Before Twitter, these 5 social networks had their downfall… Here’s why

Posted on Nov 22, 2022 12:57 PMUpdated on Nov. 22, 2022, 1:06 pm

Is the blue bird about to breathe? Since its acquisition – at the end of October – by the eccentric billionaire Elon Musk, the future of Twitter seems even more uncertain. After laying off half of its 7,500 employees, the social network must also deal with many resignations. Sunday, November 20, the boss of the French branch of the platform, Damien Viel, announced his departure. And many microblogging site users are also tempted to do the same, already looking for alternatives like Mastodon.

In any case, Twitter is not the first social network to experience a decline. Before him, the web’s history over the past two decades has been marked by the rise and fall of many other platforms. Looking back at what happened to five of them, and the reasons that may have explained their departure from the road.

Viadeo… Eaten by LinkedIn

Viadewhat? There was a time (far away, of course) when France could be proud of the launch of one of the main professional social networks in the world, a certain Viadeo. Created in 2004, a year after the launch of LinkedIn, the French platform was, for a time, able to challenge the now American juggernaut. In 2008, Viadeo, for example, had 25 million members, compared to 48 million for LinkedIn at the same time. But the tricolor network “does not know how to evolve its product with agility, or successfully leave the French borders, having failed to develop in the United States and China”studies Nicolas Vanbremeersch, president of the think tank Renaissance Numérique.

The platform began its decline shortly after its listing on the Paris Stock Exchange in 2014. The following year, it exited the Chinese market, forced out its founder and director Dan Serfaty and eventually bought the company in 2016. by the Figaro Group. Now called JDN Viadeo, the network is no longer (at all) to compete with LinkedIn, which just exceeded 25 million members this year in France alone and 850 million worldwide.

Friends since then… Facebook caught up

“I’m talking to you about a time that people under 20 don’t know about. » That Facebook is starting to smell like mothballs for a good part of “Generation Z”, few should know (even by name) this platform, which makes it possible to find former classmates built in 2001. In 2008, seven years after its creation, and while Facebook opened its first office in France, Copains d’avant was the leading social network in France, with ten million registered users… before disappearing from the American giant.

For consultant and digital specialist Romain Rissoan, Copains d’avant just had a bad time. “it’s time to market. The site arrived too soon. It is not perceived and thought of as a social network, but as a directory of former classmates”.

Myspace… Fell under the ‘wall’

At that time, there was no Spotify, Deezer, and other streaming platforms. Founded in 2003 in the United States, Myspace is a social networking website that allows its members to have a personalized web space, as well as a blog. The platform quickly became an important link for singers, bands and other DJs to publish their musical compositions. In 2005, it was the fourth most consulted site in the world (behind – the now dusty – Yahoo!, AOL, and MSN), also the year of its acquisition by Australian-American billionaire Rupert Murdoch.

But in the late 2000s, the rise of Myspace was slowed by the arrival of Facebook. “I’m thinking especially of the famous ‘wall’ of Mark Zuckerberg’s company. This continuous scrolling ‘wall’ system spelled the end of Myspace”, believes the boss of the think tank Renaissance Numérique. According to him, Myspace also has no “can’t get past a young target”. And Romain Rissoan added: “Myspace is a bit like Copains d’avant. They experienced success in spite of themselves, but never had the ambition or project to become a social network as we know it since the advent of Facebook. »

Google +… Google caught up

Why not us? This is certainly what the web giant Google had in mind when it decided to launch, in 2011, its own social network, Google +, to compete with the inevitable Facebook. This launch comes after several (failed) attempts by the Mountain View company to create its own community platform, including Orkut in 2004, Wave in 2009 and Buzz in 2010. With Google +, the American company hopes to it will finally be right. .formula. But while every individual with a Gmail account is automatically subscribed to Google + – allowing the platform to grow from 60 million users at the end of 2011 to more than 110 million in 2015 – very few of them actually which is active. on the network.

For consultant and digital specialist Romain Rissoan, “Google + wants to position itself as an alternative social network, with a promise not to exploit users’ personal data”. But, where the shoe is pinched according to him, it is the platform did not suggest “limited features only” compared to its competitors and, above all, did not succeed in removing the bad image in terms of “use of personal data” where Google suffered. On April 2, 2019, after just under eight years of existence, the social network “made of” Google closed up shop.

Skyblog… kept to myself

“Skyblog, first social network in France”, headlined the newspaper Liberation in September 2007. Launched five years ago by the French radio station Skyrock, Skyblog presented itself as a platform for creating and managing blogs for free. Thanks to its simple layout, the network quickly became ‘the place to be’ for an entire generation of teenagers and young adults. Renamed Skyrock in 2007, the platform was the seventh most popular social network in the world the following year. But in the 2010s, as Facebook (again!) became more hegemonic, the tricolor site experienced a decline.

“He was cheated by both Myspace and Facebook. Above all, the ‘product’ of Skyblog was not able to advance fast enough and conquer new age categories”, decrypts Nicolas Vanbremeersch. For his part, digital expert Romain Rissoan judges that the platform never “aspires to fight to establish itself as one of the main social networks on the international scene”.

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