I was intrigued by a stat I heard on the most recent Brand Bandits podcast, that Facebook had finally overtaken MySpace in May for the number of unique visitors. This surprised me – not because I thought MySpace was dominant, but because I thought Facebook had done that months ago!
These were ComScore numbers being cited, Google Website Trends seems to show that Facebook actually overtook last Fall:
Either way, however, I think most people would agree that MySpace has a serious problem on its hands.
Five or six years ago, they were an item. Both former Mickey Mouse Club members. Both attracting legions of teenage fans. Heavily managed ‘brands’, Britney as a pop star, Timberlake as a member of N*Sync.
You wouldn’t have bet a lot of money on either one becoming respected, or perhaps even still relevant today. And yet…
Justin Timberlake, amazingly, seems to have re-crafted himself and is something of a 21 Century Renaissance man. A hugely praised stint as host of Saturday Night Live . Cred-building collaborations with top producers like Timbaland and Will.i.am, and well received acting roles in Indie films. Oh, and he hosted the ESPN awards, dated a lot of beautiful women and impressed with his golf skills at the PGA Pro-AM. You get the picture.
So, how does this apply to MySpace?
Well, right now MySpace is Britney and Justin 7 years ago. No-one can predict which path it will take – burn out and fade to irrelevance, or reinvented and loved by everyone.
Despite the beating it may or not be taking, MySpace still attracted 115.7 million unique visitors in May, just a million or so behind Facebook. It is still a big brand name. It has the financial clout of News Corp behind it, and it drives a ton of traffic to Google, Youtube, Flickr and many other of the top sites.
In other words, it’s not dead yet.
How to Save MySpace
Simply, MySpace needs to reinvent itself a la Justin Timberlake:
- Just like N*Sync, MySpace is, or appears to be, aimed at kids. The gaudy, blinking backgrounds and embedded tunes are like a particularly bad Geocities page from 1997. They need to be overhauled, desperately. Facebook has shown the way that profiles can be made personal with photos, interests and so on, while keeping the headache-inducing extras to a minimum.
- Stop the Spam! I’m sure that a large number of people jumped ship due to the increasing amount of spam that was filling up inboxes. Combating bogus accounts, and only allowing mail from verified people would go a long way to helping.
- Be like Timberlake, focus on what you’re good at! Music, events, live shows, etc. For all it’s growth, Facebook is doing a pretty terrible job of promoting its Fan pages. Can you even find them in the new look? MySpace, on the other hand, is still the best place for new bands to demo songs, grab fans and keep them interested. In the last couple of years singers as diverse as Lily Allen, The Black Kids and Glasvegas have all picked up record deals after building a fan base on MySpace. Push this – let people promote sports teams, politicians, movies, and other things that people get passionate about.
- Grow up! When your parent organization, News Corp, chooses your main rival to promote their news channel, you have an image problem. Fox News wants to be seen as serious. So they *don’t* want to be seen in the same neighborhood as kids with Scarface backgrounds and blaring music. Take back some control. Be the adult and set limits for the children.
Almost everyone I talk to is rooting for MySpace to fail, as they prefer Facebook. I’d rather that we had two strong competitors in the field, so that we don’t have another Google-like near monopoly. I think there’s room for both Facebook and MySpace…they just need to figure out how to get their sexy back!