Social Network Failure: What Happened to MySpace? #fail

It seems like forever ago when I last wrote about MySpace on Fresh new template.  Actually it was over a year and a half ago when I was exploring Social Media Sites for Higher Education Marketing, but one quote still stands out as an accurate way to describe MySpace.

”MySpace is like the wild wild west or Las Vegas of social media, dirty and ghetto”

Yup, that quote pretty much summed up MySpace a year and a half ago and now it’s even worse. It’s like an abandoned Detroit neighborhood.  If you look at the below graph (click to view full size or follow the complete link to the left) from website analytics company Compete you will see how unique visitors to MySpace have pretty much flat lined over the last year while Facebook has jumped right over it.  However, look how Facebook has flat lined the last few months… this might be another trend to watch if Facebook has finally hit its saturation point.  At least Facebook got profitable first.

myspace vs facebook unique visitors Social Network Failure: What Happened to MySpace? #fail

So What Did We Learn?

MySpace had sexual predator problems and then came the swarms of spammers, viruses and even porn.    When News Corp bought MySpace for $560 million dollars back inmany people thought the price was way too low.  Although MySpace was profitable for quite some time you always felt like that was because they pushed advertising too strongly and the whole site was just a bunch of unorganized advertisements.  Quite frankly I remember when I first created a MySpace profile probably back in 2006.  I thought the site felt like a badly designed site brought back from the 90’s.

For a while it was a lot of fun, but there is only so much fun we can have reconnecting with old friends before we realize why we lost touch with them in the first place.  People have short attention spans…

I think the takeaways were many but here are a few I would note:

  • Technology changes at lightning speeds (aka things get old and unsexy) – We are talking about years, not decades, between the rise and collapse of this website.
  • Keep It Simple – Remember the KISS rule I wrote about a while back?  Quite frankly it wasn’t very easy to do a lot of things in MySpace if my memory serves me correctly.  Yes, many of those things might be easier now, but the only saving grace I had was the fact I understood HTML and enough CSS to be dangerous.
  • Everyone isn’t a designer – The fact that MySpace gave people so much control over the look and feel of their profile turned out to be a very dangerous thing.
  • Advertising can’t be your only revenue stream (unless your Google) – MySpace sucked in the ad dollars and for quite some time was the much more successful bigger brother of Facebook.  Although it took Facebook forever to begin to break into the green, they appear to be building a sustainable revenue module, and instead of forcing as many ads as possible, they are doing it in intuitive and quasi interesting ways.
  • Third party developers help – You probably know third party programs in Facebook as Applications, and anyone who has ever used Twitter can probably name a dozen third party applications for it.  If you let your rabid fans build upon your produc, there will be new ideas and features that you never thought about come out!

Is Facebook Also Doomed?,

Eventually we have to assume that Facebook will hit that saturation point…the day my mom gets a Facebook account I will know it has gotten to that point  (my mom refuses to learn to text message so we might be safe here… love you Mom!).  Director of Web Communicationjust wrote a post last week about how she had a crisis with her institute’s Facebook page.  This will be interesting to watch going forward, especially since as I noted above they appear to be beginning to flat line on monthly unique visitor traffic.

Final Thoughts

So MySpace is the new Yahoo… it’s the new AOL.  That’s good, but that’s not great.  It basically means they win the silver for second place to hold on and slowly become less and less relevant over time.  Its golden age has come and gone, and although like those other entities I’ve just listed it will probably remain around for a while, it will never be the same beast that claimed over 75% of the market.  Take away the lessons learned and apply them for the better.

What other lessons did you learn from MySpace’s slow decline?  Leave a comment and share!

20 Responses to “Social Network Failure: What Happened to MySpace? #fail”

  1. Says:

    As much as the average person doesn’t think about CMS, and as much as higher-ed types always seem to want more variability, I think that having one crisp, clean, content-rich (yet not garish) template helped Facebook greatly outpace MySpace. I, for one, didn’t feel like squinting to see light grey text against a black background, nor did I want to hear death metal and/or emo blaring at me when I visited a page. Throw in all the spam/pr0n masquerading (not particularly well) as friend requests, and MySpace quickly became more trouble than it was worth.

