Short Term vs. Long Term – MySpace and Facebook

MySpace laid off almost half of its staff this week and is reportedly for sale amid reports of continuing subscriber loss to Facebook.  MySpace was the social networking site when Facebook reserved its membership ranks to attendees of Ivy League schools.  It was the first site that anyone could log into and create their personal “space” on the web including photos, music, mini-blogs and more.

It took MySpace less than 5 years to become a star and fall from grace in the markets while Facebook accelerated at a pace that now eclipses that of Google.  What happened?  Well … it’s a case of trying to be everything to everyone and the master of nothing.  It spread itself to thin and lost its way.  Facebook has always been straight forward – you get what you get.  Sure, they introduce new products here and there but it’s a “one size fits all” model no matter if you’re a celebrity, student, housewife, or just a regular joe.

The lesson?  Decide who and what you are and stick to your guns.  An ever changing business model that reacts to short term guidance or market pressures ultimately leads to failure.  We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again – history always repeats itself.

When MySpace was sold to News Corp. it forced itself into the world of short term thinking where quarterly revenue was king.  The pressures to top quarterly analyst forecasts eclipsed a strategic vision that was responsible for its rise in popularity and ultimately led to an ever changing and increasingly complicated social media landscape and mission statement that turned off its core user base.  These users flocked to the simplicity that is Facebook (at least from a UI perspective) and the rest as they say is history.

Maybe Zuckerberg had it right by resisting the pressures for an IPO over the years and keeping Facebook private?  It has meant he can deliver on his strategic vision from a long term perspective rather than a reactionary stance every quarter like most public entities.  You tell me … MySpace is the 49th most visited site globally according to Alexa.com.  That’s nothing to sniff at unless you’re competing against the likes of other social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and a slew of others that rank higher for visitor count.  They’re all competing in the same space.  Pun intended.

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About Michael Hanson

Change Agent and 2011 MBA with more than 15 years of deep experience in Business Development, Marketing, Branding and Technology. Social Media and Mobile Marketing Specialist. View all posts by Michael Hanson

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