Have you seen the new MySpace? If you're like most of the world, the answer is likely "No."
That's the way things have been going for MySpace over the last few years. It's a testament that the once-mighty "king of bling" has completely lost relevance and is walking down the long hall on its way to the Internet gas chamber. Does MySpace have any chance of recovering any of its old importance or reinventing itself into domination within a different niche? Believe it or not, it could happen. Here's how:
It's cleaner, but just about anything could be considered cleaner than what it was before. MySpace changed its look and feel last month to go after "The Millennials", 13-35 year olds who are in touch with the entertainment worlds of music, television, and movies.
Beyond targeting, the redesign demonstrates a shift from "where" people share to "what" people share. They are trying to attract the hippest out there and are willing to allow the tastemakers and trendsetters in entertainment to curate content and share it on former competitors such as Twitter and Facebook.
If you can't beat 'em, use 'em. That appears to be the biggest change in the redesign - allow people to take content from MySpace and share it on other sites to draw in the eyeballs. They are even appearing regularly on social news sites such as Digg and Reddit, apparently to increase pageviews.
Facebook won out as a community and Twitter won out as a news provider, leaving MySpace with one direction: dominate a niche. That's exactly what president Michael Jones wants and their direction for the last year has shifted towards one of the most lucrative niches out there: Entertainment.
"Over time, Myspace got very broad and lost focus of what its members were using it for," Jones said. "Our focus is social entertainment. Niche players have long staying power."
It isn't as much a "new" direction as a restatement of their original direction. They have been pushing in this direction for nearly a year and have been able to keep music bands large and small on their site due to the ease in which these bands can market their music on their profile pages. The challenge has been in getting the people to take a break from Facebook to see what's happening in entertainment on MySpace. Despite not having the focus that MySpace has, Facebook's sheer size and "addictability" keeps eyeballs locked.
Carey said that MySpace has "quarters, not years" to establish a clear path to profitability. With such a small window to mount a turnaround, both executives and employees realize that it's now or never.
Now is the only option, and it's in that desperation that MySpace has a chance to succeed. Complacency is not an option and when businesses are faced with extinction, some rise and some fall. That's where MySpace is. With over 120 million members worldwide, it's still possible to turn it around.
It's easier to build up momentum when you've never been at the top. It's like a boxer who lost the crown and tries to get it back - once you've been ejected from the thrown it's harder to take it back.
The name has been tarnished and is often used as a punchline in articles about websites that were once on top and failed. The biggest challenge in any reimagination is in spreading the word that they are still relevant.
Currently, they aren't. Mentions of MySpace by the media are normally held for negative sentiment. This sentiment means that drastic changes are the only way for them to reemerge.
The other challenge is time. If the goal is to be the leader in entertainment news, they have to be breaking. To be breaking, they are hoping that crowdsourcing will be able to beat the TMZs of the world. That will be difficult because entertainment publications have seasoned professionals and a lot of money out there getting the information that people crave.
As degrading as it may seem, the best bet for MySpace is in (gulp) marketing. Dirty phrases such as "social media marketing" and "search engine optimization" are the only way that MySpace can truly emerge as the leader in entertainment. The community is leaving. The importance is gone. They will have to rely on good old fashioned "look at us" marketing if they have any hope of avoiding the Internet graveyard.
Will they succeed? Vegas would likely give the company 5:1 odds of growing in 2011 and only slightly better odds of existing at all by 2013. The trends are against them. The buzz is against them. The outlook is dismal.
And yet, they still have a chance. It may be too late, but that won't stop them from trying.