MySpace: How Others Can Learn From Its Failure

Recently, MySpace was just sold to advertising network Specific Media for $35 million. And, wait for it, Justin Timberlake has also been brought in as a part-owner to help revitalize the dying social network.

I’ll let the irony sink in for a bit. For those of you not in the know, Justin Timberlake played the then Napster founder and future Facebook president Sean Parker in the Oscar award-winning movie, “The Social Network”. And the success of Facebook is often attributed as one of the many reasons behind MySpace’s ultimate failure. Now, it almost seems fitting that Justin Timberlake plans to reprise his role as Sean Parker, the brilliant entrepreneur, in order to bring the once spectacular MySpace back to the public eye.

Where MySpace Failed

The actual Sean Parker, in a recent interview with Jimmy Fallon, labeled MySpace as a “junk heap of bad design that persisted for many, many years.” In essence, he’s right. MySpace failed, for many, many years, to truly innovate its design aspects. So, while the site was highly attractive to high school students that were looking to customize their page, college students were often turned off by those customization aspects. Facebook, on the other hand, provided a one size fits all solution that was attractive and simple enough for college students social networking needs.

Most importantly, MySpace revealed how users didn’t want to control and design their own profiles. Simply, they wanted to just communicate with friends and family members. Sure, MySpace allowed them to do that, but it was also plagued with viruses, child predators and spammers. Profile pages were often clunky, ugly and simply unintuitive.

Further, MySpace never truly recognized the importance of having an unobtrusive user-experience. Ads were often oddly placed and disruptive to users, and reflected more on the company’s greed and incompetence than their ability to come up with intelligent ways to monetize their millions of users.

MySpace’s failures are truly the quintessential example of how not to court customers. As evidenced by the sites eventual downfall, and their current sale price of just $35 million, how the company went about securing ad placement, designing and innovating their product clearly lacked any concise, intelligent vision. Simply put, it was shoddy craftsmanship, and even worse leadership for a company that was once valued at as much as $1.5 billion (for reference, Facebook has recently been valued as much as $70 billion, sometimes higher).

What MySpace’s unfortunate example reveals is that no company, regardless of size, is free from failure.  Other once dominant companies, too, have revealed how a failure to innovate, and sadly misguided management can result in catastrophic failure. General Motors is an excellent example of this. Although they have since had a dramatic turnaround, their inability to truly attract customers for years nearly forced them to go under.

Now, with MySpace under brand new ownership, Justin Timberlake and Specific Media are going to be looking for interesting ways to bring a company that was once synonymous with social networking back from the dead.

And maybe, we’ll soon be able to determine if Justin Timberlake’s ability to make Facebook ‘cool’ in “The Social Network” has any real baring on MySpace’s current future.



Source: MSM DesignZ, Inc. is a Westchester social media company based in NY specializing in advertising, web and graphic design, and SEO.