Rumors are flying.
“MySpace is getting a complete redesign.”
“MySpace is getting bought out.”
“MySpace is losing money.”
When rumors like these start flying, it’s normally a bad sign, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. The Social Network’s meteoric rise and subsequent decline in users to Facebook has created these rumors, but there are still strengths that can be exploited. If they are going to make it, they will need to make some changes, but more importantly, they will need to rethink their focus and reimpose their will through marketing-guided changes.
Instead of making it the easiest platform to spam and game, they need to appeal to their current best demographic, teens, pre- and post-, and create ways for them to stay with MySpace instead of defecting as they get older to Facebook or someone else. More importantly, they MUST expand to the business sector. Sounds ridiculous, I know, when you consider the current state of the company and the growing disdain towards its inner-workings. Stay with me while I explain.
First, the teens, pre- and post-. As the young grow up, many will with limited doubts migrate to Facebook. Call it graduation. If MySpace will create divisions that will compartmentalize the different age groups, it would be possible to have subdomains to host the profiles. For example, kids.myspace.com, teens.myspace.com, college.myspace.com, etc. Their profiles would follow them through each step, and they would be able to add new features, create better, more complicated themes, etc. This would help to keep them on board for the long haul.
Critics will say that anyone, regardless of age, can join these. With a network as large as MySpace, this is unavoidable, regardless of grouping format. The advantage will be that those who are genuinely in the appropriate group will be more engaged with their own age. Will preteens join college groups? Yes. Will middle-age creeps join youthful groups? Yes. Identity masking is happening anyway. MySpace can work on that end of their problem. I’m just looking to show how to keep the members as they grow.
Now, onto the business focus. This is the Internet. More importantly, this is Web 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, whatever you want to dub it currently. Even with the onslaught of new websites and social networks entering the market, the demand is still outpacing the supply. Businesses are “going social” with no clear direction as to which way to do it.
Companies are demanding a platform to market their products, and while Facebook is the best gig in town for this, they are still limited by the fact that not everyone knows about them. It’s still relatively new, and if you were to poll a thousand business owners (not in a tech field) about which name they know, most will still recognize MySpace over Facebook.
If MySpace can redesign their product AND redirect their marketing efforts, perhaps even soliciting with a true sales force, they can take advantage of the limited credibility they still have. Granted, the credibility is based upon ignorance, but still, credibility is credibility. The checks are all cashable.
I propose a very simple, low cost (not free, as free can sometimes imply no value) solution for companies to enter the social web with little of not effort on their part. If MySpace would offer business marketing services that would include other social media arenas such as YouTube and Flickr, they can succeed for a long time. It wouldn’t be a hard sale: describe Google Universal Search, show it in practice at Ask.com, and show how people are getting ads brought to them in lieu of going after or searching for the data and products they need.
Business owners would jump through hoops and fork over credit card numbers in bulk. That is the only way to fix MySpace for long-term success.
The article linked to below from mashable.com takes the rumors of a MySpace.com make-over and turns it into a soapbox from which to talk about the corporate evils within the organization and regarding the functionality and design. We’ll leave that to Mr. Hopkins for now. Mr. Hopkins Story on Mashable