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I was recently briefed by the MySpace team prior to the re-launch of the brand. I had worked closely with the MySpace team back in 2006-2007 and was intrigued to see what’s new with the platform and what value the new platform can provide for brands.
My questions were primarily tied to 5 key areas:
1 – What is the “new” MySpace
2 – Discoverability of content
3 – Brand Value Proposition
4 – Amplification Capabilities
5 – Influencer Identification & Activation
The “New” MySpace
June 12th marked the official re-launch of MySpace.com. You may have seen the comprehensive media blitz tied to driving acquisition of new and nostalgic users. This is definitely not your old MySpace. Gone are rainbow unicorns and other elements that made MySpace what it was in its heyday.
MySpace currently has a user base of 20 million that is primarily 18-29 years of age. The re-launch will focus on positioning itself as the alternative destination for the 18-34 set. One of the key goals is to add enough value with the experience to attract the 29-34 set to increase the affluent user base.
The focus on a highly visual user experience (horizontal scroll vs. vertical) that is grounded in music, editorial & curated content and an advertising light/contextual ad experience was redesigned from the ground up with the goal of increasing the current base of users.
One of the key areas of strength for the platform is the focus on music. From high profile investors such as Justin Timberlake to the 52,000,000 songs free for consumers, MySpace is laser focused on connecting fans with artists and extending those connections through the re-launch.
When I asked the MySpace team to describe the new platform compared to existing platforms the team said that it is part Spotify, part Pandora and a little bit of Pinterest. It was interesting that Facebook was not directly mentioned and after reviewing the platform I can see why.
The key terms that were repeated by the team were tied to affinity, discoverability and connection with the key symbol of the platform being the infinity symbol.
At its core Facebook is a story telling and amplification platform built on individual connections. MySpace, similar to Pinterest, is focused on discoverability and affinity. A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.
One of the main areas of focus with the new experience is tied to Discovery. From the pervasive bottom navigation to the traditional discover tab, “discover” is front and center for the user.
When a user clicks into this section the MySpace team will feature editorial & trending curated content. This is also going to be a key area of aligning with brands via contextual advertising vs. traditional paid units. More on that in the amplification section.
Another key point of discovery tied to the platform is the visually appealing search functionality. Clear text ques and hashtag support is another element to drive discoverability of people, content & brands.
With the launch MySpace has also redesigned its iOS app to offer users the chance to upload animated GIFs and stream “social radio,”. This again is to further enable connection and discoverbility of artists & content.
Brand Value Proposition
A number of my questions were focused on how brands can get the most out of the platform. I asked questions tied to content penetration, ability to support promotion, and opportunities tied to hyper local targeting.
One of the core areas of focus was tied to a brands ability to drive reach & engagement on the platform. I did not get definitive numbers such as those tied to Facebook and EdgeRank. The responses ranged from we will continue to refine the content that is presented as we continue to scale, so this will definitely be an area to focus on as more brands work to connect with users.
Brands with a close association to music & musical artists can find the platform to be a key element to consider in terms of driving sponsorship or activation. From contextual playlists to the ability to connect an artists performance on a show like Jimmy Kimmel that then kicks over to a exclusive live stream on MySpace, there are many opportunities to connect brands beyond the walls of MySpace to create more integrated engagements.
The platform also supports more traditional promotions that can tie into retail activations similar to the Bud Light example below into more comprehensive user engagements such as the 50 shows 50 states 1 day activation from Bud Light.
In-Store Code Redemption
Promotions are deep linkable so cross platform and traditional digital units can support awareness of activations. For brands that require age gating, the Bud Light example also showcases how this is handled in order to present content to those of legal age.
Example of Age Gating
One of the other key attributes to the platform is the ability to drive purchase directly through the platform. This is where a Pinterest comparison comes into play. By enabling e-commerce through the experience the goal is to directly impact revenue for those organizations that choose to leverage the commerce and royalties functionality.
When it comes to content and the importance of visibility of owned messages, I asked a series of questions tied to amplification capabilities of the platform. The following is the breakdown of key points of the discussion.
Owned Post Amplification – It appears that organic post level amplification to increase reach on an individual piece of content is not a current option at launch it is not out of the realm of possibility for the future.
Advertising – The ad types will vary depending on how the user interacts with the platform. There will be ads tied to the streaming service which may morph into a subscription type service to be ad free.
When it comes to in-stream advertising there are a few options to consider:
Log In Ad/Welcome Tray – Brands will have an opportunity to “own” the prime spot of log in prior to the user moving through their feed. This unit looks like a highlighted content unit and is built to look like a contextual placement vs. a traditional ad. This spot is owned by the brand for the day and will initially be available to all users. I did ask about targeting moving forward and that will more than likely be an option in future updates.