    I think that may be the tipping point to any social media platform, or for most things we do in life: Do the benefits outweigh the aggravations? Facebook has the former and needs to concentrate on keeping the latter at bay to keep its lofty post.

  2. Says:

    Another important difference between myspace and Facebook - one that is important for highered to incorporate - is that myspace was heavy on the avatar (lots of fake names, anonymity, bands and brands as people etc.) while Facebook emphasized real people and a social graph that reflected the real world.

    In conversations with educators and administrators, I often hear about how online is taking away from real world skills. There is this perception that the online world is all make believe (“Seriously, who could have 250 friends???”) while the real world is, well, real.

    I think the realness of Facebook built more trust and a better community than Myspace. Facebook was successful not because it competed with the real world, but because it complimented it.

    Two specific things:

    There is a huge opportunity to make the “real world” more useful by building complimentary tools. Online does not equal fake. That’s not what students (people) have shown they prefer.

    Second life is shiny. It may be useful for disinhibiting shy kids that get to hide behind an avatar, but this type of engagement doesn’t last (see myspace, and friendster to a fair degree as well). I don’t think it deserves the continued investment or grants.

  3. Says:

    Great post! I think you are right on target that MySpace probably gave people too much control and tried to monetize too quickly (MySpace often made navigation a little confusing to make you click on more pages and view more ads before you got to where you wanted to go). I also think that you are right that Facebook will hit a saturation point, but I’m not sure that means it will be the beginning of the end.

    I tend to equate Facebook’s success in social networking to Google’s success in search. Google wasn’t the first, but they did it well enough that once people started using it, they didn’t feel a need to switch.

    Back in the early days of search, you often didn’t find what you were looking for on your first or second search, which meant you were open to trying a new search engine. Now, most people are happy with the results they get on Google. They’ve come to understand how to structure their search terms to get the best results. It’s much harder to get them to switch if all you offer is an incremental improvement at this point because people aren’t actively looking for alternatives due to dissatisfaction with Google’s results.

    I think for someone to de-throne Facebook, they’d have to offer more than an incremental improvement. I’m not sure what that improvement will be (if I did, I’d be looking for funding for my idea). Facebook has become the de-facto standard for social networking, much like Google became the standard for search. And it has some even stronger barriers. Once I’ve built up my network, I don’t won’t to have to do it all over again somewhere else. Plus, I’ve uploaded pictures as well (Facebook is the #1 photo-sharing site). That’s a lot of work getting that all set up on another social network, meaning major switching costs for users.

  4. Says:

    Myspace has been going down for ages, full of wannabe models and actresses…As you point out the layout and look of it became frankly repellent…I’m not going to miss at all….

  5. Says:

    I think it’s irresponsible for a true marketer to dismiss an audience of 55+ million people, when the same website that this graph is from shows MySpace 200+% above Twitter in traffic:

    Sure, traffic has decreased, but at what point do you decide it’s irrelevant? If 55M people are irrelevant, why do we talk so much about Twitter? What about WordPress, eBay, Amazon, Flickr, LinkedIn, and ESPN, all of which still receive less traffic in the US? (

    My $.02: If your goal and strategy is to communicate with and reach a percentage of your audience, go ahead and dismiss MySpace. We can all see and agree that traffic has declined, but perhaps the community has just started to define itself more and fit within those parameters?

  6. Says:

    I never liked myspace. It became a source for spammers to bombard you with all kinds of junk. For that reason I never signed up with facebook. Linkedin has been better for me but I don’t use it all that much.

    Until they can control all of the garbage in social networks better I foresee all of them eventually dieing or people losing interest.

