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In an age where social media have become nearly ubiquitous, one would find it difficult to imagine a once prominent social media site going under completely. With sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others experiencing a meteoric rise to fame (with Facebook even getting an entire film dedicated to its unique story and that of its creator, Mark Zuckerberg), how could Myspace have possibly failed? What was wrong with it? Facebook, perhaps the most popular social media site of all, has not completely cornered the market. That is, other sites are in fact being used and used often. Twitter, for example, has become extremely popular among celebrities and other prominent figures in a way that Facebook has not. Thus, it is possible to succeed in the social media game despite the existence of mighty Facebook. So, what happened to Myspace?
According to a story in Bloomberg BusinessWeek describing the rise and fall of the once popular site, Myspace’s gradual decline in popularity and strength as a brand was the result of “mismanagement, a flawed merger, and countless strategic blunders.” However, some argue that Myspace’s failure was inevitable, and that its initial design concepts vis-a-vis Facebook’s pushed people away. As someone who briefly (and I mean briefly) used Myspace, it was clear that it wasn’t built for the long haul. In fact, I can’t name a single friend who still uses Myspace. Apparently, Myspace was once considered “cool,” though, back in 2003 when it first got its start:
It’s difficult to remember now, but MySpace was once considered cool. When it started in 2003, it was largely devoted to indie music, with bands joining to create profiles for themselves and circulate their music.
Unfortunately, this niche was never focused on or capitalized upon in any significant manner, and Myspace slowly ceded ownership of the social media market to Facebook, which began its rise to fame a couple of years after Myspace’s inception. Myspace’s commitment to clutter (as opposed to the “vanilla” approach that has helped to make Facebook successful) in the form of HTML graphics and unsolicited music blasting upon clicking through to a new page has turned off a number of demographics, and as traffic and popularity has declined, the hammer of economics has fallen upon hundreds of jobs with Myspace. News Corp, the owners of Myspace, is apparently trying to sell the company for a minuscule $20 million, making it worth a startling 3,500 times less than Facebook (worth approximately $70 billion).
The story of Myspace is perhaps one for all businesses to look to regarding what not to do. Myspace focused on its quarterly bottom line, Facebook had an eye for simplicity mixed with careful innovation, not to mention a powerful marketing campaign that has made it difficult to go anywhere on the Internet without seeing the opportunity to connect via Facebook (e.g., the article linked above gives readers the option to log into Facebook in order to comment). It’s all about knowing your audience and supporting your brand with widespread marketing and calculated innovation that actually improves your brand. Unfortunately for Myspace, its leaders did not possess a strong grasp of these principles, and Myspace will soon go the way of the dinosaur.
Contains information from CNNMoney.