The WSJ has a story today talking about a slowdown in traffic for these two combined with anecdotal stories of problems and negative experiences. Essentially those problems boil down to it being too popular, too much spam, too much advertising, and “creepy experiences”.
Beyond these, I think that these sites still lack some utility for a large percentage of the population. As a married guy approaching 30, the only real use I have for Myspace is really to maybe find some old friends and send messages there instead of email. However, this doesn’t mean I’m a boring guy without any interests, it’s just that Myspace is so vast and large that really finding and interacting with my core interests while I’m in the mood to do so doesn’t happen.
Instead, I still find myself visiting community and content sites that are specifically focused to my interests. Most of these sites still operate in the older web model of content and comments or content and forums, but I’m already starting to see the shift towards making these sites into niche social networks.
Is it a pain to participate in numerous social networks instead of one or two big ones? Not really, think of all the various accounts we already all have at numerous sites. So instead of idling around Myspace, I can participate in a basketball social network, wakeboarding social network, or whatever else my interest at the moment may be. This is far more compelling to me, and I think we’ll see a shift towards people fragmenting their networks in this way. There’s a reason these niche sites exist in the first place, and it’s because an all-encompassing website can’t service every content area. The same holds true for social networking, Myspace can’t be all things for all people.
If I’m right this doesn’t mean Myspace and Facebook will die, far from it. I think we’ll just see their growth and influence slow and perhaps decline into a phase of maturity.