In Stream Ads – Brands will also have the option to position contextual ads in the horizontal stream of users. No additional details were shared beyond the fact that this option exists.
Discover Ad – This comes in the form of a contextual ad unit that could be as simple as a playlist that leads into a branded experience. The key again is to leverage the brands association with relevant and contextual content to maximize opportunities for engagement.
Targeting – Ad targeting is based on three primary points of targeting:
1) Demographic & In Platform Behavior – The profile of a user is taken into consideration as one point of targeting
2) Inferences based on Affinity – The final element, similar to Twitter’s focus on the Interest graph is MySpace’s own ability to target based on users affinity signals.
Brand Messaging Capability – One of the key differences between MySpace & Facebook in terms of brands interacting with users is tied to the ability of brands to send messages to users via the MySpace mail & message service.
Extensibility – One of the other key elements is for elements of MySpace, such as the MySpace music player to extend to other networks, for example it is possible to live stream an event via an API onto Facebook if there is a goal to drive engagement with sponsored content cross platform.
One of the areas I was most excited to see is tied to what MySpace calls the Infinity Score. One of the big missing elements associated with the native Facebook platform is the ability to dive deeper into social & topical relevance of users.
With the upcoming launch, it is possible for bands & brands to see who their “top fans”. Top fans are people who have interacted the most with an artist or brands content. Top Fans are then granted exclusive access or available to activate against.
The key for a user to become a “top fan” is directly tied to factors such as impact of shareability through their network, interaction with the content (e.g. music listens) and other factors that MySpace did not fully reveal.
This level of visualization also incents users to continue to engage to maintain their position with this very passive gamification/engagement layer.
It will be very interesting to watch what happens post launch. Some of my questions were tied to considerations around rebranding vs. keeping the MySpace name. One thing is for sure. Most web users definitely have an opinion about MySpace. With the alignment with Specific Media there are definitely opportunities for MySpace to provide value for the right brand.
Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360
Every week we compile lots of interesting stats here at Fanscape. As we approach the middle of the year, we thought we’d share some stats from the first half of this year. The University of North Carolina posted a blog citing a Brief History of Social Media and for this year they noted:
- YouTube tops one billion monthly users with 4 billion views per day, and launched paid channels to provide content creators with a means of earning revenue.
- Facebook user total climbs to 1.11 billion.
- Twitter has 500 million registered users, with more than 200 million active.
- Apple boasts over 50 billion app downloads
- Yahoo purchase Tumblr blogging-social media network, with 170 million users and 100 million blogs.
- Flickr has 87 million users and stores 8 billion photos, while Instagram has 100 million users storing 4 billion photos.
- LinkedIn has 225 million users, while MySpace has 25 million users.
- Pinterest has 48.7 million users, while WordPress hosts 74 million blogs.
- Dropbox has more than 100 million users with 1 billion files uploaded daily.
- Google+ has 343 million users.
- Reddit has 69.9 million monthly users, with 4.8 billion monthly page views.
- There are 156 million blogs.
- An Australian survey found 34 percent of social network users logged on at work, 13 percent at school, and 18 percent in the car, while 44 percent used social networks in bed, 7 percent in the bathroom, and 6 percent in the toilet.
Compiled by: University of North Carolina
Here are some cool things we read about this past week:
In the News
Facebook Rolls Out Gift Giving Feature
Facebook is rolling out a gift-giving feature which users can buy and send items to friends. The gift service will have hundreds of options with more added daily from partners including Starbucks and 1-800-Flowers. Facebook will share an undisclosed percentage of revenue with partners.
Facebook Begins Eliminating Fake Likes
This week Facebook began weeding out “likes” caused by compromised accounts, deceived users and malware or purchased bulk likes. Less than 1% of “likes” on a page would be removed, “providing they and their affiliates have been abiding by our terms,” Facebook stated. Among pages with the most total “likes,” Texas Holdem Poker saw a loss of more than 96k “likes,” Rihanna lost 28,000, Shakira lost 26,000, Lady Gaga dropped 34,000, and Farmville lost 45,000.
Create a Mini Store Out of Pins on Pinterest
ShopInterest turns Pinterest boards into mini-shops, so instead of clicking through to the website where the product can be found, people can buy it directly from the Pinterest page. The new e-commerce platform is great for independent sellers, helping them create a fully-featured online store to generate sales from their followers. To start a store, users need to sign in and select boards where their products are. They then can add a description, prices, shipping charges, and the payment method they’d like to accept. ShopInterest handles the rest. Check out the video here to see how it works.
