MySpace's "Discover" Strategy -- Nice Try, But You Won't Catch Up with Facebook

Last Updated Feb 24, 2010 12:56 PM EST

It was painful, poignant even, to read that MySpace has a new slogan: -- "Discover and be Discovered" -- which it unveiled to employees last week. I took it as though the once-mighty social network was straining to discover itself.

What does the new slogan mean? That MySpace wants to become the place where people discover stuff. As TechCrunch put it:

New people they should be meeting. Movie trailers they should watch. Games they may want to play (perhaps against other MySpace users), music they should listen to, articles they should read.
Even though meeting people is still part of the equation, this new emphasis starts to take MySpace several steps away from being a social network in the classic sense of the term--that it's all about connecting people. (Interestingly, I noticed while researching this post that the current logo no longer contains the subhead "a place for friends.") If Facebook emphasizes building social connections who may, or may not, share content, the new MySpace puts more focus on content -- content that is partially obtained via a person's social connections.

In a perfect world, MySpace wouldn't have had to resort to a fairly radical new positioning. But with Facebook far and away the social networking leader, MySpace, as I suggested last year, is forced into making itself something else.

While this positioning makes sense, it's not going to help MySpace rival Facebook. It makes sense because MySpace is still a go-to spot for musicians to promote their music, and it boasts a huge video library. (For better or for worse, when I logged in just now for the first time in months, the home page was begging me to check out the new video from Miley Cyrus.)

But the problem is that whatever MySpace's in-house entertainment assets, it's still the social interactions that count; these are the main mover and driver of content sharing. MySpace has been severely lacking in that department compared to Facebook. One recent statistic shows that social networks account for 15 percent of all traffic to the major portals, but Facebook alone accounts for 13 percent, outclassing even Google. Facebook, not MySpace, is the major source of discovery online because Facebook users are just as capable -- nay, more capable -- of connecting people with content because they are operating in a richer social environment. The content doesn't necessarily reside on Facebook's servers, as it more often does on MySpace's, but that doesn't really matter.

MySpace thinks it has a better way of surfacing content than Facebook, through something called the "activity stream" that not only shows interactions between people on the service but also shares what content they are listening to and watching. That's great. But it will never be dominant again.

Previous coverage of MySpace at BNET Media: