It's been fairly interesting watching what Facebook and Myspace have been doing to retain members / attract new members / increase overall usage of their sites now that social media seems to finally be reaching a peak. At least, if it hasn't peaked yet, it's growth is certainly slowing down.
This week marked two developments aimed at keeping social networking fresh and interesting. The first of these is the launch of Myspace Latino. Apparently, someone just told all of the major social networking sites that there are rather a lot of Latinos in America. Add to this the fact that they tend to be early adopters of new technology and use various social media much more often than the average consumer, and you have a pretty good reason for social networking sites to bend over backwards trying to reach them.
Myspace Latino is an attempt to create a bilingual community for it's 9.7 million latino users. The site features eight new communities focused on entertainment, fashion and celebrity, music, nightlife, soccer, events, and news. Several Hispanic and mainstream groups and media outlets, including the Spanish Broadcasting System, the Spanish version of Billboard, Gibson Guitars, McDonald's, and Sprint Nextel, have partnered with MySpace to deliver content and promote activities. For the launch of the new service, they're putting on a show, featuring Latino artists Tego Calderon, Circo, and Locos por Juana.
Facebook launched a Spanish-language version of it's site two months ago, so we'll have to see if this kind of community targeting catches on with consumers.
The second major development is the release of Facebook Chat. The new tool is essentially a messenger the likes of AIM that sits on the bottom of your browser and lets you talk to your Facebook friends in real time. Right now it's only open to Ivy League networks, but it will be slowly opening up to everyone soon enough. Sadly, unlike Myspace's big announcement, they don't seem to have rolled out the application with a giant concert. :-(
It seems to fit well into the Facebook brand: it's already entirely centered around communication with friends, and since you don't have to set up a buddy list or install anything, it could just lead to people keeping Facebook open all day long. It could also mean trouble for traditional chat clients, and offer competition for the AOL + Bebo team up that happened a while back (if AOL ever does anything with its latest acquisition, which, knowing AOL, it probably won't), and the relatively recent Myspace Messenger.
Stay tuned to see what these crazy sites do to stay relevant next!