Going from ‘Fad’ to the Standard

Posted by on April 13, 2010 in Social Networking [ 0 Comments ]

This week CNN.com published an article whose title, just by speculation, would be intriguing for any person looking to make a quick buck from the Internet: How to create an $850M fad, like Bebo did. At first glance, you’d think that the article would detail how to millions of dollars on the Internet–but upon reading the article, it took on a new meaning.

Pete Cashmore founder of Mashable in addition to weekly contributions to CNN.com, discusses the rise and crash of some of the Internets most popular websites. While the United States was exploring the new social networking site Myspace, the United Kingdom had their own version BEBO. At the time, both were the social networking kings, and in 2005, News Corp estimated Myspace to be worth a staggering $580 million. As social media became one of the most popular means of communication for the masses, businesses looked to induct these new sites into their companies marketing capabilities. AOL was one such company.

In 2007 BEBO reigned as the United Kingdoms social networking empire and AOL purchased the company for a cool $850 million. Just as Myspace’s popularity began to dwindle so did BEBO’s and in 2010, AOL project they will regrettably be shutting down BEBO.

Cashmore’s article perfectly detailed how to create a social networking ‘fad’, but in this economy one would venture to guess people might want to create something which has longevity. To deduce why social media websites like BEBO and Myspace seemed to fail, it is important to look at the websites that replaced them.

Facebook and Twitter have dethroned BEBO and Myspace from the social networking scene – both which have a long term vision. While Myspace and BEBO got very big very fast, they failed to adhere to the changing times and demands of world wide web users. Some of the amendments they improved on were load time and less spam messages. One example of adaptation which Facebook prepared for and Myspace failed to do so was with the invention of  the‘news feed’. Not only did Facebook plan for the news feed to be constantly updated, but it also took Myspace over a year to come out with a similar option for users.

Now, Forbes estimates Facebook is worth around $11 billion dollars –part of which is due to the longevity of the site. Twitter, on the other hand, is relatively new and is estimated at $60 – $150 million by Tech Crunch, but Twitters celebrity reinforcements and strategical marketing have made it one of Facebooks’ largest competitors.

Pete Cashmore answers his question on how do you make an $850 million dollar fad by stating, “Start strong then fail to evolve.” With that being said, how do you cultivate and grow your $850 million dollar fad?


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