The Web 2.0 era is classified as the second generation of the internet. Web 2.0 companies are focused on allowing people to collaborate and share information online. Social Networking websites are a child of this era. MySpace.com is one of the few companies that made millions of people flock to their computers and turn social networking website into the phenomenon that they are today. Today, when people hear the word MySpace, they think: “wow that was so 2005” or “I wonder if I still have my profile”; however, very few think of the social networking website as a quintessential representation of the Web 2.0 era. The best way to understand MySpace in the eyes of Web. 2.0 is to first provide a historical look and the company and how it became what it is today.
MySpace.com was launched in August 2003 by two ex. employees of Friendster.com ( a social networking website many would like to refer to as the grandfather of Facebook.com). Like most other social networking websites, MySpace was based around a user’s profile page. The profile page featured a place where users could list their interests, educational information, a personal picture, and a wall, which allowed their cyber space friends could write comments on. Many quickly flocked to MySpace.com because they enjoyed the websites “openness”, and they feeling that they could post on it whatever they want online (Random History, 2008). The website also included music pages, which were pages in which anyone from national bands, local artists, or that random person next door could post music that would be streaming free on the internet for anyone to listen to.
For a while, MySpace was the top dog in the world of social networking websites. In 2008, MySpace would officially be knocked out of it’s position as the market leader by Facebook. In order to gain back their position as a leader in the world of social media, MySpace as gone under a rebranding process. The website, whose slogan used to be “a place for friends”, is now positioning themselves as a music website and goes by the slogan “Social Entertainment”. Many other changes in the company’s original platform have also been made as an attempt to compete with Facebook. Although MySpace is no longer the leader in the world of online social networking, and has made many alterations from their original model, the company can still be used as a great platform to examine the Web 2.0 approach and the principles of Wikinomics
Many Web 2.0 companies either take on a Mass Customization approach or a One to One Marketing Approach. According to the article “Customization: The Revolution in Mass Customization”, by Jerry Wind and Arvid Rangaswamy, Mass Customization can be defined as “using a flexible process and organization structures to produce varied and often individually customized products and services at the price of standardized mass produced alternatives” (Rangaswamy, Wind, 2001) . One example the authors provide for this is that the bicycle company Cannondale can provide their clients over 8 million different frame and color variations with their bicycle options.
MySpace does slightly operate on the mass customization approach. The company does this by allowing its users to change how their profile looks. MySpace users can change the color of their profile pages, use different front, and stream millions of different songs on their page. Facebook, MySpace’s main competitor, doesn’t offer the same approach. For instance, on Facebook, users only have one layout for their profile and everyone’s profile essentially looks the same.
MySpace also uses a One to One Marketing approach. In this approach, “marketing is based upon the idea of an enterprise knowing its customer. Through interactions with that customer, the enterprise can learn how she or he wants to be treated. The enterprise should then be able to treat the customer differently then other customers”(Rangaswamy, Wind, 2001). MySpace implements this approach through the recommendations toolbar on the side. The MySpace recommendations toolbar recommends different bands for you to follow or people for you to connect with based on the information the user puts on their profile. For example, in MySpace profile (yes, I had to resurrect it for this case study), I state that one of my favorite bands is the Dave Matthews Band. On my recommendations tab, MySpace recommends that I follow the Dave Matthews Band or Jack Johnson (an artist normally grouped in the same category as DMB). My recommendations bar also links me with people who I have mutual friends with.
Wikinomics is a new business paradigm based on mass collaboration. The four main principles of Wikinomics are Openness, Peering, Sharing, and Acting Globally. Openness is being open and transparent to customers, competitors, suppliers and the open public, sharing knowledge and encouraging contributions from outside the organization. MySpace doesn’t exactly operate on the openness principle; however, the company does in fact operate on the peering principle.
The peering principle is the horizontal network of peers collaborating without formal hierarchical structure. On MySpace, it doesn’t matter who you are. You can post whatever you want to post, and contribute whatever you feel like contributing. One example of contributing whatever you want (regardless of your position in the hierarchy) is the music page on MySpace. Anyone can make post their on music on MySpace. Once a page is set up, anyone can stream that music on their personal profile page. Self selection might be a reason why users contribute their own music to MySpace. Although users don’t get any compensation, they want to get their music out, and MySpace offers a venue in which millions can listen to it, therefore, users are motivated to contribute their own personal tunes.
Sharing, the third principle of Wikinomics, is when intellectual property is shared to innovate more quickly and create more value. Sharing happens quite frequently on MySpace. For example, after the major record labels saw how the internet could ruin their business they decided to join the enemy. In 2008, Universal Music Group, Sony Entertainment, and Warner Music Group all decided to partner up with MySpace. By doing this, the companies allowed MySpace to publish their artists songs as well as allowing users to access mobile ringtones, SMS, and artist wallpapers, all directly from their artist’s MySpace profiles. (Universal Music Group, 2008)
The last principle of Wikinomics is acting globally. Acting globally allows companies to use global alliances and human capital to gain access to new markets, ideas and technologies. MySpace definitely operates on a global market. Starting in 2006, MySpace has offered their website to be accessed from a global market. Today, there are different versions of MySpace based on a persons region in the world. The content of the page changes based on locality. The website can adapt to the local language of the area as well as different cultural changes. For example, in the USA, we say favorites or ask mm/dd/yyyy, in the rest of the world they say "favourites," or “dd/mm/yyyy”. These changes are taken into consideration in the international version of the website. (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 2011)
I believe that MySpace has a great Web 2.0 business model. Their business model works extremely well in online music market. By repositioning themselves as a music website, MySpace’s web 2.0 competitors aren’t just limited to Facebook, Friendster, and Twitter. Now, the company must compete with music Web 2.0 websites like Pandora.com, and YouTube. I believe that MySpace’s ability to adapt on both One to One Marketing and Mass Customization platform gives the company a great competitive advantage. A combination of these approaches are not present in YouTube or Pandora. MySpace’s ability to operate on the Sharing principle also gives the company a great opportunity. Their ability to act as social networking website that offers exclusive music and deals from major recording labels is an opportunity not all other music Web 2.0 website offer. I believe MySpace’s rebranding was great for the company and their utilization of Web 2.0 strategies is working in their advantage and will help place them on top of the social media marketing once again.
Wind, J., & Rangaswamy, A. (2001). Customerization: The Next Revolution in Mass
Customization. Journal of Interactive Marketing , 15(1).
History of MySpace. (2008, August 14). Retrieved from Random History website:
MYSPACE, UMG, SONY BMG AND WMG PARTNER IN LANDMARK JOINT
VENTURE: “MYSPACE MUSIC." (2008, April 3). Retrieved from UNIVERSAL
MUSIC GROUP website: http://www.universalmusic.com/corporate/news35536
International Websites. (2011, February 2). MySpace. Retrieved from Wikimedia
Foundation, Inc. website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myspace