In the realm of might-have-beens, Myspace shows even more promise than Friendster. But as I discuss at GigaOM Pro, by returning to its roots, a move suggested by its recent relaunch, Myspace may yet be salvageable. It shouldn’t try to challenge Facebook for social network leadership, but it can still be a valuable consumer media business, if not a technology driver.
Myspace’s relaunch is smart in its focus, but a little thin on innovation. It already accommodates Facebook and Twitter updates, but it’s questionable whether much of its audience will use the social network to aggregate social communications. That said, Myspace has adapted feed-based user interfaces in what appears to be a unique fashion: Users can toggle between magazine- and TV-like modes as well as a conventional stream. This mix of active and passive entertainment discovery — users already get update streams from friended bands, studios, entertainment personalities, etc. — could prove a useful launch pad for Myspace fans to spread comments and recommendations outside, as well as within, Myspace.
What’s Still Needed
Myspace still has a large — if declining — U.S. audience that’s younger and more socially diverse than the web average. Besides keeping that audience entertained, Myspace must innovate on the following:
- New ad vehicles. Two years ago, Myspace attracted attention with a campaign for luxury brand Cartier that integrated musicians like Lou Reed and Marion Cotillard. Today, MySpace gets rich homepage campaigns (with trailer, showtimes, behind-the-scenes info) for movie openings — Lionsgate’s “Saw 3D” for Halloween, of course — and big banners on its channel homepages from the likes of Samsung, Sprint and Fox Television. However, it needs to create unique social sponsorship opportunities involving games, contests, interaction with stars and re-distribution outside of Myspace.
- Social commerce. Myspace delivers full-track music streaming that enables affiliate purchases on Amazon. But it needs to build out a marketplace for artist merchandise, and should consider adopting gimmicks such as Groupon-like daily deals and group purchasing. Easy-to-build storefronts from Payvment would make sense, and Myspace should be a leader in cross-category virtual currency for games and downloads.
- Outbound syndication. Myspace wisely acquired iLike, a viral music service popular on Facebook, but it needs more ways to spread its and its users content outside its own site. It should copy, partner with, or acquire GetGlue, a startup that offers Foursquare-like check-ins, badges, and the like for web entertainment content.
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