I chose the article MySpace Crowded Out by James Thomson as the
basis for my first entry not only for its relevance to digital marketing but also because I can’t lie; I still have a fondness for MySpace.
I was an avid user between the years of 2005 and 2008. This maybe had been because I was the perfect age for the social networking site. I was 18 in 2005 and it was a large part if my social life. Where else was I going to demonstrate how witty, knowledgeable about music, creative and most of all attractive (MySpace photo taken from a high angle predominately of my fringe) I was to all my friends/ acquaintances/ prospective dates?
By the time I migrated to Facebook I was already in my early 20s and my dependence on social networks for actual social interaction had waned.
Facebook didn’t have the same personal spark for me; it was more about
functionality of keeping touch with old friends. However regardless of my reluctance, my friends were on Facebook now and not a lot was happening on MySpace other than spam and music. So I left.
I think that this migration from people like me, people who really still liked the product, demonstrates the biggest element of social networks. They rely more on crowds, the amount of people in the network, rather than product itself. This is at the heart of what Thomson is saying about MySpace.
According to Thomson MySpace was an enormous network whose monthly users were even with Facebook at 70 million two years ago and four years ago its projected worth was US$12 billion. Now it falls in the ‘obsolete’ bin with other social networks now laid to rest such as Friendster and Bebo.
Why? Innovate or Die. MySpace failed to progress and keep in line with the growing demands on the users. Former Facebook executive Sean Parker claims that if they had of just copied the innovations of Facebook, MySpace could have plugged the leakages for people migrating away. This may be true. However Thomson argues social networks through their very nature need crowds. We only use the social network the people we know use because it would be really boring if we were the only
ones there. Thomson claims that the product itself is less relevant. That “no matter how good the platform and features of a social network are, without a crowd to communicate with, a network cannot succeed”
I agree that MySpace would ultimately loose to Facebook because of the strength of the larger network. However I believe that MySpace still had one major strength: music. In the height of its popularity, MySpace has been credited as launching many artists’ careers such as Lily Allen.
Artists from nobodies to global superstars were putting music on MySpace to stream to for free. Listeners came in their droves, particularly to listen to the nobodies. Even after Facebook started to win the users race, MySpace music was still serving this function. Facebook was slow to develop a music player that was as user friendly and functional as MySpace’s version. I know I was still returning to MySpace not to use the social network, but to listen to music. Many emerging artists relied heavily on the MySpace Music account for promotion and often ranked highly
when the band was put into a search engine. However, now that reliance is dwindling with the rising popularity of sites such as Sound Cloud.
In my opinion, MySpace should have implemented a system making it compulsory to be a member to listen to more than 30 seconds of a track to ensure that members. This would get people not just signing up, but also logging in regularly.
As Thomson emphasises, popularity of a social network depends on
crowds and MySpace was losing theirs. Now MySpace seem to be capitalising on their strength in music and re-positioned themselves, not as much as a social network but as a ‘Social Entertainment’ site and trying to regenerate itself as a business.
Either way, MySpace lost at a social networking site. According to Thomson “a lack of innovation may have sowed the seeds for MySpace’s downfall, but Facebook’s momentum – built arguably more on the movement of the crowd than any innovative thing Facebook or MySpace did or didn’t do”.
Thompson, J, 2011, ‘Myspace Crowded Out’, viewed 25 August 2011, http://www.smartcompany.com.au/entrepreneur-watch/30062001-myspace-crowded-out.html.