By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer
In late 2003, several employees from the internet marketing group, eUniverse (now Intermix Media) launched a small side project. It took the team of developers 10 days to build the social network, MySpace. After its launch, eUniverse leveraged its over 20 million users to accelerate the growth of MySpace’s user-base. Shortly thereafter, MySpace started gaining momentum. In July 2005, MySpace was growing exponentially — soaring 1,400% from June 2004 to June 2005 to 17.2 million unique monthly visitors, according to comScore. At the height of MySpace’s popularity, the social networking site was purchased by New Corp in a $580 million acquisition of Intermix in July 2005.
Only three short years after MySpace’s historic acquisition, the social network began losing steam. While MySpace was in the limelight, its college rival, Facebook began growing at an exponential rate. MySpace’s crown as the king of social media was ceded to Facebook in December 2008 — Facebook with 59.7 and MySpace with 59.5 million users, according to Compete.com. Since that historic juncture, MySpace has made a steady declined while Facebook has grown to unprecedented heights. As of September 2009 Facebook more than doubled MySpace’s 50.2 million unique monthly users with 124.6 million users. Facebook offers much more transparency — a defining characteristic that has set it apart from MySpace.
Analyzing MySpaces’ rise and fall, we can develop key take aways that might help you re-think your online strategy:
Keep it simple
MySpace started as a venue to share music. The social network now caters to nearly every new social media trend — creating an overwhelming, unfocused environment. Google was able to surpass Yahoo in search partly because of its simplistic design — making it appealing to non-digtally savvy internet users. MySpace should go back to this simplistic model and eliminate features that are unimportant to its core users.
A real name can go a long way. Pseudonyms create a level of secrecy and ambiguity that makes it difficult for users to find and share with each other. Facebook and LinkedIn have built authentic communities through real names from real people. Facebook has added a layer of transparency across user profiles, advertising and design that has made it so appealing
Focus on your Core Audience
MySpace has tried to pander to an array of internet demographics. The social networking site should go back to its roots — music. Eliminate everything that is not music-related to build a core audience of passionate music fans. Though such a move would cause many users to drop the site, it would grow a solid following that can then grow from there.