Posts tagged: MySpace

MySpace: the Web 2.0 Victim of Innovators Dilemma.

Image representing MySpace as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

There’s been a lot of talk about the massive layoffs and restructuring happening at MySpace. While among social media elites MySpace has become a bit of a joke I wanted to take a minute to reflect back on an old friend.

I’ve never been all that impressed with Facebook. MySpace taught me about the power of social networks.MySpace taught me about the power of combining online and offline marketing. MySpace gave me outages, vanity URL’s and most of the functionality we enjoy today, long before Twitter and Facebook. But as the Web shifted to real time MySpace wasn’t ready to respond.

To understand where MySpace is and why you need to understand what got them here. Because I’m the dork that I am I have been on MySpace for about 7 years. Back when Tom only had a few thousand friends back when they were the 2nd largest social network behind Friendster.

Ironically the reason Friendster lost the #1 spot was customer backlash over “fake” accounts. Bands or groups that set up accounts were deleted by Friendster for TOS violations. MySpace said, we don’t care what you do with an account just set one up.  What resulted was thousands of local bands on stage telling all their fans to check out their MySpace page. This was the best free, viral WOM.

I even used MySpace as the primary website for the skate shop I owned in Vegas. All the kids I wanted to reach were already there. It was free and provided better functionality than any website I could have built. In one regards MySpace became a social version of GeoCities. As a small local business it became my #1 marketing asset. It drove tons of traffic to events (we used to do snowboarding and wakeboarding competitions in our parking lot).

The MySpace team was smart and started doing local MySpace party’s in various major markets. MySpace members even started holding their own MySpace parties. (Can anyone say twetup?)

This resulted in yet to be seen astronomical growth. The technology was not cutting edge. Basic php Web design. This lead to constant outages (ala Twitter) constantly re-architecting and rebuilding but through it all the fans stayed with it. Twitter didn’t exist and Facebook was still closed to anyone without a college email address.

So what drove MySpace’s success were:

  • Customizable Site with vanity URL’s
  • Customized free social Web pages
  • Bands (and then entertainment as a whole)

What are the biggest complaints about MySpace

  • Fake accounts (aka spam)
  • Ugly ass designs
  • Too many ads.

The music piece has never been fully realized. MySpace was in a position to make having a music label completely irrelevant. They had the potential to create broad discovery and distribution at almost zero cost. Thus disrupting one of the largest financial pillars of their parent company. The one area they could have executed on was stunted by the company that owned them (kind of makes you wonder the real intentions behind the acquisition).

But at the end of it all MySpace suffered from a classic case of Innovators Dilemma. What made them a huge success is exactly what left them open to attack. But even after all of this if you really want to know what’s wrong with MySpace just look at the bellow screen shots. This is what I see when I log in to my accounts.

New Comm Biz » Twitter Craze Feels Like MySpace Back in the Day

New Comm Biz » Facebook Reality Check

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Despite the Promise of Social Networks Local Businesses Struggle with Marketing ROI

pushing social with print. #thefixx
Image by Tac Anderson via Flickr

I have long felt that social media was grossly underutilized by local businesses. Unlike most corporate social media efforts local businesses have the ability to solidify Online relationships with real life relationships.

Twitter seems to be breaking that barrier faster than any social network to date. Facebook ,like MySpace before it, has been employed but has yet to demonstrate it’s effectiveness. Twitter has some good local examples, I think that one reason is the immediacy and timeliness of Twitter.

Chances are, if you’re like me, several local restaurants, coffee shops and even your local car wash have added you on Twitter. But let’s be honest most of them are not getting the kind of results below. That’s because local businesses are usually really bad at marketing themselves and even worse at measuring it.

Twitter Proves Its Worth as a Killer App for Local Businesses

Naked Pizza, a New Orleans healthful-pizza shop that’s hoping to go national — Mark Cuban is a backer — has been marketing itself via the microblogging service. And recently it has started to track Twitter-spurred sales at the register. In a test run April 23, an exclusive-to-Twitter promotion brought in 15% of the day’s business.

