The new Myspace was officially launched this week and so far the response has been pretty muted. If you take a quick spin around the web’s more popular tech blogs, you’re more likely to find old Myspace stories than buzz about the launch. This appears to have happened by design. The launch did see journalists getting the first chance to sign up and use the new social network, but it’s very much slow burn. Myspace plan to spread membership through invitations, and so far they’ve been at a premium.
That doesn’t mean that the launch taught us nothing about the new Myspace or about social media marketing. The focus here is very much on artists, more specifically musicians. The new Myspace has been created to build a ‘connection’ between artists of all sizes and fans. It’s very similar to the original Myspace, before it lost itself in a blur of dodgy profile pictures, gawdy colors and loud emo music.
As well as being a stunning and innovative new social network, this new service will essentially provide a new social media marketing channel for artists. It will no doubt be used to chat to friends and share photos like any other network but bringing fans and artists closer together is the mission statement. Of course the new site’s owners are unlikely to call it a marketing tool. They’ve been quick to distance themselves from standard social media marketing, confirming they are starting with an ad free service.
But they have also been pretty open in confirming that advertising will become part of the model. They were careful to point out that any advertising would have to be done their way. They have insisted that all advertising will be visually appealing and integrated into each user’s content stream. The quotes from big media draw and key investor Justin Timberlake might actually have implications for all social media advertising. He said, “Brands—anyone we partner with—have to come in with open eyes and open ears. They have to take their own heritage and rework it in a way that fits into our world.”
The Sponsored Story
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The phrase “integrated into a user’s content stream” will send shivers down the spines of most Facebook users. The ‘Sponsored Story’ advertising model that Facebook have adopted has been the subject of some pretty heavy criticism, mainly because, no matter what you call it, it still looks and feels like an ad. The focus for most marketers has been placed on organic shares and quality content creation. That appears to be what the new Myspace will strive for too.
But an advertising model does require an advantage for paid advertising. So any new version of social advertising will have to take a similar form to that of Facebook’s sponsored stories. The question is what?
The Meaning of Integration
There is so much focus on the aesthetic in this new version of Myspace, it’s hard to imagine they will allow brands to just drop their content into content streams in the same way Facebook does. Are we taking the word ‘integrated’ too literally? Is it possible that these new ads will appear in the same physical space as content streams, but not disguised as a story? The bold new design, according to what we’ve seen so far, will allow images, audio and video to run in the background while users carry out other tasks. That might allow brands to position their social media marketing content ‘behind’ the content stream. Giving brands more to work with while creating less intrusion on the user. It would certainly be different, if the ads were done right it could look great.
Focus on Artists and Creativity
Alternatively, if it is to be a content ambush, it appears Myspace will take a big interest in the quality of the content. The new network has a clear focus on artists and creativity so they may be expecting to raise the bar for advertisers. The reference to “our world” may imply that Myspace advertisers will have to focus on high quality multimedia content. It may mean that social media marketing will come even further to the head of the marketing queue for brands. Online and social channels already provide an outlet to share the highest quality audiovisual ads a brand can produce. Myspace may intend to push them to do that through their platform first.
Content is Still King
Of course, this is all speculation based on a few quotes and a video of the new service. It will no doubt become clearer as more and more users get their invites. A few things seem pretty clear though. It’s clear that content creation will become more and more vital in social media marketing. That focus has been happening for other marketing areas, but Myspace may push the need for high quality social media advertising.
There are many reasons that the new Myspace is likely to fail. It has a near-insurmountable challenge on its hands. If they can create a channel that allows for high-quality, unobtrusive advertising, the other social networks will have to take note. If the likes of Facebook and Twitter were to follow suit; that might be something to get excited about.
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