  7. Says:

    I never like myspace; it’s too cluttered and sloppy looking. Facebook has been a pain for the past year since they started so many applications and games. It’s just too much garbage filling the screen in my opinion. I looked for a clean, smooth looking social networking site for a while and I’ve decided that is exactly what I’m looking for. It has online photo sharing, online video storage, instant messaging, remote webpage sharing, built in blog. But ALL of these features have privacy settings so that you can choose who gets to see you and/or your stuff. There is a wide range of privacy settings and each section is customizable. Zovue has extra features, like online shopping, but you choose to go to the shopping section or not - that goes with everything. is a private social network where you the user picks what and who you see. I think the other social networking sites should follow suit and clean up their spaces.

  8. Says:

    Nice and impressive post it is time of facebook thanks a lot for sharing this unique information.

  9. Says:

    MySpace was definitely one aspect of social media I never was able to get into. And like you quoted…it did seem dirty and ghetto. Too much bling and very little content. No real way to have a meaningful verbal exchange…

  10. Says:

    Myspace too many advertisement in it, from layout, comment box, etc.


  11. Says:

    Hakers around the world like to much the big social networks like My Space,facebook etc

  12. Says:

    Everyone was on MySpace and then one by one they started abandoning it and going to Facebook. I think people liked that they can interact all day with everyone in one big thread. Eventually people will get bored with that as well and move into communicating with others in the real world. How long can one stay interested in reading what they’re network all had for lunch and what they’re thinking before they move on? This is the world of short attention spans and we only do something for so long before we need something else, just like relationships perhaps?

  13. Says:

    Hey, came in from Bing. I’ve bookmarked, thanks. :)

  14. Says:

    Bing tried to dethrone Google, but failed.

  15. Says:

    I just typed a whole long message, but when I hit the submit button my FireFox hung.
    Did you get it or is it lost and I have to do it again?

  16. Says:

    myspace is one of the known social networking, very cool website.

  17. Says:

    Well said “Bradjward”..I could Not agree more.

    To hear Anyone try to disregard Myspace as “Irrelevant” laughable at best.

    Myspace is the Original..the absolute model for Facebook & Twitter..both of which only hold small elements of Myspace capable Designs for users.

    I do agree Myspace is So Creative & open it allows for Creative folk to truly be that.

    Equally..for those of you simple folks that have no Creativity inside of you..Myspace is “Scary”.

    Saying there are no “Real” connections on Myspace is also a joke. mostly visited by Girls between the ages of 8-15..
    Sick & DANGEROUS.

    No policies of Protection whatsoever..either.
    Facebook was Created by a Child & is overseen by a Child..”Literally”.

    “Farmville” or whatever those applications are that “Grown Folk”..waste their time with..ha~!~..oh dear.

    There is absolutely No substance to Facebook or Twitter.
    Twitter of the two is especially embarrassing for adults to be using.

    Myspace is a true Microcosm of the world anymore.

    If you feel people are shady on there..then..
    that Speak Volumes on your ability & or In~ability to Read people well & know them for when they are “playin” or “keeping it Real”.

    We could go on & on as for personality traits & it’s CLEAR..insight into..on Myspace.

    The only people that talk badly of it or “Never got too into it”..are those controlled by their Fear & or Lack of Courage to become the most evolved version of themselves possible.

    I guarantee..those same people do Not..have Open & Honest Lives & or communication in theirs either.

    Myspace is Now & Will remain the only website to truly let People Create a “Website” Not just ‘text” based on either who they “ARE”..or who they “Wish” they could be.

    It is a wonderful Mirror for lack of Personal Growth in people anymore.

    Weak article.
    Linear at best.

  18. Says:

    i miss the days of myspace. i loved to decorate my pate all ghetto like.

    • Says:

      It’s STILL here & STILL..One of the Leading Networking sites & TOP for Music & Artists.

      The other are already starting there fade & far sooner than Myspace ever had any type of drop off.

      There is hardly anyone that will not tire of the Linear facebook & twitter shit.

      They will eventually comeback to Myspace where with a little bit of Effort (just like in life) can express yourself in ANY~way you desire.

      Not Just some silly “App” shit or pre programmed click here crap.


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