Monday, August 20, 2012

Top 5 Failed Social Media Sites

Social media was a billion dollar idea, but before Facebook nailed the formula for domination, many others tried and failed.  In the post-Facebook-ruling-the-social-media-world era, challengers have squared off against Facebook, only to head home with their tails between their legs and their sites unvisited.  Here are the top 5 failed social networks (so far):

5: Friendster - Grandpappy of the social media family, this was the first site to gain traction with the idea of being "friends" online with people you were friends with in real life.   Launched in 2002, Friendster (whose clever name means little to anyone too young to remember Napster) was belle of the online social ball.   Google even offered a $30 million buyout!  Friendster didn't accept and is now relegated to a dirty corner of the interwebs as an online gaming site out of Malaysia.

4: Diaspora - Touted as the Facebook killer, Diaspora was designed to be easy to navigate and simple to understand, while allowing you to own and control all your data.   It came out around the same time as Google+, and looked almost exactly the same.   Also, it took forever to load and nobody used it.  Nobody.   A bit of anecdotal evidence: of my thousand plus Google contacts, zero were signed on to Diaspora.  None.   Now the Diaspora site has disappeared promising to launch in the future.  Huh?

3: Orkut - "What the hell is Orkut," you ask?  It is an early attempt by Google to break into social networking.  Launched in 2004 by Google, Orkut caught on in Brazil, has some following in India, and is pretty much non-existent everywhere else.  So what the hell is Orkut?  Trust me, you don't care.

2: MySpace - A year after Friendster premiered, MySpace came out and almost immediately cast a long shadow over its rival.  MySpace was a place for musicians to share their work.  It later became the online hotspot where anyone could have a personal web page.  Still later it was that place where everyone's personal web page forced you to hear their choice of crappy music every time you loaded their page, and which forced you to publicly announce who your top 8 friends were, invariably forcing you to leave people out only to be confronted by them in actual reality.  Now it's known as that place that Justin Timberlake bought to pretend he actually is the character he played in The Social Network, and which everyone, including its founder (Tom), thinks of as an older, crappier version of Facebook.

1: Google+ - Google owns everyone's identity, but it hasn't been able to translate that knowledge and power into a social network anyone wants to use.   Google+ is well-designed and is better and nicer than Facebook, yet nobody uses it.   Despite the ubiquity of Gmail accounts, people aren't interested in getting started on a new social network, and those who have logged on once and established their account don't go back.  It's a ghost town that even corporations ignore.  Including Google.

These are the top 5, to say nothing of iTunes Ping, ConnectU, Yahoo! Buzz, Iyomu, six degrees, and a hundred other niche social networking sites that failed to launch or never caught on after take off.  Eventually Facebook will join them, but with no viable challengers in the current crop of websites, we'll just have to sit back and wait for the day when we can add them to this list.  In the meantime, like us on Facebook and share us with your friends.  Or leave a comment below to share your social networking memories!


  1. Starting out with a name that sounded like an Eastern European city probably didn't do Orkut any favors. Will now look up the name's origin...

    "The website is named after its creator, Google employee Orkut Büyükkökten."

    ...Turns out I wasn't too far off. This is where marketing research could potentially be helpful, Google.

  2. none of these really failed, they were all a success. Not FB success, but success nonetheless. i recently joined a new start-up named Exploring Tree (