GetGlue Redesigns Site To Be a Personalized Viewing Guide
Social entertainment platform, GetGlue this week revealed its redesigned website, which transforms GetGlue.com from just a check-in service to a personalized viewing guide for TV, movies and sports. Unlike other TV guides often presented in grid format, the revamped GetGlue.com shows your guide as a scrolling list prioritized by what’s on right now with labels for recommendations and new content. The guide also integrates friends’ “likes” and check-ins. GetGlue uses your check-ins to personalize the guide.
Tweets Will Be Downloadable By The End Of The Year
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced a the Online News Association conference that users will soon have the ability to download their tweets. Many Twitter users have been asking for the ability to download a record of their tweets without taking the time to copy and paste everything. It appears they will now get their wish as soon as by the end of this year.
MySpace Redesigns Site
MySpace revealed this week a video that teases the future of the once wildly popular social network, now that Justin Timberlake and others have steered it in a new direction. According to the company, the fan and entertainment-focused service is being rebuilt “entirely from scratch.” As you can see in the teaser here, MySpace is debuting a media-focused social network which emphasizes imagery, a static footer navigation bar with a built in music player and a left-to-right timeline of posts. There is no official launch date for the new services as of yet. Request an invite here.
Facebook Now Tracks Consumer Retail Purchases
Facebook is working with a data mining firm to show marketers that consumers who see ads on the social network actually buy advertised products. The company purchased data on 70 million U.S. households from Datalogix, which culls information from loyalty cards and programs for more than 1,000 retailers. Datalogix matches emails and data associated with loyalty cards and programs with emails and information required to set up a Facebook account. Using this information, the company can say whether or not a consumer purchased an item after seeing it advertised on Facebook. Datalogix and Facebook have tracked 45 campaigns. In 70% of those campaigns, a dollar spent on Facebook resulted in $3 in sales. This news comes after Facebook last month started allowing marketers to match user email addresses and phone numbers with their own data profiles. The change means that brands can now target users on Facebook even if those consumers haven’t “liked” the brand.
LinkedIn Launches “Endorsements”
LinkedIn this week announced Endorsements, a new feature that allows you to recognize professions for their expertise. Endorsements has launched in English across the U.S., India, New Zealand and Australia. LinkedIn plans to expand Endorsements for all languages and all members “over the next few weeks.” It takes just one click to endorse your connections for a skill they’ve listed on their profile or recommend one they haven’t added yet. Think of LinkedIn Endorsements as “Facebook Likes for Professionals.”
Always Keep Tabs On Your Friends With New Foursquare Notifications
Foursquare has unveiled updated notifications this week that lets users keep tabs on their friends no matter where they go. With the new settings, users can opt to “always” receive notifications when family or close friends check-in somewhere “even when they are not nearby or you have all check-in notifications turned off.” The notifications will allow you to keep up with globe-trekking friends when they are backpacking abroad or to see if they’ve arrived safely at the airport for example.
Global Social Media
Brazil Orders the Arrest of Google’s President of Operations
The president of Google’s Brazil Operations, Fabio Jose Silva Coelho, was arrested after failing to remove YouTube videos that reportedly attacked a mayoral candidate. It’s not the first of Google’s legal concerns in Brazil. The company has been battling government restrictions for months. Brazil has led the charge when it comes to removal requests for content provided by Google. The company had previously reported that it had a total of 669 removal requests from Brazil, with the majority of them being attributed to the Google’s refusal to give up blogger identities.
8 in 10 British Internet Users Are Active on Social Media, with 68% on Facebook
Facebook is the most popular social media site in the UK, with 68% of internet users being active on the site, followed by Twitter (28%) and LinkedIn (26%). A recent study found that the increasing number of smartphones worldwide is leading to an increase in social media use; with 66% of smartphone users active on social media daily, as opposed to 48% of people without a smartphone. It was also found that 5% of internet users in the UK use Pinterest and Instagram.
Salamworld, Social Network for Muslims, Launches
In order to provide a social media environment that is sensitive to Muslim sensibilities, a group of Turkish, Russian and Central Asian businessmen have funded a new social network for Muslims called Salamworld. The site is said to be like Facebook, but with more attention paid to “core Muslim values.” There are 250 million Muslim Facebook users, and the founders of the site believe that there is no halal (Islam-compliant) alternative. In addition to the Facebook-like features, Salamworld will offer advice from Muslim clerics, a virtual religious library, city guides, and Muslim news. The founders hope to attract 50 million users in the next five years.
Print Ad For The CW To Feature Tiny Screen With Live Twitter Feed
The promote its fall TV lineup and take advantage of the social nature of viewers, CW is using a new kind of insert within Entertainment Weekly. The October 5 edition of the magazine will feature an ad with a small LCD screen that will display a video preview of new shows and a live Twitter feed of the last six tweets from @CW_Network. An in-house social media team managing the feed will delete any content that includes profanity or other unacceptable language, but negative comments about CW shows won’t be edited out.
