Facebook can learn some important lessons from MyLife on many things related to its social network. They can take a look at the MyLife audience, an older user base, and attempt to understand what kind of behavior goes on with a closer knit, older community. They can also learn something from the promotional campaigns of MyLife to get new and loyal members. And last but not least, they can ‘steal’ some of MyLife design concept to Facebook platform better. How? Below is all the information you need 🙂
On a first glance, Facebook and MyLife seem like they’re 2 social networks with similar functionality; you can add people, send them messages etc. Yet, they attract a VERY difference audience according to Quantcast:
As you can see, MyLife attracts older users (even the founder said this) primarily while Facebook has younger ones. No surprise here; what was the last time you saw 50% of someone’s Facebook friend list to be over 35?
These two sites are very different in terms of the audience they attract because they focus on two totally different activities people are trying to do.
On Facebook, people go primarily there for entertainment purposes, to stay in touch with their existing friends, play games, maybe find and add an old classmate if they accidental find any.
On Mylife, however, people go with a clear purpose: They want to FIND someone. They want to reconnect with an old classmate, find a relative or a military friend. And after they find him, probably stay in touch with him as well. Facebook could really take a few tips from the simplicity of MyLife’s interface to connect with my classmate groups or work groups. Their new Groups feature seems to address this pretty well.
What about Classmates?
B the way, some might expected to mention Classmates here, Classmates is a direct competitor to MyLife, however, I haven’t seen them changing that much comparing to Mylife who are progressing in traffic, they already surpassed Classmates traffic last month according to Compete.com:
What are the lessons Facebook can learn from MyLife and change some things in their interface & promotion in order to make use of this opportunity?
Facebook Can Start Promoting Themselves as The Place to go And Reconnect with Friends/Relatives
MyLife does this aggressively with AdWords. Facebook have started doing it too. Let’s compare how much effort those 2 companies actually spend on AdWords (I’ve used SemRush.com data to compare the number of ads each company has on AdWords, SemRush has their own index of the web so they’re pretty accurate in this):
Almost the same, with MyLife having a small advantage. Interesting eh? A company that is 10 times smaller than Facebook is advertising very aggressively on paid search to get new members. MyLife even goes right into Facebook face and is number 1 in AdWords for ‘Facebook search” 😀
Anyway, Facebook have already started doing SOME advertising in this field with ads on finding friends/classmates like this one:
That’s okay and everything, but not enough. Let’s focus, for now, on what Facebook can do to better target people who are trying to find their classmates.
#1 The ad leads to the Facebook front page
Yes, the home page. Nothing is mentioned on the homepage that’s even closely related to finding classmates. Compare this to the MyLife landing page (they also advertise for finding classmates):
If a user looking for classmates and lands on the Facebook home page and this page, on which one you think he is more likely to register? I would say Mylife (Facebook has the brand advantage, but I still think this landing page will trump Facebook home page)
Facebook needs to do a better job with creating customized landing pages for these PPC campaigns.
Another thing is, the description in the Facebook ads is “Find&Connect with friends on Facebook. Sign up today!” This is another “me too” ad. Facebook can put some impressive data into its description. What about “500+ million users. Is your classmate one of them?”. The thing that attracts attention is the number. No social networks currently can offer this impressive number of users (so they don’t advertise it, of course). But Facebook can. They can also mention the fact they are 100% free (if you want to contact people, you have to pay on MyLife & Classmates).
What can Facebook ‘steal’ from MyLife in terms of design/content
One thing MyLife has is an organized way to put your school. On Facebook, you often encounter duplicates when you want to enter your school under ‘Edit your profile’
On MyLife, however, this isn’t the case:
You can enter the state, the county and THEN the school. No duplicates.
Now, it will be harder for Facebook to implement this feature for international users. But it can start with US users for a start and see what happens. They can then use this data to suggest people to find their classmates and possibly use it in AdWords campaigns so they can create a box where people can ‘search by school’ much more accurately.
Another thing Facebook can focus on is on finding people by email. Did you know that if you’re logged in you can enter an email address in the search box and find the profile of the person who registered under that email? 500 million users = 500 million emails. There are TONS of people searching other people by their email (by using keywords like ‘reverse email lookup) and Facebook can try targeting them as well. But first, they have to start by emphasizing more that they offer this by a separate ‘search by email’ page or a box. MyLife does this pretty well:
Overall, Facebook can do a much better job of capturing people who are looking for other people online. They’re their perfect audience, older people and looking not just to find but stay in touch with that someone.