Facebook was once the hip new upstart amid a nascent social media landscape dominated by offerings like MySpace and Friendster. (Show of hands — who remembers Friendster?) But it wasn’t long before the Zuckerprise overshadowed its competitors and emerged as the dominant platform for Mafia Wars, Farmville and that Broadway soundtrack that your auntie listens to, seemingly ad nauseum.
But like any medium, service or company that becomes “the establishment,” the social network — which has hundreds of millions, or possibly a billion+, users — has competitors vying to knock it off its pedestal — most notably Google+. So far, it has successfully managed to keep Mountain View at bay, but how would it do against a returning champion? MySpace is itching to find out.
MySpace? Seriously? I know, I know — seems ludicrous. That place became the singer-songwriter’s landing spot, DJ-turned-club promoter’s wasteland and the butt of jokes across all of social media. It has been that way for ages now. And that’s the interesting part. It never really went away. And like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it has been hard at work to resurrect and re-imagine itself.
Since last fall, word has been buzzing about a MySpace redesign that is sleeker, sexier, and only available via invite-only beta test mode. But now anyone can join in the fun, and get “Suit & Tie,” a single from MySpace stockholder Justin Timberlake, as a bonus.
The new MySpace clearly has artists in its crosshairs, and back in November, it revealed how it would reach that target. There are three primary priorities that would help usher the site into the new era: design (creating gorgeous interface that people are compelled to use), discovery (making it easy for users to find new or favorite artists), and fan outreach (offering tools so artists can promote themselves). Users can also define their MySpace pages — and by extension, themselves — with photos, friends, books and other interests, as well as some custom profile options.
The remaining fans of the old version will happy to note that the reboot doesn’t replace myspace.com, but reside alongside it at new.myspace.com. The new design is positively stunning to behold, and the UI succeeds in being elegant and feature-rich. But the real test relies on adoption. MySpace’s resurrection will live and die by the numbers of users it can get and keep. (After all, what’s a social network without the “social”?) Whether it can court that userbase back still remains to be seen.
Personally, the thought of building and curating another profile fills me with dread, although I’m less than thrilled with my current social networking options. At the very least, I’ll tour around this for a little while, and see if my contacts get on board or not.
What do you think? Have you tried the New MySpace yet? Does it have the right stuff to take on Facebook? Let us know what you think in the comments.