Monday, September 21, 2009

MySpace: Perhaps the problems have less to do with innovation and technology...

This morning at OMAA Global, Jonathan Miller, new CEO of the digital media group at NewsCorp stated that it was a lack of innovation that has tripped up MySpace the once-most-popular social networking site on the net:
"There's no question that [MySpace] fell behind on the technology front and on the product front," Miller said. "This business is one of continual innovation, and we're very focused on building a product and technology organization that innovates."

What Miller did not address, however, is what people actually *say* about MySpace, as well as the audience MySpace has neglected, which is what may have contributed to the precipitous drop in unique visitor count in July to 68.4 million.

People overall have lost interest in MySpace--not because of the technology, but because of the community and its inability to mature along with the people who created it. When NewsCorp bought MySpace back in 2005, it concentrated its marketing efforts on young people (13 and over.) A heretofore network for the party-hearty crowd (I had a profile there in late 2004 at the end of my rather non-existent goth dj career) began to be promoted a place to meet "friends." But they also found that they could find just their local friends, but friends all over the country/world as well as their favorite bands, wannabe porn queens, various club nites, parties, wild self-promoters, and anyone else who'd been booted out of Friendster.

They could also post naughty pictures of themselves, construct alternative identities, and bully others. There were no grown-ups there to tell them what to do.

Since then, the young people who flocked to MySpace in 2005 (with, perhaps, a median age of 17) ended up going to College and desiring to put some distance between themselves and those friends who didn't seem to quite grow up,and the alternative identites that didn't fit anymore.

In a short time after MySpace was bought by Newscorp, upstart competitor Facebook opened itself up to the high-school crowd and with a clean, well-lit, uncustomizable community. It was a welcome change to. It established a certain cachet apart from the hurly burly of MySpace.

Facebook started as invitation only to the Ivy League.
MySpace started with the partying crowd of L.A.
Facbook was for those who went on Spring Break, not Easter Vacation.
Facebook had class.

If anything, at its height, and with people like Tila Tequila and Christine Dolce battling it out for the most "friends," MySpace had crass. Lots and lots of it.

In many, many ways beyond Tila and Christine,and Emo boys and would-be singers cum Governor-trashing escorts, MySpace made parents nervous because it of its openness-- which also allowed for the infamous "online predators."

We can't really forget all *that* particular bad MySpace press now, can we?

At that time, Facebook just seemed safer (even though everything on it is public information that organizations esp. can find one way or another, if they want.) And when Facebook decided to open up to the general public in 2006, it scored as big with the grown-up professionals as it had with Ivy Leaguers.

Adults--unless they had particular reasons for being on MySpace--weren't given to putting up MySpace profiles. But they sure did go for Facebook's clean and fun social space that didn't require customizing and didn't offer garish colors nor carry tasteless flashing banner ads.

Along the way, there would a lot on Facebook for professional adults and college kids to kvetch about with Facebook, but Facebook tends to listen to the kvetches, and makes changes when the protests or requests are vocal (hence the Twitter interface--and don't think it was the kids who were jumping for joy about *that* one.) Facebook overall is still quite fine for professionals who don't mind having others in their professional networks see a silly picture or two or know that they listen to Lady GaGa. It has also done a lot to beef up its Fan pages, making it easier for businesses to have a Facebook presence--an important thing when you consider that some very good word-of-mouth/social media marketing could be done on Facebook.

So, think about it: is it really lack of innovation or bad techology that has tripped up MySpace? Honestly, it was more of a bad community strategy, a lack of ability to understand what those who don't want to show off their belly button piercings might want from a social network. As its audience began to mature, MySpace's attitude didn't change. The folks who might have been fans of some goth emo band at 17 just might have given that band up by 22, and also got their first jobs and some responsibility that might require a little less heavy sighing and posturing.

MySpace kept its loudmouth party-heartiness, but, when the party moves on, it just wasn't up to the task. Like the guy who's still wearing a mullet and listening to Whitesnake, MySpace as a community--as an entity--is a bit out of step these days.

And I'm not sure the mullet's going to be coming back any time soon.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A few comments on coming back to blogging....

In June, I abruptly stopped blogging--and with no explanation. I didn't hear any particular hue and cry about my not-blogging. I figured that I really didn't have all that many readers, or that people were just giving me my space.

Because I really needed the space--to wrap my brain around what I'm really interested, in what my career is, and in what I'm doing with my life. Summer always seems to be a good time to do this, as lots of people take various bits of time off during the summer.

