MySpace vs. Facebook: The Party Starter Showdown

With the introduction of applications to Facebook, the social networking site has gotten considerable attention from the media, and has driven increasing comparisons to its behemoth competitor MySpace. But no matter how many hours Redbull’s Roshambull Facebook App can waste at Compete’s office, in terms of traffic, Facebook is where MySpace was a good two years ago.

Both Facebook and MySpace experienced significant growth trends soon after launch – though Facebook initially grew faster. Because these sites are social by nature, growth was primarily viral. As a result, early adopters of both Facebook and MySpace could be defined as the ultimate socialites —the ones that got the party started. But where are these two groups now? Are they still loyal to the services they essentially jumpstarted? Looking at the groups of early power users at Facebook and Myspace* the amazing "stickiness" of social networking is crystal clear.

The chart below shows how early power users* of each site are currently interacting with both Facebook and MySpace.

In May of 2007, nearly 2/3rds of early MySpace power users were still using the site, and using it heavily; this group was visiting MySpace almost 30 times a month, despite having joined the site over 2 years ago. Early Facebook Power users were still on Facebook as well; over 71% using Facebook in May 2007, and visiting the site an average of 27 times in a given month. At first glance, Facebook seems like a "stickier" site, since a higher percentage of early adopters are still active members. However, MySpace’s period of initial growth was much earlier, so it would naturally have less early users.

  • A large percentage of early Facebook adopters belong to both Facebook and MySpace. This group (51% of early Facebook power users) also uses both sites heavily, visiting MySpace an average of 23 times in May.
  • 6% of early Facebook adopters have abandoned Facebook in favor of MySpace but this group is much less active, visiting MySpace an average of 12 times a month.
  • Early MySpace users are much more loyal to MySpace than Facebook; only 18% use both MySpace and Facebook. This subsection also represents lighter Facebook users, visiting the site only 16 times a month (compared to 30 at MySpace).
  • 34% of Early MySpace users have abandoned MySpace all together, but only 1% have simply converted to Facebook Users.

Recent changes at Facebook have made the site a serious competitor to MySpace. But if early adopters are any indication, users are entrenched with MySpace and simply tack on another social network membership rather than leave the service they initially joined. This brings about the next question; where are social networking newcomers joining now? Stay tuned.

*For this analysis, early power users were defined as those visitors visiting Facebook or MySpace at least 60 times over the course of 3 consecutive months during the period of time period that each site grew from 1 million to 10 million visitors. For MySpace, this time period was May 2004-March 2005. For Facebook, this time period was June 2005 — December 2005.

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