Surya on Marketing: Facebook/MySpace

This post is from: Surya on Marketing (suryaonmarketing.com)

I’m making a prediction. By the end of 2007, there will be a slew of mainstream media stories on Facebook vs MySpace. I further believe that they will have the tone that the previous MySpace vs Friendster stories had: breathless accounts of how Friendster (and this time, MySpace) made error after error as MySpace (and now Facebook) ate its lunch. And so before these myth-making accounts only made possible by the benefit of hindsight get written, I want to take my shot.

Why MySpace is so over, and why Facebook will only gain momentum.

I’ll submit that there are two fundamental reasons why Facebook is superior (defined as better for today and tomorrow) to MySpace.

The first is simple: Facebook gets that kaizen (continuous improvement) is the new baseline rule of the Internet Economy. It seemed that what American car companies learned from our Japanese friends, MySpace decided to learn the hard way from a 20-something Harvard dropout. When I started using MySpace seriously over the past few years, it started well enough. It was cool to add friends to my profile, discover new music, and reminisce about an insane weekend by posting on a friend’s profile. And then the spam started and never stopped. First it was the ridiculous comments and bulletin posts. Then the ton of webcam XXX girls started asking to be my “friend.” I suspected this had to be a temporary hiccup, right? There’s no way that they’d allow this to continue– especially, since it could be solved so easily using a warning system. But sure enough, MySpace allowed the spam to go on for what seemed like ages. It’s only now months and months later that there’s finally a “Mark as spam” button next to friend’s requests, etc. Adding insult to injury, while being forced to sort through spammers on my own, MySpace insisted on loading up as many ads as they could, by making any action on their site load the maximum number of pages possible. While I shouldn’t have had to leave a page for most actions, MySpace found away to make me load 3-4 pages for each action.

If one problem was a failure to deliver a frustration-free usage experience, the second was a total lack of cool new features. While they may exist, I can’t recall a single new, really cool feature that MySpace ever introduced. In fact, other companies came up with cool things like photo widgets you could embed into your profiles, while MySpace worked on blocking them. So the people who were working on making your site stickier and a more interesting experience for users was the exact group that MySpace chose to attack.

Let’s contrast this with Facebook. I’ve never had any frustrating usage experiences that I can think of. I’ll quickly list the ways Facebook made my experience better and improved it: mobile, AJAX to minimize unnecessary page loads, lack of spam, the mini-feed!, a crisp design, and most recently a cool open platform that added a whole bunch of really cool applications. Facebook never stopped improving their users’ experiences. Japanese auto makers sought to quickly fix any problems and also relentlessly believed in searching for minor (and major) improvements, Facebook it would seem did, too.

My second reason is a little more complicated:

Facebook tries to be useful. MySpace tries to be entertaining.

Facebook defines its mission as being a social utility. They try to connect you with the people who matter to you, so you can do and learn things that are useful to you. The newsfeed best exemplifies this. While at first incredibly controversial, I now believe most users love this feature. I love coming home at the end of the day, logging in, and reading all the important, random, funny, and usually bizarre things on my mini-feed. Why? Sheer entertainment value aside, I feel like it does actually pull me closer to these people. While I might only talk to some of them a few times a year due to distance or schedules, being able to find out what they did on their weekend, where they’re going on their vacation or if they just changed their status to single, makes me feel a stronger connection to them. Birthdays are displayed front and center and have resulted in dramatically improving my personal brand equity scores for the “cares” attribute. Reading the “wall-to-wall” posts keeps me in the loop on which old friends have recently seen each other and what kind of trouble they’re getting into.

I also know that this is just the first step. I fully expect in a year or so to use Facebook to find a friend to see a movie with, to tap into for advice on a big decision, etc. I believe all this data on connections is simply huge, and it’s a certainty that Facebook is working on figuring out how to use this data to improve our (online) lives.

MySpace on the other hand seems to be all about entertainment. I’ve already shared that it has stopped entertaining me and now mostly annoys me, but all the same. MySpace is about changing the look of your profile, blasting the newest song, and endless profile comments. It reeks to me of mindless entertainment. Sorry. I realize the MySpace portion of point two is a lot shorter than the Facebook section, but I’m struggling here.

Random other wrap-up point. MySpace makes more money today than Facebook. No kidding.

If you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes on the sites, it’s easy to figure out why that is. There’s ugly advertising plastered all over MySpace and next to no ads on Facebook. Most of the ads you’ll find on Facebook are the simple flyer ads on the left hand side. They’ve recently made the news for having abysmal click-thru rates. I’m not surprised, but considering that they seem to be basically a throw away, I don’t care. Facebook is clearly determined to figure out the product, then worry about the advertisements. I think they can easily do both, but I get what they’re doing. I believe that Facebook will continue to grow faster than MySpace, and when they decide to focus on advertising, will have no trouble increasing their revenue. Today it’s clearly an afterthought.

5/11/13 – remember MySpace?

5 thoughts on “Surya on Marketing: Facebook/MySpace

  1. I cannot agree with you more. I created a MySpace account a couple of years ago and never did anything with it because the site really did not intrigue me. I also hate the incredibly slow load times on some pages because people load everything on their page. All those little widgets have links back to other sites and when those sites are running slow, so is your little space in the Internet ether. When I decided to check out Facebook (a friend of mine that I went to school with is something like employee #4), I automatically became somewhat attached to the site. I like its simplicity. I also feel in some ways it has a college feel while MySpace has the feel of a Tijuana night club. It is fun at first, but you tire of it quick. Since signing up I decided to sort of finish my MySpace page for the only reason that many of my family and friends have accounts on MySpace. I am trying to convert them, but I will have to see how that will turn out.

  2. While I believe you are 100% on the ball in your analysis I would not count out Myspace just yet. There is a tremendous opportunity online right now to integrate entertainment into the online platform to create a discourse unprecedented in media.

    If Myspace can tweak their MyspaceTV to have great social networking and communication application with great entertainment shows/pieces in comedy, news, music and perhaps sports then they can keep pushing their momentum forward.

    Naturally they need to figure out their technological glitches ASAP and of course there are a lot of holes in terms of proper execution but they still have an opportunity here.

    The problem is in the internet age the clock ticks really fast, so much to the point that you can't plan but have to act and if not you run the risk of losing out really fast.

    Side Note: A year ago my comments page on Myspace was blowing up, now it is every few days. While on Facebook I keep reconnecting with old friends. Facebook clearly has the momentum.

    We will see.

  3. i like the new way to market your self and be a brand, and it's free… but the onslaught of invasive marketers, integrating the temptations of human actions (greed, sex, etc.) opens the doors for destructive behavior in the incorrect hands… but if used properly, facebook and myspace can be wonderful nontraditional (now merging to traditional) forms of communication… the old saying, "give a man enough rope and he'll hang himself" holds true for some, but we rarely have the treat such as a blog like this to "give rope, then use it to fish"! these social communities integrate total media, you could front your band, advertise your modeling site, "become an online star" of sorts… or use it for harm to exploit a classmate, bully, or post videos… what's sacred? Facebook has the more familiar roots for connecting/networking vs. unleashing havoc of your name, pics, and self on myspace… yet both equally entertaining. I perceive facebook as the more calm, friendly, and "homey" connecting, while myspace is the "club, entertainment, and an expose". ps Gotta love the random friend invite from Cali who is hawking her porn site , ha = DENIED, ha

  4. Pingback: Quora

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *