The Roast of MySpace…I mean Facebook

In this video by College Humor, Facebook is roasted by its fellow social media outlets. Facebook takes the hits and laughs the jokes off because at the end it knows that it is successful and all the other social media outlets are jealous. Though it is not on the hot seat, MySpace is the butt of all the jokes because it is an easier target, given its fall in popularity.

Video Roast of Facebook

MySpace founder’s defense of Google+

Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson, the founder and former president of MySpace, has a lot to say in praise of Google+. Essentially, he thinks Google+ avoids falling into the “vs. Facebook” trap, as MySpace did. (For more on how that social media “fight of the decade” turned out, visit this post.)

Anderson wrote this piece for TechCrunch not long after Google+ launched in summer 2011. In it, he asks: “Is ‘social’ in Google’s DNA?” Anderson points out that Google has been built on algorithms, millions of which go into PageRank, the engine that fuels Google searches. But along comes Google+, and suddenly Google must cede some of this computer-control to users. Interestingly, Facebook is far more algorithm-controlled than most users think. Its newsfeed is powered by code that ensures you don’t really see everything your friends post, and they don’t see everything you post. Of course, you can change these settings and take more control, but Facebook is legendary for its opaque user interface. Few people know about “lists” (similar to G+ “circles”) or how to manage their news feeds. Anderson worries that Google will eventually add more algorithms behind the scenes in G+, chipping away at user control.

There are more insights in one of Anderson’s subsequent articles, this one appearing a couple months after the G+ launch. In this article, titled “How Google+ Will Succeed and Why You’ll Use it Whether you Want to or Not,” Anderson makes two key points about Google+ and social networks in general.

First off, Facebook and Twitter both succeeded, in his view, by capturing small markets. It went from one university to the next, then to community colleges, then high schools, then companies such as Apple. These small communities became evangelists for the social network. This follows Boyd’s arguments about the passion of early adopters. There is a trade off here. As a product grows beyond largely unprofitable niche groups, it tends to lose the passion of these early adopters. This may have been true for Facebook, but obviously there were enough communities and social connections there to allow Facebook to become self-sustaining and keep growing.

G+ also is capturing small communities, such as techies, “Facebook fed-ups,” photographers, journalists and certain celebrities. It has become a key platform for media pundits, such as Jim Romenesko, and tech pundits, such as Pete Cashmore of Mashable.

Why does this matter? Because unlike a private-oriented social network (Facebook), a public network like G+ (with its Twitter side) doesn’t require that your friends join for it to be useful and engaging. All it requires are frequent posters or “content creators.”

Anderson’s second key point about G+ is that it doesn’t have to be a destination in the way that Facebook is. G+, like all of Google’s applications, is just always there, in that little black bar at the top of your browser window. You will always see when you have notifications. You may not intend to go there, but G+ is where you are. In a recent G+ Hangout, Josephine Dorado, our Collaboration in Networked Environments professor, depicted this as an emerging “collaborative system” that Google is creating. It’s all there in the cloud: G+, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Groups, etc. Instead of a single destination, you have a range of collaborative tools available wherever you go on the web.

From a purely collaborative standpoint, G+ may already have won, you just don’t know it yet.

The Can’t-Miss Fight of the Decade: Facebook versus MySpace

The heavyweight social networking site, Facebook, may have an undefeated record, BUT that will not intimidate the lightweight MySpace from making an attempt to challenge the bigger and stronger media service to yet another duel

With various aspects of MySpace’s critical downfall highlighted throughout this particular blog, the only sensible way to conclude the broad topic would be to recognize its utter acquiescence to Facebook becoming the Networking King of the Internet.

The following is a series of images that demonstrates the current MySpace vs. Facebook competition on a comparative level:

1.) Demographics: As indicated by the following 2011 demographic breakdown, MySpace continues to adhere to the 14-17 year old teen population on a greater scale than Facebook. The role of Facebook is not only geared towards the college student demographic (although the 18-24 age bracket contains the most active users), but also an array of business people who utilize the platform to connect and market themselves on a professional level; whereas, MySpace targets the younger generation of teenagers in order to specifically appeal to their attainment and enjoyment of entertainment media.

2.) Interface: MySpace had been constantly criticized for its inability to organize its flowing data; however, after Facebook implemented the monitored stream of information, MySpace immediately jumped on board and incorporated a similar profile interface. Homepage: MySpace features the top entertainment stories, especially in music, while Facebook provides the friends’ updates and news stream. But, when it comes to MySpace’s individual profile page, the interface is a replica of the Facebook design, even including the Like/Comment/Share and Status Update options.

3.) Spam & Ads: One of the most notable causes of MySpace’s loss of users revolves around the issue of pornographic spamming. (It should be mentioned that Facebook has experienced the same problem in recent months; just not on the immense level of MySpace during its prime years.) The incessant spam through messaging and friend requests was certainly a good enough excuse for users to flock towards the Facebook adversary, which conversely contains strict privacy settings to eliminate such spam requests. In addition, the presence of ads have infiltrated both social networking platforms. The Facebook ad section seemingly targets the user by their avid interests (measured by link clicks throughout the site). On the other hand, MySpace utilizes ‘hypertargeting’ technology that measures the user’s personal activity over a lengthy period and displays ads that fit those distinct categories. The busy MySpace interface attempts to make the ads blend in, but it can be inferred that the entertainment-driven homepage is basically one big advertisement in itself.

