Facebook has been the topic of a lot of hot conversation involving Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google recently; however, recent statistics show that Facebook usage was down 10% in April from the previous year, and MySpace is still leaps and bounds ahead of the superior Facebook in usage.
Results from Nielsen Online were documented on Mashable, which showed a rather significant drop in usage of Facebook last month over April of 2007. MySpace also dropped in traffic, but is still significantly ahead in usage. Why the drop, and why is MySpace still in the lead if the opinion of many is that Facebook is superior?
First, my initial reaction to these statistics is that April is the month of or preceding college finals’ weeks. As most of the users of social networking sites tend to be those of the college community, I’m not surprised that usage dropped off; I’d be willing to bet that last year’s April and May usage fell from the same time from 2006, though overall usage has increased.
Some believe that the recent flood of applications that spam users’ inboxes might explain the drop in traffic, as suggested in an article by fellow Blorge writer Dave Parrack here.
As to why Facebook is still lower in traffic than MySpace, but is considered a more valuable entity to the likes of Microsoft as of late, the answer is pretty simple: Facebook is younger than MySpace, and Facebook for its lifetime up until recently has been exclusively for college students. Only a while ago have non-college users been allowed to join.
MySpace, on the other hand, has been around longer, and is open to everyone. Most people consider MySpace a worse social networking platform, but many users are comfortable with it, at least enough to stick with it. Additionally, many users of Facebook also have MySpace accounts, and use both platforms; that undoubtably skews usage numbers.
Facebook will probably eventually catch MySpace, assuming there aren’t too many users upset at the overflow of application spam. However, if the college crowd is always an integral part of Facebook, you can pretty count on usage numbers to drop in April and May.