Like Me? Follow Me.
It was once the most popular social networking site, peaking at over 300 million accounts, and promised to redefine the way in which users interact with music, pop culture, politics and even dating.
Today however the social network has become an online graveyard in rapid decline, desperately trying to hold on to its credibility and historic status as one of the great social networking pioneers.
The good times
Myspace was originally launched to appeal to “Generation Y”, tech savvy teenagers with a clear understanding of how to socialise online. The site quickly grew and became a successful social hub for sharing interests, especially music, with aspiring artists including Lily Allen even crediting her career to Myspace.
Way back in 2005 when, arguably, Myspace was in its prime, dominating global social networking, and Facebook was still in the earliest stages of its development, the site was bought for a record $580 million by News Corp. Murdoch clearly had high aspirations for the site and believed it had a profitable future.
So, what happened?
Although competition from elsewhere certainly had a major role in the fall of Myspace, in particular Facebook, which offered users a fresh and easy alternative, the social network itself should also take a large amount of the blame. I have focused on three key factors which I believe lead Myspace to its unfortunate doom:
1. A lack of innovation
At a first glance there is very little comparison between Myspace and Facebook as a product. Myspace was always condemned as being difficult to master and use. Facebook offered users a site which took only seconds to master, constantly adapting and changing its format and usability to make it easy to share information with friends.
Myspace was also very slow at adopting new technologies such as Ajax, which allowed users to send messages without the need to open a new browser window; it also failed to implement instant messaging and email import as quickly as its competitors, whereas Facebook triumphed on all three.
2. A lack of direction or goal
Last year, Myspace’s chief executive Mike Jones admitted the site was no longer a social network but instead branded it a “social entertainment destination”.
The problem was, Myspace continued to try and appeal to a wide market even when other social networks took to the stage, and rarely rebranded or modified its appearance or usability to accommodate users. Facebook focused on creating a robust platform that allowed developers to build new applications, whereas Myspace did everything themselves.
Finally, in 2011, the site had to be repositioned, as it became obvious that it was never going to compete with the leading social networking websites.
A quick look at Myspace today and you can see their main focus is a social hub for sharing music with a huge push towards sharing playlists and watching artists online. Back in 2008 Musicians Paul McCartney and Guns N’ Roses launched their albums exclusively over Myspace.
3. Too much focus on $
When NewsCorp bought Myspace for an estimated $580 million in 2005 the site had 20 million unique users, however the site failed to make the corporation any profit. The takeover is arguably a major catalyst for its decline. Executives were pressured to make profit from the site immediately and focused more on revenues than user experience.
Last year Myspace was eventually sold for just $35 million.
Is it still going?
While numbers have declined in recent years, Myspace’s rebrand as a social entertainment destination has been rather successful; it is no longer seen as a grungy online pit of Goths, Neo Nazi’s and pornography.
The site now offers a refreshing way to enjoy and share music, competing with much smaller fish in a different pond, such as Vevo and SoundCloud.
Instead of struggling to compete with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, the site is now tied in with both allowing its users to share new music, games and films across all their profiles.
Does Myspace have a future?
Throughout the entire blogpost perhaps I have been rather one sided towards the negative aspects of Myspace, portraying it as an instant failure when in reality the site helped revolutionise the way in which we interact and share information with each other online.
I must admit I never really used Myspace, however I’m sure my account is still out there somewhere. I was always put off by its complicated layout and limited usability. By the time Facebook began to dominate, Myspace failed to adapt and change to compete against a social network which offered users an innovative and simple way to interact.
However I think Myspace has taken the right steps towards re-establishing itself as a social entertainment destination and turning to its original success of promoting and sharing music.