I just took three months off. Much needed. And here's what happened:

What many people may not know about me is that I've been living and breathing this social media stuff since the summer of 2005 when I attended the first BlogHer conference (which Staci Kramer wrote about in OJR, capturing some of the important highlights of that first conference.) I've traveled a lot in this space since then: from my first "professional" job blogging for Corante, to crowdsourcing with Assignment Zero, to a couple of somewhat-disastrous "conversational marketing" efforts, and now to working on my own first full-fledged social media business client.

In the meantime, I also traveled to a staggering number of conferences across journalism, marketing and technology. I spoke at my fair share of them--odd since I don't have a background in marketing, tech nor journalism.

But I use my brain. And I shoot my mouth off alot.

Still, there were parts of my life that were falling apart as I was trying to build up my professional life. My health for one thing. It seems that I have a number of chronic but not life-threatening, just annoying, health conditions. Running hither and yon, eating food that was terrible for me, having allergic reactions all over the place, drinking too much coffee and all that took a toll on my body and my nervous system. I spent a lot of time in pain, under-productive, and extremely cranky. I had a kidney stone and shingles. It was when my hair started to hurt that I realized I had to do something about all of this. And I did. I slowed down and started paying attention to what my body needed and didn't need. How my mind felt. If I was biting off too much and why.

So, my health is, well, a lot healthier than it was before. I'm much less of a bitch than I was--but that still doesn't stop me from pointing out when the Emperor (or Empress) has no clothes. That's just my nature.

My relationships too were pretty crap-tastic. After my divorce in 2001, I was pretty much a wreck, and got involved with a very nice man who has become an important part of my life. Essentially, he's more family than my "family." Thing is, we have a lot of things NOT in common. Love can heal a lot of things, but we are only human and sometimes we need more than just a love that translates into warm silences, caring, and a cuddle on the couch...

Now, some might think that relationships shouldn't be all that important when one is building a new profession and a small business. That should be exciting enough However, the woman-side of me finds relationships far more important than career-related accomplishments. If I was such a dismal failure at relationships, and totally un-desirable to the opposite sex, how could I go about being successful in my career.

Yeah, I know, go ahead and call me shallow. Or just accept me and realize I'm wired differently than you.

I digress....

Because I got tired of feeling like a relationship failure, and feeling that no man in his right mind would want overweight middle aged little me with baggage the size of King Kong, I decided to look into online dating again. I had an absolutely disastrous experience with eHarmony--where the only guys who seemed to like me were in the South (go figure) and I found their method to be passive-aggressive (not to mention the branded "dear John" emails that a person can send: "I'm pursuing another relationship on!" to be totally tasteless.) Eventually, after figuring out what I wanted--basically, to make friends with some interesting guys, and to get laid regularly with no big relationships and no proposals of marriage thankyouverymuch--I decided on a site that I felt would work for me....

Now, I won't disclose the name of the site, as I don't want people scrambling to find it or me on it--and knowing how judgmental others can be, it's best if I keep mum. Suffice to say that I've met and cultivated a nice little coterie of very interesting Alpha Males to whom I am extraordinarily special.

I am a success in the types of relationships that I am best--as a companion and a lover; a teacher and student of life. A woman who does her own thing, makes her own rules, and is comfortable in her own skin. I can't be who others want nor expect me to be. I defy conventions and shatter stereotypes and sometimes it's so hard I want to cry.

The thing is, even though I might have moments when I cry, and when I question my decisions that are so far afield of the conventional, I realize that I am happier now than I ever was in my life.

With success in relationships, and much better heath, I feel like I can come back to blogging--and in different ways. I'm keeping this blog, but will be starting a marketing-focused blog specifically on some of the developments going on now in that field. That will also be my business "website." I'm toying with the idea of personal blogging again, and have set up an anonymous blog, but I have no idea if I'll have the time for that as well. Writing, for me, is a giant pain in the ass. I'd rather be social Had to accept that one too--not easy when I've been writing stories pretty much since I could hold a pencil.

Then again, before I could hold a pencil, I was holding court. I'd always been far more social than not--it just got buried under a bad family situation and admonitions not to talk to others about anything ever.

In any event, there seems to be more balance in my life now than there was back in April and May, when I could see myself sputtering and limping along like a Chevy with a flat tire and a blown piston, not happy with anything, barely able to blog, and not really knowing why.

Turning it off was the best decision I could have made for myself--and with no fanfare nor grand declarations.

Until I became balanced and ready to turn it back on again....