“Every phone call was tracked, every order was measured by where it came from, and it told us very quickly that Twitter is useful,” said Jeff Leach, the restaurant’s co-founder. “Sure, there’s the brand marketing and getting-to-know-you stuff. … But we wanted to know: Can it make the cash register ring?”

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MySpace reacts to Facebook: too little too late

It’s no secret that MySpace has been loosing market share to Facebook for a while now. MySpace is ugly and spammy.

The ability to design your own MySpace theme has proven that most people have zero design skills (my self included). The ads are obnoxious and intrusive.

Most early adopters have long ago switched from MySpace to Facebook. Facebook is cleaner and the ads *usually* aren’t as annoying.

I still have my MySpace page, mostly for nostalgic reasons. When I owned the skate shop in Vegas it was the single best marketing tool I had. I don’t use it to keep up with people anymore. The only thing I do still use it for is discovering and following bands, but even that is limited.

I opened my email this weekend and saw this message from MySpace, inviting me to connect with my old classmates. At first I couldn’t decide if they were trying to compete with of Facebook. I’m pretty sure they’re trying to compete with Facebook.

Clicking through the ad takes you to Which encourages you to search for fellow students from your old school. This is obviously one of the biggest fascinations with social networks. We all want to know what happened to our ex’s. We all want to know who went on to great things and who didn’t (if we’re honest with ourselves we’re probably more interested in finding out who didn’t).

They also have a list of *top* high schools and colleges. Top doesn’t mean best it only means which schools have the most members. Searching for my high school, Boise High School only yielded 3622 members. 1173 current students and 2413 alumni. You could then search by age. At first I thought it was a pretty cool feature. Then I realized how creepy this could be.

Overall I think this move on MySpace’s part was neccessary but honestly is just too little too late. The real value in MySpace moving forward is around entertainment. I think they should focus on giving indie bands more robust tools. Afterall it was bands that made MySpace viable and pulled users away from Friendster.

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What is a conversation anyway?

Twitter is like the crazy girlfriend: You like being with her because she’s hot but you really love telling your friends the crazy stories.

Seriously, what would we all blog about if it wasn’t for Twitter?

My favorite Philly area tech blogger, Regular Geek, has an interesting post on Twitter and Facebook. Status Updates Are Not Conversation | Regular Geek Robert was admittedly cranky when he wrote the post and I attribute this to the fact that I actually don’t agree with him for once.

His basic premise that Twitter status updates are not conversations is only partially true.

I completely agree that using Twitter and conversations as synonyms is just wrong. Robert sais, and many of his commenters agree, that Twitter is a horrible place to have a conversation. While I understand their POV, I disagree with it. I love the conversations I have on Twitter and watch people all day long have meaningful conversations and debates on every topic under the sun from music, politics, religion, business, technology, food, and thousands of other topics.

Is a single Tweet a conversation? No. Are multiple tweets between two or more people a conversation? Yes, absolutely.

Is Twitter an ideal place for a conversation? Depends on the conversation. Is a bar lounge an ideal place for a conversation? Depends on the conversation.

His annoyance with Twitter raising more money at such a large round is totally understandable. In fact I raised a similar concern. But scaling a company is expensive.  Twitter was started by experienced serial entrepreneurs. It also  has some extremely smart VC’s behind it. They have a view into the company that we don’t. We don’t know what Twitter or its investors are planning. I can only hope it’s something good. I want to see Twitter succeed as much as the next user does.

His other premise is that Facebook could put Twitter out of business if they really wanted to. He makes it sound like Facebook and Twitter are direct competitors. I don’t see this at all. Twitter has a very specific purpose, Facebook has a very different purpose. In my point of view this would be like saying MySpace and YouTube are competitors. Do they compete? Kind of. Will or could one put the other out of business? No way. There is more than enough room for multiple social platforms.

Twiter has always taken the approach of pushing it’s information away from the site. Facebook has always taken a very different approach of capturing and keeping as much of it’s information as possible. I also don’t see Facebook as any better (or worse) of a place for conversations. He also encourages Twitter to take an acquisition offer from Facebook should they get one. They did get one. It was all for Facebook stock (which is way overvalued IMO) and I think they very rightly turned it down.

