Why Social Media Networks Fail
There has been a lot of talk recently about the sale of social media network Digg for a fraction of what it was previously worth. Social media networks rise and fall, and sometimes they do a massive faceplant. We'll take you back in time to visit 5 social media networks that went out with a bang. We're not just here to gawk, either. Looking at the reasons why social media networks fail can actually help you hone your inbound marketing strategy.
Walmart really had all the best intentions when starting The Hub, a social media network just for teens. Kids could network safely with the close oversight of admins and their parents were automatically emailed detailed updates on their activity. Or were their intentions really that great.
The social media network faceplanted after just 10 weeks live. As it turns out, teens don't want their parents to keep tabs on their every move. The real clincher was the fact the network was infiltrated with fake profiles of paid, teen actors who talked about how much they loved shopping at Walmart. The moral of the story is that social media networking should be focused on building relationships. If you want your social media strategy to fail fast, try really hard to sell stuff.
VitalSkate was a social media network just for serious skateboarders and fans of extreme sports. The founders hoped to bank on the alternative nature of many skaters and BMX bikers by creating an alternative to mainstream networks.
This social media network actually was open for almost 18 months before closing down shop in May 2008. Being too specific was what caused VitalSkate to do a faceplant. Social media networks can be weird, but they need to offer unique capabilities that you can't find elsewhere. Learn VitalSkate and make sure that your inbound marketing strategy isn't too focused on any group, demographic or buyer personas.
Friendster was online for almost 9 years before being converted into a game community in May 2011. The network even boasted 115 million users in 2008. We've included it in our list because Harvard Business School is using the rise and fall of Friendster for researching the topic of how to run a tech company into the ground.
The worst part about Friendster is that they didn't need to fail. They were one of the first social media networks on the block. Inc. Magazine speculates that Friendster failed because they didn't provide a good user experience and weren't innovative enough about developing new features. The moral of the story is that social media networks and inbound marketing strategies need to commit to improving. Listen to feedback, work on your user experience and take points from why social media networks fail.
Apple's foray into social media was Ping, a network closely tied with their iTunes software. The network is technically still live, but Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted in early June 2012 that they're considering taking the network down before it's 2nd birthday in September 2012.
Ping users have a score of complaints about an ugly interface and unfriendly user experience, but one main thing that hurts Ping is the fact that you can't share an entire song with your friends. If you want to send a song to someone within your network, you can't share more than 90 seconds. This failure to remove the marketing from user experience could be the reason why social media networks fail. Learn from Ping, and don't come across as greedy by sharing freely in your inbound marketing strategy.
iYomu was available for just 10 months between 2007-2008. Marketed as a "social media network for adults," iYomu was given a tough task of trying to break into Facebook's market. They tried to up their appeal by offering a site promotion contest with a $1 million dollar prize, but even that didn't work.
iYomu faceplanted because they tried to overtake Facebook, who excelled at keeping adults engaged. The fact that users were required to complete a lengthy questionaire before starting to network didn't help the user experience. Learn from why social media networks fail and don't try to steal the ideas of competitors. Find a unique approach, and work to make it your own.
It's Your Turn! What Have You Learned from Failed Social Media Networks?