By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer
While MySpace’s rival, Facebook, consistently breaks monthly traffic records, the teen social network is on a steady decline. That is not to say MySpace doesn’t have a sizable audience. The teen social network has an estimated monthly traffic of 54.3 million, according to Quantcast.com. But 54.3 million is a steep 35% drop from their peak at 83 million in June 2007. So how can the faltering social network recover to 2007 numbers?
MySpace has a very strong core audience. According to Quantcast, the social network outpaces its competitors in % addicts and regulars. While only 12% of Facebook’s audiences are “addicts,” MySpace trumps with 18%. And the social network certainly captures the teen market with 74% of their audience under the age of 34 (Facebook has 67% and Twitter 53%). But how can MySpace reclaim its former glory?
The teen social network was an early leader in social media when it launched in 2003. However, after much media hype and a $580 million acquisition by News Corp, the social network has struggled to reverse the downward trend in traffic. “I figured that MySpace would see that it was speeding down the highway of irrelevance and maybe change course (the off-ramp of new ideas, perhaps),” blogs Two Groove. “I was wrong. Not only have they made no efforts to improve, the masses are hooked on Facebook.”
Sending Mixed Messages
To date, the MySpace strategy has been to throw everything at the wall and hopefully something will stick. With Twitter, video, blogging, photo, updates, live chat, several applications, bulletins, friend spaces, MySpace mail, favorites, comments, activity stream, mood status, forums, events, groups and many many more features, MySpace has lost focus. Launched as a music social network, MySpace has strayed from its roots to incorporate latest social network features.
If we take a look at other brands that have faced similar challenges, we can gain some perspective on how MySpace might alter their strategy to curb its steady decline. Consider the Apple comeback. When Steve Jobs left the company in the mid-late 90s, it faced certain demise shortly thereafter. That critical point was met with the return of the founder, Steve Jobs. When Jobs reclaimed his position, he effectively changed the face of computing — starting with the released of the iMac. The iMac allowed users to relate to computers. Its simple design and splash of color completely changed consumer attitudes towards computers. No longer were they cold, unfeeling, sterile objects; computers could evoke a warm, friendly feeling.
How MySpace could take a lesson from the Jobs’ playbook:
1. Simplify the platform — Get rid of all of the overwhelming bells and whistles. The iMac and iPod made computing devices simple and consequently, approachable. Or, take example from Twitter. 140 character messages. That’s it. Simple, approachable, effective.
2. Go back to your roots — MySpace started as a music site. Return to that place. Return to what made MySpace interesting in the first place. It’s not clear what the site stands for now.
3. Build from there — Once you’d gone back to basics, learn what works very carefully. Creating a feature-explosion is intimidating and not necessary. Find out what the audience wants, then make strategic upgrades.
MySpace is on a downward spiral. To pull-up from such a decline, MySpace must re-invent the brand and product offering. While the social network still has a significant and engaged audience, the time is right to shift strategy and take a risk. Though results might not be immediate, this is the path forward to long-term survival.
Image by Ashley Voortman from Stock.Xchng