No place for MySpace

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The latest MySpace press clippings include a wave of job cuts and postings made on its site by Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old man charged with last week’s Arizona shooting massacre – hardly a positive PR portfolio.

Chief executive Mike Jones says the “tough but necessary” redundancies are in order to push the site towards profitability, but analysts predict the choice to axe half its workforce is in order to make the company more attractive to potential buyers.

Yahoo is a possible suitor. But the prospect sounds like rubbing two dead matches together in an attempt to make fire. One failing internet giant + another failing internet giant, doth not a Facebook make.

MySpace, once the dominant social networking force in the mid ’00s has been usurped by the bigger players and joins the list of social networking white elephants, alongside Friends Reunited, Face Party and countless others long-since forgotten.

When Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp bought MySpace for around $580m in 2005 it had 20 million unique users, mostly consisting of “Generation Y”, 13-15 year olds with a bit of internet nouse.

But as the young MySpacers grew into young adults, they migrated en masse to Facebook as MySpace did little to adapt the product to its ageing market. It failed to remain loyal to the original users who did so much to boost it.

MySpace migrants had little reason to return to their original social networking home once they discovered Facebook. Their new hub was cleaner, easier-to-use and constantly innovating with new technologies.

MySpace came second with every piece of attractive new tech Facebook had to offer: whether it was instant messaging, address book importing or the simplification of direct messages, MySpace was too slow to adopt new technologies.

In 2009, MySpace’s chief executive Mike Jones said the site was no longer a social network but a “social entertainment destination”. Its repositioning was an admission of defeat to the bigger players it could never compete with: Facebook and Twitter.

This was the alarm bell for its demise: brands should adapt to the changes within their market, but never make reactive decisions and change the market they operate in altogether.

Its October redesign sparked further outrage among its withering loyal user population who found they were no longer able to customise their own profiles – the one real distinction from Facebook’s offering – the site was not their own any more.

MySpace executives may have felt the business itself was not their own. Shortly after NewsCorp’s takeover, MySpace began to lose the parent company tens of millions of dollars each month, losses that were neither “acceptable or sustainable” according to its president Chase Carey.

The product was no longer the focus as NewsCorp concentrated on regaining revenue, fast.

The decision was fatal and once NewsCorp sells its once-treasured asset, it is likely that MySpace, once the social networking behemoth, will flutter off to the back corridors of the internet. The website may still exist, but as a brand it seems MySpace is not far off the scrapheap.

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