Nettby, the social network run by Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang, is to close early next year. Launched in September 2006, it reached its peak in 2008, when it had 400,000 active users per week and more than 300 million page views, reported John Einar Sandvand, a Norwegian editor who blogs at Betatales.com. In a market of 4,5 million people, that is not insignificant. It was valued by its owners, the Schibsted Media Group, at around $31 million.
Originally, while Facebook, which also launched in Norway 2006, attracted many adult users in the country, Nettby was popular among teenagers. And by the end of 2008, said Nettby CEO Rune Røsten, three out of four teenagers had signed up to VG's service. However, Facebook took off among young people in early 2009 and Nettby has seen a steady decline since February of that year.
"The demise of this social community illustrates how hard it is for local players to compete with the global giants, like Facebook," said Sandvand. Today, 58% of Norwegians use Facebook on a regular basis, he said.
"The demise of this social community illustrates how hard it is for local players to compete with the global giants," Sandvand wrote. Danish teenagers have also abandoned their more local social network Arto, in favour of Facebook, research at the New Media Days 2010 conference showed. Arto is now defunct.
A few years ago, media players thought that they might be able to create their own social offerings. Now, their best option seems to be to give in and connect with Facebook.
Facebook's popularity seems to know no bounds. Having begun life as a limited network for university students, it now accounts for one of of four page views in the US and 10 per cent of all Internet visits. It is great for news publishers in the sense that with the right strategy, it can function as a free PR machine, allowing them to easily push their stories and interact with their readers, but it does not give them the control that their own network would.