I know it’s been a long time since I wrote you a letter. You may recall last hearing from me in the summer of 1994, when I proclaimed that you and Ryan Gosling were my favorite cast members on the new Mickey Mouse Club (that’s right, we go way back). You also may have noticed that this letter, compared to the first, is lacking in hearts, glitter, and unicorn stickers. That’s because we have very serious affairs to discuss this time around – business affairs, as a matter of fact – that transcend your dreamy good looks and your swoon-worthy vocal abilities.
By now, you’ve probably guessed the subject of my correspondence: MySpace. The once-reigning king of the social platforms, in all its mirror-shot, animated .gif, ultra-scenester, creepy dating site glory. The CSS playground where you could code your profile to the point where it looks absolutely nothing like MySpace, and doesn’t even have the same basic functions anymore. The site that rebranded in 2010 as “A Place For Fans.” The social network you purchased a year ago and has probably been haunting your dreams ever since.
Friend Request: DECLINED.
I watched your video teaserfor the re-launch, and I have to say, I’m impressed. So I figured we’d start with some positive words of encouragement.
1. Hey, Good Lookin’!
The redesign features a cleaner, Tumblr-like layout that seems more fluid and more consistent across the different pages.
2. MySpace On The Go?
Does that horizontal scrolling mean that MySpace is mobile-optimized? I think so! Welcome to 2012.
3. Your Biggest Fan
A cool interactive map on the artist pages show who their biggest fans are, where they live, what they’re listening to, and other audience demographics.
4. Keep The Tunes Coming!
The playlist functions place emphasis on what MySpace really is: not another Facebook, but a place for fans.
Feel free to pat yourself on that muscular back, but we still have a long way to go if you want to get people excited about MySpace, and not My ____ 2.0…because we both know how successful that turned out to be. So here are a few insights for you to consider before you end up with an embarrassment like that time you and Britney stepped out in matching all-denim outfits.
I demand a public apology for this.
1. Don’t force me to create another profile.
Enough is enough. I’ve signed up for MySpace once before, and I don’t want to have to do it again. Instead, work with a vendor like Gigya to enable social logins. Why? Because 86% of people say they are bothered by the need to create new accounts at websites. Are you telling me that I have write a list of my favorite bands/movies/TV shows all over again?! You’re asking for too much commitment on a first date, even if you are Justin Timberlake.
2. Take me backstage.
There are 15 million users steaming music on Spotify. Pandora has 150 million registered users. 3 million users check in to their favorite movies and TV shows on GetGlue. Entertainment content continues to be one of the main drivers of social. So what can you do that no one else can? Make my relationship with my favorite artists more intimate. Show me exclusive photos and footage that no one else has. I don’t just want to know when my favorite band is releasing their sophomore album; I want to see clips of them in the studio, photos of them writing the lyrics. I don’t just want concert dates; I want to find clues for secret shows.
3. Reward me for being a fan.
There is no better motivator than gamification. Think about that Napoleonic ambition you felt those first few months after downloading Foursquare – the thrill of possibly conquering the world, one mayorship at a time. If I’m one of She & Him’s top fans, I expect something out of it. Assign points for actions like listening, sharing, and interacting, then give us the chance to win prizes: merchandise, concert tickets, a ukulele signed by Zooey Deschanel…in fact, a study by Discovery Communications found that 54% of the 400 influencers they polled participated in social media to win prizes and incentives from a brand. And let me display my points proudly. The social Web is shamelessly egocentric, and I want a place where I can show off how totally cool I am.
4. Introduce me to new people.
A lot of people use Facebook the same way I do: as a digital party where only the people I’ve partied with in real life are invited. But as much as I love my friends, we rarely have anything in common when it comes to entertainment (sorry friends!). For recommendations, I turn to Twitter, where I’ve surrounded myself with a community of people all over the world who share the same tastes as me and whose opinions I trust. I’d recommend finding a way to identify and qualify the cultural tastemakers on MySpace, and connecting me with them.
1999 was an awesome year for bleach.
Well JT, I think that’s it for me. Other than a signed glossy 8×10 (see above) and a treasury position in your fanclub, I want you to turn MySpace into the ultimate entertainment and culture destination. A place where I can create custom party videos by synching footage and photos to a soundtrack and share it with anyone on any platform. A place where I can have 90s music listening parties while videochatting with my friends. I want to hang out on MySpace the same way 16-year-old Kim hung out in her room and played her older cousins’ cassette tapes on a boom box for hours.
Very truly yours,
Got any other suggestions for Justin? Let me know in the comments section below, or continue the conversation with me on Twitter: @kimberlyanner