The truth of the matter is that I got bored with Facebook years ago. I actually never really got to into it. Some people love it. Some people love Twitter. While other people are aready bored with Twitter and have moved onto FriendFeed. Just like all businesses, there will be multiple players, some will dominate the market while others successfully serve niches. Either way it’s fun to watch and provides endless blog fodder.

I love Robert’s post on Regular Geek and normally agree with (almost) everything he writes. I highly recommend you subscribe to his blog if you haven’t already.

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Social Media is not a back channel

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Peter Shankman has a great story about an agency guy that tweets about his distaste for Memphis while visiting FedEx to do some social media training. Oops. He got busted big time.

People have a tendency to get comfortable social media. Too
comfortable. There’s no shortage of examples where people post
incriminating photo’s on their Facebook or MySpace pages.  This is a problem that’s only going to get worse.

Like many HPers, I first joined Yammer after they won TechCrunch50.
I was first excited about the product (and I think it has a lot of
potential) but for me I didn’t find much to post there that I wouldn’t
post on Twitter. I think it has potential for two reasons:

  • Some employees like the idea of Twitter but don’t want something so much out in the open
  • There are things you may want to say to employees that you wouldn’t say on Twitter

TechCruch reports that Yammer has just raised it’s first round of funding. Yammer Raises $5 Million For Workgroup Micro-Messaging
So other people obviously feel it has potential as well.  Yammer has a
nice business model. It’s free to any employee with a company email. If
you want to control this group, say exclude people who have left the
company since signing up, or brand your companies page, there’s a per
user fee. This is great for small businesses who want a company wide
back channel, this doesn’t make sense for large enterprise customers. I
haven’t checked recently but I’m sure that if they don’t know, at some
point they’ll offer enterprise licensing.

In last week’s core community group the issue of Yammer came up. (I’ve mentioned our core community group before and written about it on my HP blog.)
The question was basically “What do we do about this?” It’s a very
valid question. The Yammer community is kind of a HP community, but no
one at HP gave them permission. The concern is that employees will
treat this like an official HP communication channel. Or just get a
little too comfortable with it and start saying too much.

HP has an official policy in our standards of business conduct which
applies to all company communication, to paraphrase: you don’t share
privilaged information through non secure channels. This means you
don’t send email to the wrong people, you don’t talk about certain
things outside of work, etc.

I quickly made the point that Yammer is no different than Ning, Facebook groups, LinkedIn
groups or anyother employee group, of which there are many. Anyone
could star a group for employees and people do. The thing to remember
is that these are not official and secure channels.

We will see a time where someone screws this up. Hopefully not at HP
but someone at some company will. We’re not perfect. Just like people
say the wrong things in email and to the wrong reporter, people make

I’m proud to say that the group at HP didn’t freak out and didn’t
try and shut it down. Instead we decided to make sure that our business
conduct standards are emphasized and updated to explicitly include
social media platforms.

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Why it takes me so long to add Twitter Friends

Image by Tac Anderson via Flickr

I probably have a bout 50+ Twitter friends request sitting in my inbox right now. There are some people I know that would hate to have to deal with this. I enjoy the interaction.

I click through every singe request and make sure that they’re not just some automated bot or obvious spam. If the person lists a blog in their profile then I click through and check it out.

I also make a point (most of the time) to go back and send a direct message to  my new friend (if I’m going to be sharing some of my deepest 140 character thoughts, then we should get to know each other).

I used to add all Twitter friends to my feed reader but I can’t handle more that 500 feeds so I’ve started getting picky with the new feeds I add to my Google Reader account. This weekend I decided I might start using my neglected Bloglines account for all my Twitter friends.

Managing the Noise

In order to not be overwhelmed with Twitter you have to manage it. This is no different than any other form of communication.

I have two tips for managing an active Twitter account. This works for me and may not work for everyone.

Approve Requests in Blocks

I actually do this for all of my accounts. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, FriendFeed, etc. One day a week, usually Monday’s, I sit down and go through all my requests. Sometimes I don’t get through all of them in one sitting but I do my best. I now start with the oldest requests first and work forward.

