MySpace: R.I.P or maybe just life support? Thoughts on keeping your brand relevant.
24 June 2009
There are many examples of once loved brand giants that maybe were a bit complacent, misjudged impact of new consumer trends and in turn lost relevance with their youth audience. Ahhh, those “fickle” youth…As we know 20/20 hindsight is a bitch…
What stronger case in point is my once beloved MySpace. In 2005 it was darling of the web and a pioneer. Today, literally, it has had to face a remarkable reversal of fortune, marked by announcing that it is conducting its second round of layoffs in a week to a total reduction of nearly 30% of its staff.
From my own account I was loyal to MySpace since early 2004 when I initially joined, but when my friends almost exclusively migrated to Facebook, I found eventually I spent less and less time anywhere else. By 2008 I rarely logged on to MySpace. Over time it appears the site has evolved to become more about discovery – discovery of music, new friends, etc. Perhaps due to the self-branding options. None of things I ever really used it for in the first place. I wonder for how many this is the case?
But this story is larger than me (feign surprise). It is influence that other social networks are begining to have on the world at large which makes MySpace seem to be losing its relevance…fast. To put it in perspective, look at the other social sites and their instrumental role surrounding the recent election and since protests in Iran. Iranian opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousav has been blasting out messages as Facebook posts (see Mashable post here), YouTube has proven to be citizen journalist hot bed for raw footage you weren’t seeing on network news (see another Mashable post here), and Twitter has become a tool of the revolution (see #iranelection trending topic here).…
MySpace on the other hand? Struggling to keep its head above water, and all at a time when social media has never been more powerful.
So where did it go wrong? Well we can be sure that it is oversimplifying the issue to say they are losing relevance to its teen market and so are struggling. There have been major catalysts outside of any consumer facing issues which escalated the process. However stats reveal the user base and page views have declined, and the younger rival Facebook has overtaken. That I would argue is related to its core product/service offering losing its appeal. More concerning for them, in the US where MySpace has reigned supreme, according to recent Habbo research (June, 2009), Facebook continues to grow in popularity up to third place from fifth in 2008. Globally the research also finds YouTube and Facebook already outrank MySpace as teens top Web destinations, MySpace appearing at #4 on the list.
I guess the moral of my story is if you are marketing to a youth audience, never get too comfortable with #1 status. Keep asking yourself how you are going to stay fresh, are you still delivering to your audience’s needs. Try new things. Most importantly LISTEN. It doesn’t take a futurist to to predict what your audience is already asking for.
Lloyd Grove states in a Daily Beast article titled, “MySpace’s Dizzying Fall“, while sure it has been an incredible drop from “hot” to “on life support” for MySpace, it is possible that “neither diagnosis is true”, or perhaps both are. I would like to agree with that and extend – we should never underestimate the opportunity to inject energy into a brand and refresh it back to life. It wouldn’t be the first time innovation and change has brought new life to a fallen giant (Apple’s iPod; Nintendo’s Wii?).