Why is Facebook Driving Traffic to Rival Social Networks?

  • Simply Zesty,

As announced on the Facebook Developers Blog yesterday, there have been some early success stories for outside companies such as Pinterest, Fab.com and Foodily as a result of Timeline Apps and Open Graphs. Pinterest, the fast growing online pinboard social media site, has experienced a huge growth in traffic coming through Facebook since launching their open graph integration -"the number of users visiting Pinterest every day has increased by more than 60%.”

Similarly, the web has been abuzz with news of Myspace's seemingly impossible reincarnation – the site has seen one million new members join in just 30 days. The Myspace rebirth is fascinating seeing as so many people wrote it off, but since its acquisition by Justin Timberlake et al, and the focus on turning it into a music and entertainment focused social tv site with Myspace TV, the site is showing signs of life.

The growth in users is reportedly attributed to not just the service's own music player - which will perhaps entice more users given that Grooveshark are now looking for paid subscriptions - but the fact that people can sign up to the site through Facebook.

A Turning Point in the Social Network Landscape

The huge growth experienced by both Myspace and Pinterest (as well as other kinds of sites) as a result of Facebook, represents an interesting turning point in the relationships between supposedly rival social networks.

A few years ago it would have seemed unlikely that Facebook would happily drive traffic via its own site to that of another social network – but as is evident in their post in the Facebook Developers Blog, Facebook are in fact singing the praises of Pinterest "Pinterest makes it easy for people to pin and share items.”

So why would Facebook promote a rival social network? If it doesn't regard them as rivals at all. It would appear that Facebook does not see either Myspace or Pinterest as threats to their huge empire, and this can be explained in a number of ways. Firstly, Facebook has become so huge and powerful (as the fuss around their IPO illustrates), that it seems that they really are the social network, and their position is unchallenged.

Hub Vs Niche

Thus Facebook is evolving into a hub of internet activity, adding apps that allow you to read, listen, play and share your web experience in all different ways, as well as allowing users to login with sites such as Vevo, along with its rumoured interest in acquiring that music service- it's clear that Facebook is seeking to establish itself as a one stop shop for all your web activity.

Related to this is the fact that Pinterest and Myspace recognise that they cannot be Facebook - so they seek to prosper as niche sites, with their own unique features, and gain traffic through the king of the social networks. On top of that, they make nowhere near the amount of money that Facebook does, so they are no threat in that department either.

The Actual Value of Traffic

In fact, all Facebook are facilitating for Myspace and Pinterest is traffic - it's up to the individual sites what they do to turn those visits into profit, as is obvious with Pinterest which, according to the Wall Street Journal, doesn't know how it's going to make money, despite its huge traffic. Its traffic is an untapped resource, leading to referrals for businesses pinned on its site, but with no benefit for Pinterest itself at present.

So it seems there's no challengers to Facebook's throne at present, with Twitter looking set to remain a private company - Facebook are playing their cards right by keeping their ‘enemies' close by driving traffic towards them, traffic that Pinterest and Myspace most likely would not have if it weren't for a harmonious relationship with Facebook. Facebook looks set to reign supreme for the foreseeable future - driving traffic to other sites does nothing to harm its standing, it merely ensures greater engagement on Facebook itself.