Filter Relevant Content

Set up SMS and IM notifications only for those friends you really have to/need to be in contact with. I also set up notifications for direct messages and @tacanderson replies.

I am quickly becoming a fan of FriendFeed. FriendFeed allows me to follow not just Twitter but most of my friends online activities and I can comment and reply to Twitter in FriendFeed.

So if you’re one of those many people waiting for me to add you back please be patient, I’m getting there.

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New Channels of Engagement

I find myself debating with people about the business relevance of New Media tools. For the last two years (and probably for the next two years) I have dealt with sceptics who question the validity of blogs, podcasts, wiki’s, forums and online social networks (LinkedIn) as a viable communication medium.

Lately I have been fielding the same questions about communities like Twitter, Ning and Second Life. In my last post I wrote about the problems with e-mail: The channel is clogged.

The same problem exists with radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, spam, and telephone marketers. The channels are clogged. When users no longer find a particular channel useful will they use less channels? No, they will find or make new channels.

This is what Twitter, Second Life, MySpace, blogs, etc, are: new channels of communication. Ironically, this is what TV, radio and the printed press started off as: channels of communication. Then people started asking what the business application was. Now these channels are so clogged with ‘business applications’ (ie marketing) that we have to find new channels of communication in order to talk to each other.

In a previous post I talked about what New Media could learn from the “demise” of old media. My recommendation to Marketers: Tread lightly, don’t yell, don’t interrupt, engage, add value, participate.

The same is happening in our workplace. We don’t have enough channels for the amount of information we have (and we haven’t seen anything yet). All of our old channels were designed in a different world; a world of limited information. This is why I blogged about the death of e-mail. As we have created more information we have crammed it in the same channels: e-mail, TV, radio, etc.

New Media is a channel, how we use it is what makes it powerful or just another annoyance.

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Twitter Craze Feels Like MySpace Back in the Day

So back in 2003 I heard about this brand new site; MySpace. At the time I owned a skate shop in Las Vegas and all the lurkers we’re obsessing over this As they explained how it was soooo much better than Friendster, I decided to give it a try.

One of the things that struck me right away was this sense of belonging to something. There was this basic carnal need to be on the “inside” when everyone else was on the outside. The best part was watching people who swore they would never join MySpace get hooked and start acting like junkies. It was an obsession to see who had left you a message, who added you as a friend or if anyone had commented on your pictures.

Things feel remarkably similar to the ongoing Twitter craze. There is this sense of belonging, of connecting to people that you don’t know. Communicating instantaneously with hundreds of people is amazing. According to, Twitter has grown almost 108% in one month to 35k people. And according to Blogpulse Twitter went from being mentioned in 1% of blogs back in mid February to 10% of blogs by mid March.

It is impossible to compare the growth of MySpace or YouTube to Twitter; two are platforms and one’s a channel. Here lies the real power of Twitter: Who has more power: a site that millions of people visit each day and stay on average of 20-30 minutes? Or a utility that is always with you via web, SMS and IM?

You have the capability to use Twitter like a hybrid IM/blog right from your Twitter page. I rarely use this page. I run Twitter from my Google Talk, which is run through on my Blackberry. This allows me to have Twitter on my phone without having to give out my cell phone # or have to pay for all the additional text message charges.

The challenges that are ahead for Twitter are that of scale. Can they continue to handle the load? MySpace crashed a lot back in the day, but something about the service kept people coming back.

Twitter has been having similar problems; so far people are sticking with it.

Twitter already has bands jumping on board. Can Twitter ad features like MySpace has? We have yet to see anything new from Twitter (I bet they’re just trying to hang on right now), but the users are taking care of that; there are plugins for WordPress, there are Twitter specific search engines plus Twitter mashups are popping up all over the place. Some bloggers have abondoned their blogs in favor of Twittering.

Many people are already predicting the demise of Twitter. I think they’ll pull through just fine. Twitterers seem pretty willing to live with the glitches caused by the sudden increase in users. I think Twitter is one of the newest ways to stay connected and will change the face of social networking. You think MySpace is looking at a way to copy Twitter? I do. And if they don’t someone else will.

Recomended blogs on this topic:
Micro Persuasion
Tac’s Twitter Page

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