News Corp. has finally given up on MySpace, selling the social network to Specific Media, an online advertising company.
MySpace's traffic has plummeted over the years, so it's no surprise that News Corp. is eager to unload the social network and move on. The sale price was reportedly between $30 million and $40 million, compared to the $580 million that News Corp. paid to acquire MySpace in 2005. That's a long way to fall.
Here are four lessons learned from MySpace's collapse:
You can't ignore spam
Vandalism, phishing, malware and spam aren't unique to MySpace, but they were obvious problems to anyone who used the social network. Comment spam and fake friend invites were common, profile pages of popular musicians fell prey to hackers, and group pages were routinely attacked by cybervandals. MySpace's failure to curtail these attacks made the site seem inhospitable.
Redesigns won't save you
Even Facebook knows that people hate redesigns, but while Facebook constantly tweaks its interface to the dismay of users, MySpace relied on drastic redesigns as Hail Mary passes to get users back. If Facebook can't even tweak its homepage without causing outrage, how could MySpace expect to turn itself around by changing everything?
Discovery is automatic now
Speaking of redesigns, MySpace's last effort was a doozy. Gone was the emphasis on connecting with friends. In its place was a place for discovering music, videos and games. I submit that people don't want to pour considerable efforts into finding new things. The advantage of Facebook and Twitter is that the discovery comes naturally. A friend links to an article, song or video, and that's it. The idea of building a MySpace profile to hear about new viral videos was doomed from the start.
You can't rely on kids
Young people may be the most lucrative demographic for advertisers, but they're inherently fickle, because eventually they'll grow up. Facebook understood this, and slowly expanded its audience from college students to high schoolers, professionals, parents and grandparents. MySpace never aspired to be a hangout for anyone but young people, and once they moved on, the younger generation simply joined Facebook instead.