Can MySpace be cool again?

After being in decline for 20 social-media years, MySpace is finally waking up and doing something about it.  Please note that a social-media year is equal to two dog years, and a dog year is equal to seven people years.

Here’s a little history lesson that goes back a half century (in social media years). MySpace used to have twice the traffic of Facebook. Then Facebook became more relevant while MySpace didn’t. In the middle of 2009, the traffic numbers on Facebook flew past the number of visitors on MySpace, and Facebook continues to grow in popularity. In October 2008, MySpace had over 60% of the social-media market; now it’s only 30% of it. Facebook is now top-dog with over 58% of the social-networking traffic (all according to Hitwise).myspace

The Wall Street Journal reported today that MySpace is trying to “recover its cool by becoming an online hangout that connects friends around entertainment.”  There are many things that I like about this. First is that MySpace is finally doing something to revitalize the brand. It’s about time!  Secondly, this strategy connects with consumers (they love entertainment) and it connects with a core aspect of MySpace — music. MySpace has always been a great place for bands (big and small) to showcase their music. The musical niche is about the only strong suit MySpace has held onto during its free fall.

The article says that MySpace is ramping up its technology initiatives to create new products that let users share entertainment content (music, games, celebrities, videos, and blogs) with friends is an essential part of its strategy. “This is not an all-things-for-everybody portal,” Mr. Hirschhorn says. “This is a social entertainment experience.”

MySpace has hired several key big-time executives to support this effort — a new CEO and a new chief revenue officer (focused on ad sales). They are looking to create opportunities for big brands to create ad sponsorships in the new MySpace. It will be interesting to see if they can invite advertisers to the party without alienating the guests (the MySpace users).

Who will be ahead in the next social-media year? Nobody knows. Social networks have been hit by a fad component that Yahoo, Friendster and AOL can tell you all about. You can also ask Twitter about fads. I’ll put my money on the network that figures out how to seamlessly tie into cell phones (customer convenience) AND make it easy and natural for brands to connect with people (monetization).

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