Three Social Media Sites You Don’t Hear About Anymore

Vol. 12 No. 7


Photo credit to If It's Hip, It's Here

Remember when a “post on your wall” meant some strange form of graffiti and everyone had an AOL chat handle? In memory of some of our favorite social Web sites of days gone by, here is a list of three defunct social media sites, why they tanked, and what your school’s social marketing campaign can learn from their errors.

1. Friendster: Inconvenient Technology Problems

What it was—Friendster was a social networking Web site in the days before MySpace and Facebook. In every region of the world (except Asia), it is dead.

What happened? While the Board of Directors was an “all-star crew” with high talent and previous online successes under their collective belts, founder Jonathan Abbrams believed that the Board’s universal focus on “the next Google” detracted from other, more modest goals and issues, like Friendster’s inability to scale its platform to a larger audience. Explosive growth turned out to be more than the site could handle, resulting in slow loading times and users defecting to the new MySpace.

Lessons learned—Don’t ignore small-but-pervasive inconveniences. Problems like parents’ difficulty reaching counselors instead of a voicemail or having the same questions pop up because your brochure hasn’t been updated will have further-reaching consequences than temporary annoyance. Chances are, you’re making it harder for your potential constituents to like you; they may decide not to deal with the hassle and go someplace else.

2. MySpace: Self-Centered and Slow to Adapt

What it was—MySpace was a social networking Web site in the days after Friendster but before Facebook. Nowadays, Myspace is in decline as a general social site, being the 516th ranked Web site in the United States, according to Alexa Web rankings. (To compare, Facebook is the second-ranked Web site in the entire world.)

What happened? Social media and content strategist Jay Baer listed several reasons for MySpace’s failure in his blog post “6 Lessons Learned From the Demise of MySpace.” Two of the most important insights for private school marketers are his third “Mobile is Critical” and fourth “Think Beyond Your Website” points. The former point references MySpace’s lack of a functional mobile platform for an entire year while Facebook tweaked and attracted more users on cell phones and tablet devises. The latter point Baer makes is that MySpace focused on brand awareness within itself, while Facebook began to spread beyond its home URL and be used in other Web sites throughout the Internet.

Lessons learned—Always be thinking forward. While Facebook and Twitter are the foundational parts of any social media plan right now, ignore up-and-coming social media apps at your peril.

Think beyond yourself and your campaign. Churning out press releases and newsletters and original content is wonderful, but that’s all content coming from you, about you. Consider getting your school’s name out in the broader community through online parent forums or charity events to expand your school’s exposure.

3. Digg: Hype and Abandoned Community

What it was—Digg was a news aggregator, collecting news stories from across the Internet and allowing users to “dig” (vote up) or “bury” (vote down) various stories to rate the content. Sold and all but replaced by reddit, another democratic news aggregator, Digg is now buried.

What happened? Ecoconsultancy’s blog post on Digg’s demise lists several reasons why the Web site failed. Two of interest to private schools are its unreasonable hype—as Ecoconsultancy says, “At some point, a company has to assume that it will need more [than it currently has] to sustain its growth”—and its redesign mishaps. Users left Digg for greener, more reddit-based pastures, despite the huge number of users Digg had initially.

Lessons learned—If you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. Advertise a wonderful new college prep program or your high diversity levels all you’d like, but when push comes to shove, potential parents want to see tangible results and commitments to these goals or they’ll look at other schools.

Just because your school has full enrollment now doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way forever. Resting on your laurels can be deadly for your program, so constantly stay on top of your advertising campaign and re-recruitment strategies.

Additional ISM resources:
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 11 No. 7 Your Bad Social Media Habits
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 10 No. 1 Communicating Through Social Media

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 36 No. 5 Conducting a Communications Audit

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