MySpace was first to the table and became the 800-pound gorilla in the social network arena. They let everyone in, be it a 13-year-old girl or an octogenerian man. Typically, the first shall be the first. In terms of the number of registered accounts, MySpace vs. Facebook is this year’s Boston Red Sox vs. the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. So how should the companies that follow the leader gain a foothold in the market? Easy. Accept the fact that you’re not going to be “Number 1”! Then carve out a niche by finding a sizable segment of the general population. LinkedIn came online and targets the business world. Facebook aimed at the college world. Just read Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.
Why did I refer to LinkedIn in the present and Facebook in the past? The former still focuses on business professionals. The latter no longer has a focus.
Historically, college students are an exclusionary bunch, especially the “traditional” 18-22 year-olds. If you are not one of them, keep your distance. Check out the student sections at football and basketball games. They’re loud and often rude and crude. Plus, they stand up the whole damn game! And nary a gray hair in sight. When I was an undergrad at Ohio, I was right there in the middle of the action. Twenty years later, as a 40-something graduate student at Cincinnati, I sat with the general populace. Now as a faculty member, I still do that. Why? They don’t want someone who looks like their parents pooping their party by asking them to please sit down or to watch their language.
Will college students begin to abandon Facebook now that “Joe Corporate” or “Teenage Valley Girl” can get accounts? Unlike some analysts who might say something asinine like, “Only time will tell” or “It remains to be seen”, I’ll stick out my Size 17 neck. I think they will, and that some savvy net geek will launch a college-only site within three years. And take a lot of former Facebookers along for the ride.
Friday, July 27: The FCC, Congress, and the NAB Challenge Satellite Radio Merger: You Can’t Be Sirius, Folks!