Digital Journal — The mighty haven’t fallen, but they’re definitely stumbling. Case in point: MySpace.com is alienating some users with a barrage of spam, hurting the social-networking site’s overall growth.
MySpace lost visitors in September, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. The number of unique U.S. visitors fell 4 per cent to 47.2 million from 49.2 million in August, and traffic only increased 3.1 per cent during the past summer, compared with 45 per cent in the same period a year ago.
Is News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch shaking in his gold-plated underwear? He should be, considering how many users are now abandoning MySpace because of spambots that are flooding personal pages with advertising masquerading as “friend” requests. Sites like Friendbot.com and FriendAdder.com sell programs that send mass requests to MySpace users, essentially creating a new nefarious breed of email spam.
Whenever a phenomenon like MySpace reaches a tipping point, expect advertisers to find a way to take advantage. If you thought MySpace pages look cluttered now, it’s only going to get worse once guerrilla marketing campaigns double their efforts to swarm millions of pages. Forget pedophiles; MySpace’s worst enemy will be companies looking for any kind of weakness to exploit the Web 2.0’s star child.
And when one giant tumbles, a follower gains momentum. MySpace competitor Facebook is enjoying its own success, since the number of registered users rose 9 per cent to 11 million in September, while individual page views rose 40 per cent to 16.5 billion. Facebook might not have the same reputation as MySpace, but it’s shaping up to be the one-stop hub for college students. MySpace’s drop in user numbers last month must be plastering a smile on the Facebook team.
What should MySpace do to rebound? In all honesty, the site is popular enough (No. 6 on Web-ranking site Alexa) that it will face an inevitable slowdown. Remember the seismic growth of Yahoo? Now its traffic only increases slightly month to month, a clue that large sites don’t always have impressive leaps in traffic. It’s a lesson MySpace should take to heart as it looks forward to wooing the next generation of social-networking mavens.