Back in September I wrote about the teaser video from MySpace.com of their forthcoming major site re-design that was going to try to bring them back to social relevance. A few nights ago as I sat on my couch I saw an email notification pop-up in the corner of my laptop screen that read ‘You’re Invited to Join the New Myspace’. I was intrigued so I accepted the invitation and thought I would share my initial thoughts on the new site.
After having spent a few days on the site I wish I could say my first impressions had been changed by the final product. As I wrote back in September the design of the site is very well done but it still feels like what would happen if Pinterest created a Metro style app for Windows 8. I say this because moving between different content is clearly reminiscent of Windows 8 and the photo albums, videos and playlists have a more than passing resemblance to Pinterest. This does create a great responsive design system that will look good on desktop, tablet or mobile but the new site crashed constantly when I tried to view it on my iPad.
The first thing I did after setting up my account was to set-up my profile page which consists of a few personal details, an avatar photo and a huge featured photo (seen above). The combination of these elements and their design of your personal page really makes an impression and s different from anything I’ve seen on any other social media site. So with my page set-up I played around with the interface, went through the news in the ‘discover’ section and ran squarely into a huge problem I never saw coming from a social media site – connecting with people.
The new MySpace has no way to leverage your friends lists from other social media services like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. This meant that I had open Facebook in a different browser window and go down the list of my Facebook friends trying to find any of them who also got early access to the site. I found no one. All my searches brought back were songs and band names but no friends. It was insanely frustrating and whatever interest the design had created started to quickly evaporate. Then I realized what this experience reminded me of – the first time I used Ping in iTunes.
With MySpace I was expecting a social network like the old MySpace and the functionality and timeline of the personal page supported that assumption. But when I tried to use the site like a social network my goals was blocked by the music focus of the site and the inability to easily access my list of friends from other networks. This division between user expectations and the music focus of the site is going to cause a huge problem for their long-term success. I don’t think connecting with musicians is a strong enough value proposition to make me add MySpace into my active social media networks. I currently use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and FourSquare but what value does MySpace offer that is so strong and so unique that it will make its way on to that list? Google+ also did a great re-design but no one cared because even the best new design isn’t a big enough differentiator to get people to change their established rituals with Facebook and Twitter. Even Apple tried to put their social media service Ping inside of iTunes which is the most popular music player and download service in the world and it failed for the same reasons. If you want to create share shift and have your site get real traction then you have to create tangible and unique functionality. You only need to look at Pinterest to see that this is true. Pinterest didn’t try to become the next Facebook or Twitter because they created something totally new that had a clear value proposition and this was what made them a success while so many others have failed.
MySpace has to find a balance between their past as a traditional social media network and their future hopes of becoming a music centric social media network. If they stay where they are the resulting confusion of being stuck in between those two worlds will doom them to the same fate as Google+ and Ping where they will be nothing more than a passing curiosity that will end with their brand staying as irrelevant as it is today.