Today, when someone mentions the site Myspace the immediate response in generally laughter. The site has been doomed for years and their average loss of about a million users a month since 2009 has all but put the final nail in the coffin for the social site. Many analysts speculate as to why it fell apart with accusations of mis-management, claims of Facebook being perceived as more trendy, and even the ever present “It’s too corporate, maaannnnn” argument. While most, if not all of these options may be true, I think there’s more to it than that.
When Myspace ramped up, it was the first of it’s kind. It grew organically as one person told the next person and the next person and soon enough, all of your friends were on Myspace. The rapid word-of-mouth growth was staggering. When I first joined, I was one of very few people in my high school who had one, but slowly that changed. Every day, more and more of my peers were jumping on, building profiles, commenting, messaging, and all that other social network stuff. The initial boom of Myspace was exhilarating. It was the first time I was addicted to a website. I had to check my profile at every computer I used. It was the first thing I did when I turned my computer on, and the last thing I did when I turned it off.
At the time, being in high school, Myspace was, well, it was just amazing. Being able to chat back and forth with friends, or that girl in your math class without the nervousness of face to face confrontation was every awkward teenagers dream come true. It was anonymous even though it was completely not anonymous. Everything about the site was addicting. I could sit for hours and jump from page to page, picture to picture, comment to comment, and never get bored.
As time went on though, those novelties wore off. I grew up and Myspace did too.
It all began when I first started college. One of my first days at school, a new friend began telling me about this site. Something exclusive. It was only for college students. I remember him telling me about it in his dorm, and later when I got to my computer, I couldn’t remember the stupid name. The book of faces? The Face Place? BookFace? What?
After figuring out what he was saying, I created a Facebook account. It was so different, yet oddly familiar. From the moment I signed on to Facebook, there were tons of new features than Myspace didn’t have. Photo tagging was one of the most interesting of those features. Suddenly we could share photos with friends and re-live memories of the drunken nights we had shared. Profile’s were all clean and simple, not like the overly customized disasters that Myspace profiles had become. Everyone had the same layout, and you just filled it in with your personality. It was different. It was sane. It was refreshing.
That was the first strike for Myspace.
Obviously, the fall of Myspace can’t be completely blamed on the rise of Facebook. At one time, I had both and I was perfectly content maintaining the two. Gradually though, Myspace lost its luster.
There was a point, shortly after the addition of band pages, that Myspace was at it’s peak. At the time, I was in a band and having a page that we could call our own was fantastic. We could share event photos, announce upcoming shows, and even share our music in the music player. It was the perfect way to get the attention of potential fans. While I admit, we weren’t topping any charts, we still made a nice little following for ourselves with the help of Myspace. It was great, but like any great thing, moderation is key. See my band came and went. We all grew up and started out on our lives and abandoned our Myspace page (It’s still up there to this day). It was shortly after we broke the band up, that the Myspace band explosion got out of hand. See now, with this new medium, everyone started a band. Literally everyone. Every single time I logged on to my personal Myspace, I’d have requests from at least 3 different bands saying things like “Hey man! We noticed you liked [band name] and [other band name], you should ToTaLLy ADD US!!! DURRRRRFGGERGGNSNH.”
This is when Myspace became annoying. The constant bombardment of bands was completely obnoxious. Add to that, those random weirdos who were in a race to have more Myspace friends than anyone else and I just completely lost interest. The problem I had then, and I still have now is that I don’t have any patience. The more Myspace exploded with what amounts to being spam, the more I took refuge in the calm, serene, blue Facebook. It was always just so different. While Myspace was like a gold rush for more friends, more comments, more pageviews, and song listens, Facebook was a place to just relax and have fun with people you actually cared about. Obviously, this is all my opinion, but I don’t think it’s an opinion that many would disagree with. Most of the people I know fell out of love with Myspace for the same reasons. It just became a gigantic teenage popularity contest and eventually, everyone grows up.
That was strike two for Myspace.
While I hate to repeat what everyone else thinks, It is true, Newscorp ruined what was left of Myspace. On top of all of the stuff I already mentioned, Myspace became the Time Square of the internet. It was an advertising nightmare. At the time, many people I knew, including me, still had Myspace accounts. So Newscorp could take full advantage of the user base and exploit them. Advertising on the internet is still a new thing. It hasn’t had time to become as refined as the 30 second TV ads we’re all so familiar with. Some sites take it too far, some sites keep it minimal, some don’t have advertisements at all, and it’s becoming increasing difficult to actually make money with any sort of advertising (our Google Ad-sense account is living proof of that). The fact is, the internet still has yet to define itself in a lot of ways, and advertising is just one of the many things that will, eventually, have a standard that everyone follows, just like TV. Myspace was one of the first sites to show us the wrong way to advertise on the internet. They sold advertising spots to quite literally anyone, legitimate or not. They were way too obstructive, and most of all, there was too much of it. You’d hit the front page to log in and be bombarded with a movie trailer, then you’d get to your homepage and see that you won a kajillion dollars and a new solid gold iPod. It was just wrong.
Facebook, being the refined sort, learned from their mistakes and kept the ads simple. They are visible, they’re always in the same spot, and they’re tailored to things that I care about. While some people complain about privacy and blah blah blah, I say bravo! See I don’t mind being advertised to. I’ll admit to being a consumer, and if a product that I didn’t know about is flashed before my eyes on Facebook, there’s a good chance I’ll notice it. Since it’s presented to me in a way that isn’t obnoxious, I generally won’t be annoyed by it. Myspace didn’t understand that. They let the advertisers run rampant all over the place in the interest of making a quick buck and it bit them in the ass. People got annoyed by the constant bombardment and they packed up and left for greener pastures. It was a hard lesson for Myspace to learn, but it needed to be done. While the internet evolves, some sites need to be the lamb for the slaughter. Advertising is one of the trickier aspects to the web. There are some sites that do it very well, I think Facebook is one of them. There are also some sites that do it very poorly, like blocking a link you want to click with a piece of a giant Cheetos ad, forcing you to manual type the link in the URL bar. Ads that hinder our ability to use a website are always annoying. Myspace made that very obvious.
That was the final strike for Myspace.
Myspace just plain sucks now. The site is still somewhat popular in some areas of the world, but the masses have packed up and left. Being first to the social network race, Myspace set the bar on what to do, and what not to do. Other social sites have learned the lesson because they know where Myspace went wrong. There have been predictions that Facebook will suffer the same fate when a new challenger rises, but I really don’t think it will happen. Facebook knows where Myspace went wrong and they won’t make the same mistakes. Given that knowledge, I can’t imagine another social network ever being able to compete against Facebook. Yes, I know, Twitter is popular too, but it’s not even in the same realm as Facebook. Twitter is like a baby social network compared to the functionality that Myspace and Facebook offer, so it doesn’t need to compete. It can run along side them as an auxiliary site. Myspace is way too far gone now. They’ve lost control of their fleeing user-base and it’s only a matter of time before they completely disappear. I, for one, salute them. They have consistently done everything in their power to make an example out of themselves. They are the poster child for what you shouldn’t do with your social network. They set the bar, and others have noticed. So I say: Thank you Myspace. Without you, we’d wouldn’t have learned those hard lessons. You sacrificed your life for the good of the internet, and that dedication deserves praise, not punishment. You will remain a beacon of light, guiding us away from your problems and towards a much brighter future.