4.) Play & Participation: The fact that users are able to connect to their favorite games via Facebook instigates a participatory element that MySpace seriously lacks. Yes, MySpace does consist of a games section, but the ability to play games on the social platform AND the mobile device gives Facebook a leading edge (i.e. Words With Friends). The Facebook apps section is rather versatile since it drives user engagement on the social channel as well as the smart phone, which entices the connection between both available technologies. MySpace games are devoid of that mobile capability; therefore, users are not drawn to the separate gaming area that has absolutely no bond to the demanding mobile tools. Also, in terms of basic naming functions, MySpace displays a user nickname, making connection extremely difficult and ultimately driving users to employ Facebook (full names shown) to instill relationships on a more personal and professional level. Although MySpace does not distinguish itself as a social media platform anymore, the nickname preference continues to make interactions and searchability seem like a chore. Let’s face it, no one wants to put in the extra effort: easier is better; hence, Facebook is the way to go in regards to finding and connecting with people.

In the end, if Facebook did not exist, what would that have meant for MySpace’s future? Would it have grown to be the Networking King of the Internet? Or would MySpace have eventually flat lined anyway? One thing is for sure: the success of Facebook perpetuated the failure of MySpace…and vice versa. Either way, Facebook deserves to proudly throw its fist up in the air, claim its definitive victory, and strut around the Internet with the bedazzled championship belt because…Facebook: you win.

MySpace mess

It’s abundantly clear that MySpace suffered greatly due to a cluttered, confusing interface. This article, How Facebook Learned from MySpace, merely underscores that fact.

One interesting point that this CNN Money article brings up is that MySpace, as a social media pioneer, didn’t know what people wanted in a social media platform.

… MySpace, like everyone else in 2004, wasn’t sure what would make a social network click. So it let its members figure it out, offering them to design their own pages with widgets, songs, videos, and whatever design they pleased. The result was a wasteland of cluttered and annoying pages that were as garish as the self-designed home pages on MySpace’s 1.0 predecessor, Geocities.

Facebook, on the other hand, adopted a stripped down interface that in many ways mirrored the ways people already ware using the Internet to communicate. There may be parallels here in another Internet success story: Wikipedia. This post, re-posted here from the Collaboration in Networked Environments blog, refers to a lecture by Harvard Berkman Center fellow Benjamin Mako Hill on why Wikipedia succeeded where other attempts to create online encyclopedias failed. What it all boils down to is that sometimes you don’t need to re-invent the wheel. A familiar, easy-to-use interface can help people swim in the data stream, as Oosterhuis puts it. People took to Facebook like water.

Why did MySpace fail? Ask Quora

This roundtable discussion on Quora reflects many of the points brought up in our MySpace History and Introduction post.

First, it is difficult to overstate just how difficult people found customizing their profile pages in MySpace. The platform was founded on the idea that people wanted to mainly create spaces for themselves, thus the site’s name. In retrospect, this emphasis on “me” seems rather curious. Social networks are all about connections between people. As mentioned in the post, “The Architectures of Participation,” networks emerge out of these connections. It also seems that networks cannot be self-sustaining unless these connections are put first and foremost in a social network’s vision.

Second, MySpace was painfully overloaded with advertising. This reflected corporate priorities. Boyd’s “Incantations for Muggles” points out that as companies seek to expand and grow profits, they often lose the passion of their users. Perhaps MySpace needed to focus on building passion among its users before it sought to build profits.

Third, one participant in this roundtable points out that MySpace did a poor job of “shipping product,” meaning the novelty quickly wore off and was not replaced or fed by new experiences, such as games and other features. Facebook does an excellent job of shipping product, keeping the experience fresh. Doruff’s ‘Translocal Event’ underscores the important role of play in social, collaborative networks.

The Visual Evolution of the Myspace Design

When Myspace launched in 2003, the social network was geared towards connecting people within a designated social community; however, after the site’s surrender to the powerful Facebook, Myspace endured several rebranding campaigns that literally changed the “face” of the media resource. While the internal purpose and character of Myspace was subjected to a complete makeover—due to its inability to maintain market success—so did the site’s external appearance, in hopes of targeting a totally new demographic. In 2008, Myspace changed the essential look of its homepage, incorporating major focus on the “social entertainment” brand. With a new logo as well as an integrated promotional structure, despite its toughest efforts to drive engagement through the redesign process, Myspace’s desperate attempt to generate user awareness has seemingly continued falter throughout the years. Not even a cosmetic boost could improve upon the bruised platform.

Even though the Myspace redesign strived to garner interest on a different level than before, the website ignored its root problem: basic functionality. In the following years, Myspace would undergo even more design changes (in 2010 and 2011 especially), all in an effort to induce entertainment value. The transformation into an entertainment-driven commodity features a heavily sponsored layout that aims to grab the attention of music fans and promoters. The latest visual elements include an updated logo, ability to share media, organized stream of activity (movies, TV, music, celebrities, etc.), boxed layout, black and white color scheme, toolbar with necessary alerts, subscription options, easier site navigation, badges, and of course: graphic customization for personal profiles. It just wouldn’t be Myspace without the old-school coding device.

Although the Myspace appearance modernized itself to adhere to the Generation Y age group, the mere social entertainment community might have discovered its “niche” a bit too late. With Facebook and Twitter leading the social media pack, Myspace’s fresh look is rather reminiscent of the current Facebook format. With notifications, followers, and newsfeeds (sound familiar?), Myspace still has yet to separate itself from the main competition—even if the site does not recognize other social media networks as actual competition, since it no longer considers itself a social media destination. Therefore, it begs the question: if Myspace both looks and offers the same available media as its “competitors,” then why would a user choose the fading product over any of the other massively successful social media platforms?

This video shed light on Myspace’s newest visual content and the general purpose of the massive redesign: http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/106907962#pm_cmp=vid_OEV_P_P