Creative Roundtable: Myspace: Down With the King

Myspace fills in the blanks with content and fights for relevance with major rebrand


MySpace underwent a major redesign in 2008 that did little to help the social network reclaim its relevancy. So two years later, the site - now rebranded Myspace with a lowercase s - has been radically overhauled again, reborn with a different design and, more significantly, a new mission. Rather than compete with Facebook, Myspace has given up on reclaiming success as a social network and is billing itself as a social entertainment destination for Gen Y.

Content is now king on Myspace.

Rolled out over the month of November, Myspace has created hubs devoted to aggregating content related to music, movies, television and more. Members can explore content (a Glee fan will find everything from an interview with stars Lea Michele and Cory Monteith to video clips on the show's page) and share it within the Myspace community or broadcast it to the wider world via Facebook and Twitter.

A lot of effort has gone into this reinvention, but is Gen Y going to embrace Myspace as their outlet for everything entertainment? OMMA turned to three digital creatives - Claudia Chow of Huge, IQ's Joel Krieger and Attik's Jacob Ford - for their take on the new Myspace.

The new Myspace logo replaces the word "space" with a "fill-in-the-blank" bracket. What do you think of it?
Ford: They were probably pretty happy that they released the Myspace logo around the same time The Gap released their logo. The Gap took the heat, and these guys slid under the radar. I'm never a fan of just leaving things blank like that. When you stand for nothing, you could stand for anything. The good part is they got rid of those three little dudes. I never liked the three little guys. It looked like bad clip art.
Chow: They're basically trying to do what MTV did years ago with the logo changing according to content type. It's nothing new, and there's nothing wrong with the fact it's not new, but the execution is really terrible. The typeface they chose, the spacing of the little black bracket - it's too close to the "y." It's just atrocious.
Krieger: I thought the logo was clever, having "My" and then a bracket and then a visual substitute for the word, but I can't look at it without thinking MTV.

On to the site: Is morphing into a social entertainment hub for Gen Y a smart move?
Krieger: They needed to take a different approach. They took it on the chin from Facebook when they tried to go head-to-head. But I don't know about their Gen Y target. They already have their sites. The sweeter spot for Myspace might be to skew even younger.
Chow: It's almost like they're going the way of AOL. AOL is very much about the content they generate and partner with sources for. It feels like that's where Myspace is headed, and it hasn't proved to be a successful model.
Krieger: It remains to be seen, and it depends on what their strategy is. Before it was this Wild West of personal pages and youthful indiscretion and interaction, and now it's this entertainment hub.

Does the new design appeal to you?
Ford: It's nice, especially the home page. They've got three different looks that you can go with.
Krieger: It's a big improvement over what they had before in terms of the overall experience. They redesigned the experience so users can move through the site easier and find what they're looking for, but success will be measured on how content finds users, because this whole paradigm of informational Web sites - hunting and pecking what you're looking for - is over.
Chow: It definitely feels much cleaner and much simpler than how they had done things before. They've made it a lot easier to see and share content. But I question their overall strategy. They have people coming here to look at aggregated hubs like this Glee page and to share from here, but you have to sign up for a Myspace account to do that. It's a bit limiting.

What do you think of Myspace giving users access to social networking tools from Facebook and Twitter in order to share content?
Krieger: The whole social thing is about being open- source.
Ford: That's great. I'm all for collaboration to move yourself forward. Right now, the content is key for them. How people share that information becomes secondary.
Chow: It's like they're admitting defeat. It's an acknowledgment of where users are going to chat and talk, which is - I am assuming - why they went in the direction of becoming a content hub. They realized the sharing is not happening on Myspace.

Myspace is dubbing select active members "curators" and rewarding them by promoting their profiles with badges. Is that necessary?
Krieger: It's a great way to supercharge activity. There are certain people online who are power users, who are curators of cool, and they wield tremendous influence. If you can empower them with special tools or special privileges, that is right-on, but you can't force that to happen. A lot of it has to do with content. A lot of the content here is very mainstream pop culture, and it seems to me like the curator folks are the ones discovering the more niche stuff.
Chow: These people will have to have some street cred.

How would you rate the new Myspace overall?
Krieger: For the most part, it's easy on the eyes, and there are a lot of really next-generation usability things that they've put in here, like the aggregator and recommendation engines and being able to bubble up content that's relevant to you - that all looks really good.
Ford: I don't think it's a disaster. It's a good thing, Myspace turning over a new leaf. It's very portable. It's very customized. Everything's in sound bites, and it actually lends itself nicely to mobile content.
Chow: It's not something to be ignored. If you have a new indie band, you're still going to create a Myspace page. But in terms of how people interact online, I don't [think] Myspace is breaking any new ground here. They did this too late. This would have been cool two, three years ago. It's not anymore.

1 comment about "Creative Roundtable: Myspace: Down With the King".
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  1. Brad Stewart from Molecule Inc., January 3, 2011 at 11:11 a.m.

    Facebook basically invented real social networks. Myspace was a loser in that space from day 1. (Pretending to be a person, interacting with other pretend-persons is not really social in any real sense). I like this change. This brings MySpace back to what initially made it soar: an entertainment hub. If they can ink deals with studios, publishers and labels, they could become Hollywood online. Best of luck to them!

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