Oreo Creates Their Version of the Daily Google Doodle Using Cookie Icing
From celebrating Gay Pride on June 25 with a multi-colored Oreo, memorializing Curiosity’s landing on Mars with red tire treads on August 5th, and even marking the start of Shark Week with a bitten Cookie on August 12th, Oreo has created a playful, relevant ad each day for nearly 100 days. The campaign is dubbed “The Daily Twist,” and was launched in honor of Oreo’s 100th Birthday Celebration. The campaign will end on October 2, with a live, crowd-sourced ‘twist.’ Oreo will set up a ‘temporary ad agency’ in Times Square, and will take suggestions for the last ad from Facebook and Twitter fans. The suggestions will be narrowed down to eight and opened up to a public vote via Facebook as well as broadcast via a Times Square billboard. The winning idea (Oreo’s 100th Daily Twist) will be unveiled at 2pm. Check out the gallery of ‘Twists’ here.
In London, Kellogg’s Swaps Snacks for Tweets to #tweetshop
Kellogg is bridging the gap between social currency and real-life money by letting customers at a central London pop-up store, pay for Special K Cracker Crisps with a tweet. Allowing consumers to spend their social currency isn’t just a good gimmick, it’s an illustration of the value that Twitter holds in the real world. The twittersphere has been active, not only with tweets from customers claiming their free snacks in-store, but with people spreading the word about the novel idea of products for tweets. The pop-up store is open for four days in Soho and is selling only Special K Cracker Crisps. A live community board that displays #tweetshop tweets as they happen is featured in the store. Kellogg isn’t the only brand to try this tactic. In South Africa this summer, a Cape Town vending machine was set up to deliver free BOS iced team when it received a tweet with the hashtag #tweet4t.
My generation is so connected to each other via the internet, mobile web, SMS, and such, it’s nearly impossible to escape. But none of us really want to! I’m a sophomore at the University of Southern California and we like to stay connected. For us, MySpace is dead outside of the music realm. Facebook would be perfect if we no longer had to cut through the clutter of worthless apps, too many embarrassing tagged photos, and worst of all, parents. And personally, I love Twitter (tweet me @stevemanuel), but many college students think it’s just like updating your Facebook status — at least that’s what my girlfriend over at UCLA says.
I’m in a social fraternity at USC and one thing that everyone has problems with is keeping their Facebook groups, pages and events both private from non-USC students and as socially usable as possible. We use Facebook to share event dates, themes for parties, philanthropy details and invitations of all sorts…and so does every other fraternity and sorority across the nation!
So I thought — why not make my own social network that I can customize to meet my local peers’ needs? I could make a place about our Greek row that won’t get clogged with news and information from another college in another state!
I’ve been feeling a little Twitter exhaustion lately and I’ve noticed some of you have too. It made me stop and ask myself a question: What’s next? Take a look at the tag cloud of this very blog. What jumps out at you? Twitter, Facebook — try and find one more and, yes, there it is — MySpace, and in that order of frequency too. Twitter is the IT network (yes that’s a pun) of the moment (and yes, even with Facebook’s shiny new mug).
I was on a panel recently and I got asked the question, “Now that our moms are on Facebook, will we still use it?”
My answer is that yes, for the moment, we will continue to use Facebook. But we’re all a little more guarded now, aren’t we? Remember what happened when mom got on MySpace? We all fled to Facebook. Now mom is on Facebook and we’re all fleeing to Twitter. Mom will be Tweeting a lot sooner than she was friending on MySpace and Facebook. Mom is catching up fast!
The bigger picture is this. We’re building bigger social networks and getting farther and farther away from the people we really want to talk to. Continue reading
In response to my article the other day in iMedia, several people have asked me what else they can do to market themselves or their company. Specifically, they want to know which of the social networks they should use.
Here are my 5 top line thoughts:
- A) LinkedIn is the best PERSONAL social network tool for business. Meaning that it is the best way to promote yourself. Now, as a company, I want to make sure all of my employees are up on LinkedIn and I want to make sure their commentary about the company is fairly similar, but with their own flair. If people are researching my company, I want them to know that they can look up individual employees to find out more about us.
- B) LinkedIn for your business – Create a group, a thought leadership organization about your specific skill. For example, I wouldn’t necessarily start a Fanscape Group, I’d start a Digital Word of Mouth Marketing group. I’d be the founder and I’d lead the discussions, so that people can always refer back to me, but I’d do it in a thought leadership manner.
- C) LinkedIn for your business (cont.) – I still recommend having a company group as well. This is more about having your employees bond together and exchange information between them. This is public, so people can peer into your company, but more of a transparent internal tool than an external one.
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