orkut has a strong following in Brazil, while Bebo was huge in the UK. Facebook is very American, established by an American student and pushed to American students. Will the rest of the world be as quick to adopt it?

    For all of us that don’t know how to spend our time, I guess we can continue to follow the two sites. :)

  7. Odd that commentary is focusing solely on the pageviews numbers. I think Om’s point was that MySpace is doing just fine and an addition of 1.6M uniques over the month certainly supports that, irrespective of whether you think pageviews are inflated.

  8. I think the decline in page views is the fact that a lot of people hate all the new “services”. I’ve been using FaceBook for years. I have 500+ real contacts, and logged on multiple times a day.

    The reason I signed up in the first place was because I hated MySpace. I thought the custom profiles were tacky… and now FaceBook is following suit.

    I’m not going to unregister from the service, but I no longer log on unless I’m trying to contact someone.

    My two cents.

  9. anyone see a similarity to the friendster vs. myspace face-off? facebook is just better (or more functioning) technology as myspace was to friendster. unfortunately for friendster, during their attempts to repair / redesign the site myspace popped up and stole their user base, just as facebook is now.

    just my humble opinion

  10. Not only does FB use more AJAX vs. MySpace, as Don pointed out, I’ve noticed FB is INCREASINGLY using AJAX (e.g. during friend adding), which would have an impact on month-to-month page view comparisons.

  11. mikeelliott1

    Hard page view numbers (and their relevance) aside, Facebook is definitely finding its niche with app writers and older users, as MySpace did a while ago with music and kids. While Facebook appears to be growing at a faster rate, it’s not clear if they’re taking away any potential MySpace users. Both networks will probably continue to entrench themselves within their most successful demographics and we’ll see increases and reductions ebb and flow like the tides.

    http://mikeelliottsblog.wordpress.com

  12. Moataz, you’ve got it backwards. One would expect Facebook to be growing faster because they’ve got a healthy number of users and lots of room to grow. But that’s not what happened – MySpace grew by more users this month. APIs and Ajax don’t mean much to the average user. Facebook grew faster in April and May because they added an addressbook importer that spammed your friends to join. Now that everyone’s done blasting, it’s slowed down again.

    It’s silly to say “game over,” Facebook wins. And its even sillier to say that MySpace will lose in the next 2 years. If it’ll take 2 years for Facebook to catch up, don’t you think MySpace could innovate during that time to make the changes that all the bloggers think are so special about Facebook?

    MySpace is one of the top 5 websites in the country (by every measure) and number 1 in terms of pageviews (bigger than Yahoo!). MySpace is not going anywhere but up (as the traffic measurements have shown for the last 3 years). We’ve never seen a site of this magnitude disappear. Never. Do you think Yahoo is going to disappear because Google has better search? Didn’t happen.

  13. The comparisons you make are pretty irrelevant. Facebook users are older and mature while the MySpace kids are younger. Plus summer starts around June where adults like to spend more time outside or go on vacation. Kids will stay in front of their computers regardless.

    Also, MySpace requests are all full page refreshs. While Facebook makes heavy use of AJAX which most likely cuts down on page views by at least 50% is my guess.

    So to compare those two sites over two months for those kinds of number is really just a waste of editorial power.

  14. I think if MySpace cleans up their interface a bit (AJAX) – and opens an API they will be able to compete well with Facebook. At that piont, what separates them? Free form versus fixed form. MySpace is still really popular out there.

  15. Since nearly half of Facebook users are college students, you could expect slower growth from May to June.

    MySpace already crossed the chasm from high school students to the masses, so I don’t think it would be affected as much by seasonality. (see http://www.marketingvox.com/archives/2006/10/06/socialnetworks_user_demos_vary_myspace_aging/)

    Just wait till September rolls around. Facebook’s growth will then outstrip MySpace’s. And with thousands of new Facebook Applications coming online, including some very robust ones, I’m betting that MySpace’s days as the #1 social network are numbered.

  16. Media hype aside, people need to remember that MySpace has a much larger target audience and potential pool of users. The hypers love to talk about how Facebook users are more educated and MySpacers are more low brow. Well guess what, there will always be more “average joe’s” out there. And almost all of them are on the internet!

    We just need to open up all these cans of worms so we can integrate them with additional services. When MySpace and Facebook platforms start talking, let me know…

  17. You also can’t totally discount the number of people who signed up just to see what all the fuss was about. I actually created two so I could test out the API’s since nobody I knew had an account. Even now every one of my contacts is from a startup.

    Still, impressive numbers.

    -Todd

  18. sorry, this is no contest.

    unless something changes dramatically (in MySpace’s favor, not the other way like lately), then Facebook will catch & surpass MySpace in # users & page views within 18-36 months. bet on it. regardless, Facebook users are probably significantly more valuable.

    and btw, page views is a crappy metric anyway (which MySpace does a good job of inflating). time spent combined with clicks is probably a better measure.

  19. I think what we’re going to see is that every few years a new social networking oriented site will be the darling of the Internet press (and Internet users) and unseat the previous contender for attention.

    Kids, the primary driver of social networking site popularity, like to distance themselves from the previous un-cool generation. My space was so yesterday, facebook is today. I wonder if it will happen on a 3-4 year cycle, i.e., the length of high-school.

    We don’t even talk about live journal anymore, but as far as I can remember it was one of the first social networking sites. I’m entrenched there and like what it offers, but it’s pretty obvious how much more advanced myspace and facebook are.

    And you can argue that all of these platforms provide something different, but I believe at the core, they’re about social networking, and the users adapt to what they offer. So it’s more about a new brand of site, not what it offers.

    For the record, let us not forget that myspace caters so well to musicians, and is thoroughly entrenched in that area. If facebook isn’t competing on this front, then it won’t grow to myspace-size.

  20. No, this is not interesting to watch. Its boring noise. The only people who should find this interesting and thus worthy of their attention are those who make money from these two web sites (e.g., the private shareholders of MySpace as in Rupert Murdoch and the Harvard kids who started Facebook). Everyone else is left on the sidelines. Then again, lots of people don’t know how to value their time.

  21. As has been pointed out before, MySpace pageviews mean little. Each single, normal page view is actually recorded as multiple pageviews by the way the page is constructed.

    See
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20060424/0749243.shtml
    http://mp.blogs.com/mp/2006/04/s_20.html
    http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2006/04/myspace-click-factory

    I expect that this has been compounded by the increase in the number of widgets on the page. If using the correcting factor suggested by Mike Davidson, the number of pageviews would drop to roughly the same number as Facebook (14.652bn in May, 15.312bn in June).

    While MySpace’s pageviews still increase even with the correction factor, what stands out is MySpace is getting roughly the same number of page views as Facebook but with 2.5x the number of unique visitors.

    That tells me that each Facebook visitor is far more engaged with Facebook that each MySpace visitor.