Rene Le Merle and I attended Ad Tech, Sydney Feb 2007. In reviewing my many notes I think the most blogworthy mention would be VP Marketing, Shawn Gold from MySpace. Here is my take on what he had to say:
3 reasons why MySpace is so successful:
1. Empowerment of the individual.
Shawn Gold described that “Identification and Individuality” were the key to MySpace survival. Shawn describes how other social networks like Friendster got “connection” but not identification. Myspace provides the youth of today with “identity production” their own personal branding.
2. Connecting people and culture. Shawn describes how Myspace not only provides the youth culture with an identity but for kids in the suburb, who can’t drive MySpace is a way to reach out to others. He makes the example that the freak in his small town can now connect with others and that it is “a great time to be lonely on the internet”.
3. Be a good aggregator. MySpace is not the best in every category but have they have aggregated in a useful way, combining community and content well. As an example they have provided musician & film communities tools to better aggregate content.
And some general insights on the web 2.0 space:
1. This is not a fad that will pass. Sure for the older groups it may seem weird meeting your life partner on the web and may have a negative stigma, but for the youth this is what they know and is the future. They don’t go to the “bar” to meet a partner – they go online. So if we assume this is a new way of engagement with others I’m fascinated to imagine what will be next as this generation gets older and looks for new social network needs.
2. Work with your audience. The key is being flexible to their needs for eg apparently Friendster banned “bands” but MySpace created a solution for them.
3. Prepare for risks around content. Moderation of content is crucial (MySpace has 3 floors of moderators). The challenge is not having enough content but picking it right. The risk is too much on the site.
4. Managing SPAM – of course spam is a big issue for MySpace and Shawn says they are trying to proactively manage for example creating a way for small business to sell their wares and allow users to decide. Another example is “band spam”, users can opt out of band spam.
5. Will web 2.0 survive? Yes it will survive as many are making money and as long as they create active audiences advertisers will want to spend money.