MySpace, a founding father of the social media movement, suffered a major decline in membership from the 2008 to present resulting from a range of poor decisions. It was soon overtaken and surpassed by Facebook which had the opportunity to learn from the former social media mogul’s mistakes. There is a lot of speculation as to why MySpace experienced such a massive exodus, but it is no mystery.
One of the major reasons for MySpace’s failure was lost control of their advertisements in the pursuit of monetization, creating a very unpleasant user experience ridden with ads. This is not to say that Facebook isn’t trying to monetize. But if you look at their designated ad space, located on the right hand side, you’ll notice that the advertisements are small, subtle and do not interfere with experiencing the site. Facebook ads are also targeted, meaning they populate with ads that are relevant to your needs or interests, based on your web search trends.
On MySpace, ad placement lacked subtlety, and many times, taste. The sheer amount of ads made the site slower and more difficult to use. Spammers were incessant; vandalizing innocent user profile pages with unwanted comments and unauthorized advertisements. Unlike Facebook, MySpace allowed raw HTML coding which gave the ability to embed malicious scripts within the page. In layman’s terms, security and browser stability were heavily compromised while using the platform.
The second major reason for the MySpace decline is they rarely evolved the service; it became stagnant and boring. Long-time Facebook users will witness several new layout and interface changes every year, put in place to improve user experience. One of Facebook’s most obvious and more recent changes was the introduction of the “Timeline” feature which made re-visiting particular years in your history possible in a single click. On the old layout, reverting to past years would take several clicks of the “see older posts” button. This could take a very long time depending on your level of Facebook activity. A few other examples of evolutionary features on Facebook since its launch are status upgrades, the integration of third party apps like games, “like” buttons, marketplace and mobile integration. These added features make Facebook more engaging, universal, and fun!
What do we learn from MySpace’s decline? That it’s important to be an innovator; to constantly evolve and grow. It’s important to serve your users/customers and accommodate their needs above all else. Could Facebook meet the same fate as MySpace?
Well, we may not have to wait to find out. Could it be that MySpace truly learned from it’s own foibles? Rebranded by a Timberlake-driven musical look and feel, it seemed in early 2013 that the missing caterpillar of social media was about to reemerge from a chrysalis to re-captivate fans with sparkling wings and effortless flights of harmonious fancy. A hesitant, albeit interested, anticipatory crecendo of “Oh, MySpace is back,” began to echo through the halls (at least the virtual halls of tech blog institutions.)
February came and went with many offering opinions. Some said “masterful,” others, “innovative,” while others reserved judgement while keeping a key eye on the user. Then, March and April came and went. Now it’s May. How do you like that new feature they just introduced? You know the one that allows you to … nevermind.
Sure, some patience might be necessary to see ground being gained in what is surely a colossal case of re-branding. But don’t you think the needle should have moved even just a little bit since then? Just a little?
While we still chuckle about the struggles of Google+ we never really give up on it, because Google is, well, Google – a Company that we seemingly cannot live without. So, we wait until they make good with their social media efforts. And if they don’t, that’ll likely be okay with us too.
But what about New MySpace? Well, say for example Google shuts down Google+ and then re-introduces it with the name “New Google+” after a significant time away? Exactly. Are those crickets we hear? And THEY’RE Google …
That being said, no reason to pen New MySpace’s obitiuary quite yet. I mean, would anybody bother to read it?
I guess the lesson here is simple, “once you’ve got it up, keep it up,” at least in the world of technology. With so much success and innovation to choose from, audiences have little time, and even less interest, to share with old friends who really don’t even look the same as they did in “the good old days.” The new days are fresher and a lot more interesting.
Res Firma Mitescere Nescit
Update: Since this article was published, it has been a year. Find out the state of MySpace, today.