I just caught up for a coffee with Nick Love, head of MySpace and IGN Australia. I haven’t been following MySpace closely for a while, so it was interesting to hear how it has repositioned. Here are a few thoughts and pointers from public information.
As it happens AllThingsD yesterday put up an interesting article Trying Out a Revamped Myspace which includes this brief video review – well worth watching:
The essence of the new MySpace strategy is becoming a social content platform for entertainment that complements Facebook, which has long clearly won the social network battle. It now uses Facebook Connect (as well as its own profiles) to identify what people like, and provides a set of personalized content profiles, both for the individual, and around particular musicians, artists, movies, or games.
A recent article on Mashable provided a nice review of MySpace’s New Strategy.
It will focus on engaging a “Generation Y” audience with the entertainment and entertainers that they love. New features like Topic Pages will help users follow their favorite TV shows, music artists, actors and games.
MySpace is also introducing a new type of user: the curator. Users that exhibit a following or expertise in a specific social trend or entertainment topic can gain curator status, which gives them access to an array of tools for facilitating content discovery and leading fans of a specific subculture. The company believes that when users connect with active curators, their engagement with MySpace goes up dramatically. This is one of the things CEO Mike Jones told me during a conversation we had last week about the redesign.
The company is focused on encouraging four core behaviors: discovery, collection, connection and creation. MySpace wants its users to quickly discover new and interesting entertainment content via Topic Pages, recommendations and the newsfeed. It also wants to encourage curators to facilitate this discovery with Topic Pages and Entertainment Hubs.
Connecting fans, curators and entertainers is the third key behavior MySpace wants to foster, while the final behavior, creation, is something users already do with their profiles. MySpace knows that most profiles are hideous abominations of good taste, so it’s encouraging users to switch to the much-cleaner Profile 3.0 design with some hip, artist-designed themes.
This chart of MySpace traffic gives some context:
It doesn’t look pretty. However now that MySpace is repositioning to move out of the path of the bulldozer growth of Facebook, this trend need not continue. More importantly, traffic is definitely not proportional to revenue, with advertising for niche markets priced very differently to generic social media chatter. Losing traffic from idle chatter need not be a great loss.
An earlier article in AdWeek on MySpace’s repositioning looks at some of its initiatives:
Wendy’s this month became the official sponsor of MySpace Music’s Get Close program, a competition that gives fans the chance to see the net’s featured musicians perform live. With creative from The Kaplan Thaler Group, its first contest asked fans to submit videos of their commitment to community improvement for a chance to see John Legend. The program helped push Wendy’s MySpace friend totals over the million mark. It now has a larger fan base there than on Facebook.
Other brands boast similar success stories, particularly when it comes to MySpace weaving advertising with entertainment content in integrated programs. HP products were placed in several episodes of the the social network’s reality series, “Married on MySpace,” and the payoff was that HP has more than 1 million MySpace friends. Coke has attracted over 1 million fans to its “Formula for happiness” campaign that is tied to MySpace’s Secret Shows concert franchise, which allows fans to vote on which cities should host selected bands’ live performances.
Apparently HP went from 143 friends on Facebook to 1.2 million in the space of a few days, overtaking its Facebook fan group, basing the interactions on content. In this and other cases, MySpace is not competing directly with Facebook, but rather providing a social content platform.
Music Romeo, MySpace’s iPad app, plays a personalized music video stream (unfortunately only available in the US). This was created by Australia-based We Are Hunted, tapping their collaborative filtering platform to provide a video music streams based on genre, mood, and trending music. Mashable says:
MySpace Music Video screams Pandora. The parallels are definitely not by accident; this app is designed to be a customizable station for music videos, and on that criterion, it delivers beautifully. It’s simple, it’s elegant and it has more than enough music videos to keep you occupied for hours at a time.
The app is also dynamic. Utilizing algorithmic technology from We Are Hunted, Romeo scans social networks and blogs to see what music is currently trending in order to deliver the most hip and up-to-date music experience possible. The result is an app that takes into account what you like and what’s hot on the web.
Very interestingly, MySpace plans to launch open APIs to its content and related social information, which will allow the creation of websites and apps that provide personalized content.
Of course, even though this social entertainment content platform strategy makes sense, it may not work, and the trendline for MySpace may continue downwards. However given its existing extraordinary music and video assets, as well as music and advertising relationships, there’s a good chance MySpace’s repositioning will pay off and it will carve out a solid space for itself, just somewhat smaller than it used to be.