Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pushing MySpace was a mistake when it was my space

Michael Jones was in charge of MySpace during its last days as part of the Murdoch empire - you'll recall, he was the man who tried to turn it from being a hollaback horrorshow into a music destination.

He's now admitted that he was flogging a hippo carcass:

A year ago, we executed one of the most significant relaunches of a historical Internet brand. We repositioned Myspace as a social entertainment destination and introduced an entirely new technology platform, new products and refreshed content. However, the new Myspace didn't gain as much traction with consumers as we had hoped.
The reasons for this? He's quite upfront about it. He had a toxic brand:
We chose to keep the Myspace brand. This was a mistake. We found that regardless of how much we improved the product or the marketing message –– consumers' memories about the brand were too strong to allow them to view Myspace with fresh eyes and an open mind. We could not escape their images of animated GIFs.

It could be argued that with more time and more marketing dollars, we might have been able to change users' perceptions of Myspace.
Perhaps if your team focused your efforts on promoting your message rather than leaving arsey comments on blogs which suggested your offering was weak, you might have done better.

But then... the offering was weak, too:
Myspace Music has always had a strong brand affiliation with entertainment. Its popular Secret Shows franchise -- a series of free concerts with top artists exclusively for Myspace users -- helped to create an incredible bridge between online and offline experiences and established a certain brand tone in consumers' minds. With the relaunch, we sought to capture the essence of Myspace Music and expand it to other entertainment categories on the site.
I think Michael's wrong here; what he really discovered was that even the shittiest stick will be grabbed if there's enough spangles on off; people came away from MySpace gigs thinking they were great despite, not because of, MySpace's involvement.
However, where Myspace came up short was on utility -- that is, we didn't have a product that compelled users to come to the site every day, something that had true-long lasting utility for consumers.
That's right. People tend to only listen to music once or twice a week.

No, really: if you believe you're the place to go for music, then most people will be popping by whenever they fancy a tune. You had utility; it's just there were better offerings elsewhere that weren't quite so MySpacey.

Mike then indulges in a spot of "boo-hoo, people didn't realise how great we were" sobbing:
As of August 2010, Myspace was interacting with over 100 million users a month, generating billions of page views and streaming hundreds of millions of songs. Yet, despite these incredible metrics, the market value for Myspace was far below the value placed on many other smaller, yet similar, businesses.
I don't want to sound like that woman off the show which tried to sell unsellable houses but a business is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. Your business isn't a billion dollar business if people will only pay a million for it. Values of businesses are all made-up anyway. Yours was just made-up in the wrong way.

Jones seems convinced that a few changes - along with more time to overcome the "entrenched" problems of the existing MySpace staff and the "single point of failure" of having one URL - that there was something at the heart of MySpace which had value. Its new owners seem to also be struggling to find any such point.