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MySpace’s Community Connection Attempt

April 25, 2009

Hey, remember MySpace?

Anyone?

Chances are, at one time most current college students had a MySpace account, perhaps when they were high school students. But along came college, and with it Facebook, a once college student-only social networking platform. Perhaps it was that college connection, perhaps it was the difference in user access, or perhaps it was the lack of ads and funky layouts. Regardless, users started moving in droves to Facebook, and now many students rarely check their MySpace accounts, or have deleted them altogether. Although MySpace was once the leader in the social network revolution, it is merely half the size of Facebook, with visitor numbers still dropping at 2% per month. Facebook, on the other hand, has seen a more than 16% increase.

Things are looking bad for MySpace. Once thought a brilliant addition to Rupert Murdoch’s portfolio of media devices, MySpace is now beginning to show its age in the constant ever-changing social networking world. In addition to a decrease in visitors, the management infrastructure has been shaken up. COO Amit Kapur has resigned to start his own company, and senior vice-presidents Jim Benedetto and Steve Pearman are following him. MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe officially resigned as of April 22, and it is rumored that fellow co-founder Tom Anderson will follow.

So what is MySpace to do? They have already tried to branch off of social networking with connected endeavors such as MySpace Video, a YouTube-like video channel, as well as MySpace Music, a record label. Criticism of these actions is mixed, but MySpace is still fighting to stay in the hearts and minds of social networkers. By tapping a former Facebook executive as the new CEO, MySpace is clearly looking to win back former participants.

And so comes MySpace’s latest idea: MySpace Local. By combining with the online city guide and search engine of Citysearch, MySpace Local is attempting to connect an enormous online community with smaller, more local, physical communities.

While MySpace has built a community through its social networking site, does it really have the ability to physically connect people?

Let’s think back to the last few weeks in class: There are two things we’ve spoken about in great length: Listening/monitoring your participants, and building community. When it comes to monitoring your participants, MySpace has some built-in monitoring simply by following the comments of people on their site. Combine this with Citysearch’s citycentric monitoring, and it would appear that MySpace has all the monitoring it needs, right?

Hmm. That’s a little tough to tell. While MySpace certainly is monitoring, that doesn’t mean it’s listening. Clearly, MySpace sees some hole that warrants the need to connect people to places, but it’s difficult to know if they are doing this because they truly see a hole, or because they are a fish out of water, gasping for its last breath. And how does an online entity like MySpace go about building a physical community?

It’s difficult to tell what MySpace is doing correctly and what they are doing incorrectly, but it’s been shown to us in class that building any community starts with a strong foundation. MySpace doesn’t really seem to be listening to what people are saying about or doing within their own organization. If this is the case, how can they be expected to build a community? It may be a little too late for MySpace.

Jake Sauvageau

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