Some sites and services go on and on forever. Others are like shooting stars; a brief flash of light before they descend in flames. Twitter should avoid the same mistakes this lot made.

Friends Reunited

At its peak, in 2005, Friends Reunited was a five year old social media pioneer with 15 million members chatting with old school pals. By 2007, after a change of ownership, the site's growth had stalled significantly - with a drop in active usage of 47 per cent.

Friends reunited

UNWANTED FRIENDS: You have three unread messages from people you didn't even like when you last saw them fifteen years ago. Would you like to make a WeeMe?

The service's mistake? Other, better sites were offering for free what Friends Reunited forced punters to pay for. That, and the site design remained resolutely Web 1.0. One of those flaws has since been fixed - membership is now free - but Facebook now dominates the space.

The Lesson for Twitter: Be free at the point of access.

Friendster

Another early social media experiment, Friendster peaked in 2004 when it was ranked by Neilsen Online as the most visited site of its kind. In April of that year, MySpace toppled it from that spot. With friend networks, internal messaging and user profiles, its influence on Facebook is clear.

Friendster

INTRUSIVE: Advertising became a bit of a problem for Friendster's userbase

Unfortunately, in the years following this peak, the site adopted increasingly intrusive advertising strategies, with pop-ups and banner ads. A refocused Friendster remains very popular in Asia though, and was recently acquired, overhauled and relaunched by a Malaysian based company.

The Lesson for Twitter: Don't spam your users.

MySpace

What is MySpace? A social networking site? A music download service? A place to host video or tout your nascent stand-up comedy career or play games? Once the online destination for wired teenagers, MySpace has had its moment.

MySpace

MOVING ON: Concentrating on the teen and tweenie markets, MySpace became unfashionable when its first wave of users moved on and their Mums moved in...

The service announced layoffs of 30 per cent of its workforce in 2009 after being taken over by News Corp. Its primary purpose among users now is music promotion, but instead of fully capitalising on this good fortune, MySpace continues to be a jack of all trades.

The Lesson for Twitter: Focus on your unique selling point.

ICQ

If there's one start up story Twitter should learn from, it's ICQ. In 1996, it was one of the first instant messaging clients around and swiftly became popular. Current owners Time Warner claim there are still around 100 million accounts registered.

ICQ

Compare that with Microsoft's Messenger service, which has over 330 million active users. And there's the rub. ICQ were first, but Microsoft nipped in soon after and did it better. As they so often do.

The Lesson for Twitter: Being first is not enough.

Netscape

Poor Netscape. Poor, poor Netscape. It went from being one of the web's best known brands to nothing more than an also-ran in the space of a few short years. Its flagship web browser Navigator was acquired along with the Netscape name in 1998 by AOL.

Netscape

DEPOSED: Once it was King of the web, now Netscape's just a footnote in the history of the browser wars - and a generic AOL portal page

A long gestation period for Netscape 6 allowed Microsoft's Internet Explorer to rise to prominence in its place. After a series of increasingly ineffectual attempts to exploit the brand, AOL announced it was stopping support for all Netscape products in March 2008.

The Lesson for Twitter: Capitalise on your name while it's still known.

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