MySpace and Friendster aren't dead yet
Has-been social-media sites are thriving quietly.
With more niche social-networking portals than you can shake 140 characters (or less) at, who’s still hanging out on seemingly obsolete sites like MySpace and Friendster? This guy right here: Angel Orellana, a 29-year-old delivery driver who uses only MySpace. “I’m just not interested in Facebook right now because I don’t have many friends there,” Orellana says. “It’s more for white dudes, and I don’t have that many white friends.” Research by Harvard University fellow Danah Boyd echoes Orellana’s theory that use of social-media sites—MySpace and Facebook in particular—might increasingly be drawn along geographic, class and/or racial divides.
It’s a little less surprising, then, that MySpace and Friendster are actually booming, just not among their original fan bases. Friendster has 115 million registered users globally, about 90 percent of whom are based in Asia, reports Jeff Roberto, Friendster’s director of global products. “We’ve traced it all the way back to specific connections that happened between the Asian-American community in San Francisco, where we started, and friends and family in Southeast Asia,” he says.
The monthly unique visitors on MySpace’s Music section grew 48 percent last year, largely because of its statistical tracking capabilities, says Angela Courtin, MySpace’s senior vice president of marketing of entertainment and content. “If I’m in a band, I can tell how many people are streaming my songs, where those users are from, which songs are most popular,” she says. “Other sites aren’t doing that.”
Nick Jones, a musician in Uptown, agrees that in the music world, MySpace is still essential. “On MySpace, it’s easy to facelessly send out requests and build up 5,000 or so fans,” he says. “It’s still a necessary tool even though the layout is filled with giant screen ads for all kinds of junk.”
For users like Orellana, site loyalty is much more personal. “A lot of people tell me that [MySpace] is old and not cool anymore, but this is where my friends are.”