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Friday, 12 November 2010

"social media spam"

The Social Analyst is a column by Mashable Co-Editor Ben Parr, where he digs into social media trends and how they are affecting companies in the space.

You’ve probably heard by now: the new MySpace is coming. It is not only redesigned, but it is the start of a completely new direction and strategy for what was once the world’s pre-eminent social network.

As we reported earlier this week, the new MySpace (MySpace) is supposed to be a transformation from “a place for friends” to “a social entertainment destination.” While MySpace profiles, friend lists and newsfeeds will all remain once the transition is complete, MySpace will no longer focus on those things. Instead, it will focus on engaging a “Generation Y” audience with the entertainment and entertainers that they love. New features like Topic Pages will help users follow their favorite TV shows, music artists, actors and games.

MySpace is also introducing a new type of user: the curator. Users that exhibit a following or expertise in a specific social trend or entertainment topic can gain curator status, which gives them access to an array of tools for facilitating content discovery and leading fans of a specific subculture. The company believes that when users connect with active curators, their engagement with MySpace goes up dramatically. This is one of the things CEO Mike Jones told me during a conversation we had last week about the redesign.

The company is focused on encouraging four core behaviors: discovery, collection, connection and creation. MySpace wants its users to quickly discover new and interesting entertainment content via Topic Pages, recommendations and the newsfeed. It also wants to encourage curators to facilitate this discovery with Topic Pages and Entertainment Hubs.

Connecting fans, curators and entertainers is the third key behavior MySpace wants to foster, while the final behavior, creation, is something users already do with their profiles. MySpace knows that most profiles are hideous abominations of good taste, so it’s encouraging users to switch to the much-cleaner Profile 3.0 design with some hip, artist-designed themes.
Is “Social Entertainment” the Right Move?

The redesign seems to be an affirmation of something we’ve known for a long time: MySpace’s strength is in entertainment, not social networking. It lost the technology battle long ago to Facebook (Facebook), and only now is it realizing that it has to get out of its giant shadow in order to spark a turnaround.

MySpace’s new strategy has some major risks. The big one is that it has now established itself as a product of a smaller niche (entertainment for “Generation Y”). In other words, it has a smaller potential userbase than Facebook or even Twitter (Twitter). As I’ve said before though, MySpace lost the war with Facebook long ago.

As a friend close to MySpace told me earlier this week, the company had to “go for it.” Staying the course would have doomed it to oblivion. The new design is a realization of who really visits MySpace and why they’re really there. Today’s youth connect with each other through Facebook, but many of them still get their entertainment fix from MySpace. The company’s strategic focus on finding better ways to deliver entertainment content in addicting doses is refreshing and the best (and most realistic) strategy at its disposal.

While there are no guarantees that the new strategy will turn things around, the combination of a focused direction and a stylish design gives me hope that MySpace may actually be able to pull off one hell of a comeback. Its biggest obstacle will be convincing people to give it a second chance.


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