Facebook may have eclipsed MySpace in terms of traffic (via Compete), and Twitter may be growing by leaps and bounds, but MySpace isn’t content to sit back and watch its rivals steal market share and potential ad dollars. News Corp.’s social network is trying to claw its way back to the forefront of the social graph with an upgrade to its status and mood history that we’ve learned goes live tonight — giving users more control over the kinds of updates their friends see, how often they see them and even the option of making their status and mood updates public.
— The push for more “user engagement”: While all three social nets offer status updates, MySpace allows users to note how they’re feeling — like “adored,” “satisfied” or even “pissed off”, complete with an emoticon — an extra dimension Facebook and Twitter (especially with its 140 character input limit) don’t offer. Pre-set mood updates were previously only available via a drop-down box; MySpace made them customizable a few months ago in the aims of “increasing overall user engagement,” a company spokesperson said, when asked about tonight’s upgrades. Increasing the site’s “stickiness” is key, as it’s “more compelling” when users know what their friends are up to; it also shows that “they’re spending more time on the site.” More after the jump.
– But there’s money involved, too: Both Facebook and Twitter have brokered high-profile deals to have their status updates live-streamed by other sites: Facebook’s inauguration day effort with CNN resulted in over 2 million of its members’ updates being published on CNN.com (via the Facebook blog); Twitter had a similar deal with the San Jose Mercury News. And the spoils go beyond media bragging rights — Glam Media secured sponsorship for its Twitter update widget during the Oscars, meaning that the ad network found a way to monetize a portion of Twitter’s user base. While there were no details on whether Glam kicked a cut of the revenue to Twitter for the use of that audience, it’s not hard to imagine some sort of revenue-sharing deal emerging in the future. So the more “engagement” users have with a given status update channel — be it Facebook, Twitter, or even MySpace — the more ad dollars that channel could potentially be looking at.
– Get rid of the walled garden: The one thing that may keep these new status and mood customization features from making a huge impact is that members’ updates are still kept behind the MySpace wall. The company said updates will be visible to non-MySpace members only if a user makes his or her profile public, but there currently are no plans to offer live-streamed updates through third-parties.