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Facebook for engagement; Myspace for self expression August 28, 2007

Posted by jeremyliew in business models, engagement, facebook, myspace, self espression, social media, social networks, widgets.

As Techcrunch, Mashable, Venturebeat and others have noted, Facebook is preannouncing a number of changes to its APIs, including a shift to user engagement as the way it presents apps in the directory:

This week you’ll see us shift our application directory metrics to a focus on user engagement. This will help inform users as they make decisions on which applications to add as well as shift developer focus to engagement rather than total users. More specifics will be available as we roll out these changes this coming week.

The focus on engagement is a reflection of how app developers are already behaving today, especially when compared to the widgets being built for MySpace.

Both Facebook and Myspace disallow advertising in the widget/apps appearing on profile pages. But Facebook allows application developers to control the canvas page and place ads on those pages, while giving access via the APIs to the social map. As a result, there are already quite a number of companies reputed to be doing over 100m “pageviews” (canvas views) per month, including iLike, Flixster, Rockyou, Slide, Texas Holdem, HotOrNot, and others. [disclaimer – Rockyou and Flixster are Lightspeed portfolio companies]. The companies with a lot of installed facebook apps are all already pursuing engagement, even before Facebook’s change in the application directory. It’s in their business interest to do so.

In comparison, Myspace is still primarily about self expression. Click through rates from widgets on Myspace are dramatically lower than on Facebook apps. And more importantly, when a user clicks through on a Mypsace widget, they stay for less pageviews than a Facebook app. Because the interaction takes place off site (off Myspace’s site) and because there is no access to the social map, the primary activity is for a new user to create their own widget. There is limited ability for a user to interact with an existing widget because there is such a low level of shared data between the widget and Myspace.

Facebook has only a third the pageviews and UU of Myspace in the US. All else equal, you would expect all of the the top Myspace add-on sites according to Mashable to have over 100m PV/month if Facebook has already been able to generate so many at that scale:

2006 Top Myspace add-on sites

But according to Comscore, only half of the these ten sites have more than 100m pageviews/month, and in at least some cases (e.g. Youtube), the primary traffic driver is not MySpace.

PVs for myspace addons

Given the striking difference in engagement levels, its not surprising that all the other social networks are considering a platform strategy of their own.


1. Ty Graham - August 28, 2007

I predict “Media” will replace the “Advertising” as a market trend for “Engagement” by the end of 2007. The biggest hint of the success of this prediction will be from adding “anti-influence” features in social software and platforms.

Facebook is obviously going to lead the market as other networks play catch-up as noted in this great post. However, it’s all a sign of the improvement of services that make consumers happy and give companies real tools to measure the quality of success. Some people predict spam is going to end, well, they may be right if other companies adopt techniques like Facebook is establishing. Spam forces unwanted influence, control is coming back to the people who rise up and create companies that serve their peers.

The internet is becoming more real, because who really wants to see advertisements? We all love our media! By the end of the next month, the next level of engagement is also going to be tipped, because soon, everyone is going to get blip’d!

2. VentureBeat » Facebook implements better attention measurement - August 29, 2007

[…] its users’ attention through news feeds, pokes and other carefully designed features, as Jeremy Liew wrote yesterday. Myspace widgets have lower click-through rates than Facebook apps. Users stay on those widgets for […]

3. Mack - October 15, 2007

Two questions: What is a social map? & Is the assertion in the article that developers are able to control the look of a member’s profile page? Please let me know. Thank you.

4. jeremyliew - October 15, 2007

Mack – the social map is the set of identified relationships in a social network. Think of each person as a dot and each “friend” relationship as a line between the dots. Devlopers can’t control the look of a member profile page – only members can do that. But often members choose to install a widget or app from a developer that will is decorative or will change the way a page looks

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