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The Rise and Fall of Social Media

We all know Facebook, a now social media powerhouse has quickly risen to power in its few years of operation. Originally a small social networking company started by Harvard students for Harvard students, Facebook has grown into a multi-billion dollar company with over 152 million users in the US and Canada and 1.35 Billion worldwide. But how did a company who started from no one become so big so fast?

In January of 2009, Facebook officially overtook all other social networking sides as the premiere and most widely used. This is just a few years after Myspace, a company very similar in terms of premise, who held a majority of the market share a year prior. Chunka Mui, a contributor to Forbes magazine argues that the decline of the social media giant was due to “fragility of social media, where fickle consumers and changing tastes can make sensations out of servers,” and I tend to agree. Social networks rely on the premise of effective communication with friends and family, if your friends are not on a social networking site there is minimal reason for you to be on it either. Myspace fell Vitim to a simple cascade. Mui insist that Facebook was able to catch and surpass Myspace because it provided a much better platform to “interact with friends”, whereas Myspace focused on “serving eyeballs and advertisers.” Facebook stayed on a definite goal to attract long lasting users to their network while Myspace was more inclined to make a profit despite their declining user base which in turn helped them climb to the greatness they are now.

Networks such as social media are always prone to a cascading behavior. Cascading behavior suggests that as more people use an item which increase in value with greater user base, it is inevitable the even more people will join in as the value of the product increases. As Facebook began to gain users for its product, said users friends began to see the increased value for choosing Facebook over Myspace, and as more and more people switch over to Facebook, the cascade continued to perpetuate, all the while Myspace continued to lose traction with it users. Although network cascades are a simple theory to follow, as shown in the case of Facebook and Myspace, they can lead to very big changes.




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