October 11, 2021

The Thriving to Tatters Pipeline: The Dead Platform Society

From MySpace to Clubhouse, we’ve seen a lot of social media platforms come, go, thrive and fall into the abyss. We took a trip down memory lane to round up who’s thriving and who’s been left behind in The Dead Platform Society.
Danielle Dullaghan
Danielle Dullaghan

Social Media Strategist

Gone are the days of busking outside the corner shop on a rainy Saturday morning, hoping that Usher will be (for some reason) passing through your local high street looking to discover his next big thing.

Now, all you need is an editing app and social platform of your choice so you can (maybe) become even bigger than the winner of Love Island overnight. It’s quite remarkable that in a number of years, social media has changed not only how talent can be discovered but how we live our daily life.

However, where would we be today if it were not for MySpace? Napster walked so Spotify could run, Vine was born so TikTok could thrive.

In this post, we’ll take a tour of the greatest – and ‘latest’ – defunct social media platforms and ask: what went wrong?

Myspace (2003 – present day, technically)

The site that launched a thousand careers became a haven for emo & scene kids, Myspace was colossal in every sense.

Introduced in 2003 and acquired by News Corp in 2005, it had a short and eventful existence as the world’s most popular social network before decline set in. In one month in 2011, it lost over ten million users.

Myspace still exists, but as a glossy music industry news site. Meanwhile, a teenager in Germany has created SpaceHey, an old-school Myspace tribute act that’s pulling in the users. It seems that Myspace’s fall was due to its flaws, not its format.

FriendFeed (2007 – 2015)

Created by former Google luminaries including Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, Sanjeev Singh and Paul Buchheit, FriendFeed was an aggregator service intended to bridge the gaps left by other social networks. While it was never huge, innovative features such as the Like button earned FriendFeed an enthusiastic following. In 2009, it was acquired by Facebook

Already beleaguered by lively competition from Twitter, it seems that FriendFeed’s biggest success was also its death knell. Once absorbed into the more user-friendly Facebook, its popularity declined until the service was finally shut down in 2015. Co-founder Bret Taylor’s frank diagnosis: “It was just not as good of a product as Facebook and Twitter”.

Vine (2012 – 2018)

Like FriendFeed, Vine was an innovative platform that that created many of the memes we know today. Its trademark feature was a six-second, looping video format that anticipated the popularity of TikTok and Instagram Reels. The site was acquired by Twitter even before it officially launched in 2013. But then…

It wasn’t that people weren’t excited about Vine. Far from it: the six-second format was a massive creative stimulus, and it changed the way companies thought about marketing, too. But Vine’s rapid managerial turnover and the emergence of competitors like Snapchat and Instagram proved fatal to its survival. Meanwhile, founder Rus Yusupov laid the blame squarely at Twitter’s door.

YikYak (2013 – 2017, 2021)

YikYak’s 2021 reboot was a surprise, to say the least. Launched in 2013, the anonymous messaging app seemed unlikely to return after its death in 2017. YikYak’s main selling point was the ability to post anonymous messages visible to anyone in a five-mile radius. Depressingly, it soon became a tool for hate speech, threats and bullying. The anonymity that was YikYak’s biggest problem was also its strongest lure. So when it began requiring more accountability of its users, its popularity plummeted.

The new incarnation of YikYak has tighter security and better resources. Only time will tell if it will win back its young target audience.

Clubhouse (2021 – any moment now)

Audio chat app Clubhouse didn’t officially launch until July 2021, but its death is already foretold. Over the previous year, the app built up an impressive head of steam by offering invite-only access. Clubhouse offered a high-end concept at launch – a network of self-contained “rooms” where users can attend talks, concerts and events. This created an air of exclusivity that proved very appealing. Invites were sold at a premium, and the app’s waiting list rose to 10 million.

However, Clubhouse’s much-anticipated release was a distinct letdown. A combination of technical limitations, emergent competition and the easing of lockdown meant that the app just wasn’t exciting anymore. Like FriendFeed and Vine, Clubhouse never got to live up to its potential.

So what went wrong?

If you’re not innovating then you’re not winning.

Technology moves on, competitors emerge, cultures change and users change with them.

You might have a killer concept (Vine), fantastic technology (FriendFeed), a huge buzz (Clubhouse) or even a massive user base (Myspace). But if you aren’t paying attention to how your audience are using your platform, your competitors, trends and failing to innovate new ideas, then your once thriving community won’t live to find the next generation of users.

At Brave Bison, we’re trusted partners to Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. We know social inside out. We know what works, we know what doesn’t, and we know what new developments are on the horizon. This means we can give our clients the best possible advice, helping them avoid social (media) death.

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