Move over Tom! Oh, hi, Mark!
Long before you were on Facebook, there was a site that many of us had a space on that was just for us. It was appropriately named MySpace, and everyone quickly jumped on board to have one. In the spring of 2008, MySpace was the top social media site in the world. In April of that same year, Facebook grabbed the lead and never looked back. Over the next three years, Myspace would lose over forty million unique visitors per month, lose both of its co-founders, and lay off most of their staff.
How did this happen so fast?
First things first, it’s important to know why and how MySpace started. In 2003, MySpace was created by people in the entertainment industry, not by technology experts and therefore could not innovate at the pace that they needed to compete. However, MySpace was greatly influential in the music industry. In late 2003, Fin Leavell encoded his music into a myspace profile, becoming the first MySpace musician. Shortly after MySpace was sold to Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News and 20th Century Fox, they launched a record label: MySpace Records. The record label was made to discover unknown talent on MySpace Music. Some well-known singers such as Lily Allen, Owl City, Hollywood Undead, Sean Kingston, and Arctic Monkeys rose to fame through myspace.
Although Rupert’s idea of incorporating a record label with MySpace was a smart business move, Rupert had an old school way of thought and is said to be a major contributor to the fall of MySpace. Critics claim that MySpace failed to execute the product development by not copying Facebook in design quickly after Facebook launched.
Facebook let third-party developers create apps on the site in 2007 while MySpace held tight to the notion that it would be able to create its own products. This strategy slowed down the process tremendously for MySpace to stay on top of the ever changing market. The former head of MySpace, Mike Jones, has stated that MySpace put up barriers to user enjoyment by forcing members to use anonymous pseudonyms in the place of their real identities, where Facebook encouraged members to use their real names.
Once Facebook took off, MySpace decided to give up on its social media leadership dreams and narrowed its focus to being a social entertainment destination. However, this has not been proven as a successful venture either. Many other websites have followed MySpace’s lead by creating music streaming sites such as Bandcamp which allows musicians to get paid for their music by allowing consumers to buy tracks or albums online.
When it comes to social media and website development, there are six lessons that we can learn from MySpace’s failure.
- Authenticity is important
- The success of Facebook and the corresponding demise of MySpace is partially due to real names adding an aura of legitimacy while removing a layer of anonymous creepiness.
- Standardization is better than free-range
- Facebook allows minimal customization regarding overall layout, look and feel. This feature has proven to be successful.
- Mobile is critical
- MySpace was slow to adopt mobile technology, and the lack of MySpace in your pocket is partly responsible for their decline.
- Think beyond your website
- There has never been any significant effort to distribute MySpace broadly across the web by implementing it into other sites. Facebook has made it so that a user can use their Facebook login for a multitude of apps, making registering for new accounts incredibly simple and making Facebook almost a necessity.
- Be business-friendly
- MySpace has always been user-focused rather than business-focused and has rarely created features specifically for business.
- Don’t sell too early
- MySpace made the biggest mistake by selling prematurely in 2006.
Facebook seems to have real staying power for the time being because of their highly adaptive nature and versatility and friendliness in the ever growing internet world. Here at Velocity, we pride ourselves in staying ahead of social media trends and implementing ingredients for success in our marketing strategies. We understand the importance of not only monitoring where social media platforms succeed but also where they fail. If you are in need of social media experts to take your brand to the next level, you know where to go!