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Social network saturation?

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Friday October 27, 2006 )

MySpace and Facebook lost visitors in September, according to Nielsen/NetRatings and some news services are reporting this as a seasonal downturn, the market becoming saturated or that people just have gotten over social networking.

I tend to feel there’s a very different trend occurring.

The Wall Street Journal reports that services such as MySpace are beginning to have to deal with major problems such as spamming – and some of the fallout from the many thousands of spam profiles is turning people away. But is it turning them away from social networking altogether as the article seems to suggest?

While I don’t have any hard evidence to back this up, I feel that services such as MySpace are becoming somewhat a training ground for those new to social networking. They are a great way to learn the basic concepts and can be very exciting for new users, but as their skills increase, perhaps they are using MySpace less and looking to some of the many other niche networks being launched that are more focused on their core interests.

For instance, if you pay a visit to Mashable, you’ll find reviews of hundreds of social networks covering a gammet of interests – many with very healthy memberships and vibrant communities.

These are services that have examined what MySpace has done very well, and also what it hasn’t and then applied those lessons to their own services – focusing on catering entirely to the needs and tastes specific to particular interest group.

I can see in the future a great market for yet other services that help to marry these networks together, allowing users to move freely between network to network from a single location – and as an offshoot of that, industries will spring up catering to marketers allowing them to do the same.

In my opinion, the social networking scene hasn’t even come close to maturing as yet, nor is it anywhere near a saturated market – the phenomenon is really only just kicking into gear.

While there may never be another MySpace or YouTube, social networking is not a passing fad; it is the way of the future for the web and as such, there’s still plenty of room for many more services and a ton of innovation that is yet to appear.

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