I know for a lot of people the idea that MySpace has a blogging community is a tough one to take or perhaps even laughable. At one point MySpace had 500,000 blog posts published daily on their platform, now it is closer to around 300,000 per day. Personally I cut my teeth blogging on MySpace to the tune of over 2 million page views in 2006 with an average of a couple hundred comments a post. Those 2 million views were without the help of social news sites, SEO tricks, image search, or any other tactics traditional bloggers use to gain traffic. (I’m not saying this to brag but to explain that I have seen success using their platform and believe in the community.)
From 2004-2007 I witnessed a growth in MySpace blogging to see writers accumulate large numbers of subscribers. Thousands of people were subscribing to humor, mommy, and other lifestyle blogs that would probably have died an uneventful death had they been on blogger or any other free platform. Communities formed, groups formed, and there was a healthy dose of competition around the MySpace blog rankings. High placement in the rankings led to hundreds of new readers per day, dozens of new subscribers and more interaction. It was truly fascinating to watch a sub community grow within the larger confines of a social network.
However this community has dwindled with the growth of Facebook and bloggers migrating to other platforms. (I am not saying that for the user that is a bad thing.) The biggest catalyst to this decline has been MySpace itself. In looking at the examples of how they mismanaged this community
-It never was an important feature to MySpace- I am not going to kid myself and say that these content creators were important to MySpace. Their business plan clearly revolves around other features (music) and I think that this impacted the attitude and direction they took. But if you are going to deploy a feature to your community people potentially are going to get attached to it and use it. You need to be prepared to pay some attention to it even though it isn’t the main focus of your site.
-Slow to innovate- Did you know that MySpace blogs didn’t include a social news sharing button until 2007? That was probably their largest addition to the blogging platform in years. There are multiple other common features that you will find in most blogging platforms that MySpace lacks. (Setting your posts to not appear until a future date is one huge one.)
-Slow to fix problems- Since blogging isn’t a priority when something broke in the platform it stayed broke for months: video coding issues, not able to use WYSIWYG editor on Mac, paging through old posts was broken, old categories broken, and numerous other errors including the repeated gaming of the rankings. Most of these would last for months.
-Poor customer service- MySpace has a notorious delete first ask questions later stance when it comes to customer service. A number of popular bloggers had their accounts deleted and their content erased as people reported their content to MySpace. Basically if you get enough people to say you find something offensive to MySpace they will just delete the account. Competing bloggers figured this out and it let to a deletion fest of profiles along with the desire to blog by many people. Not exactly the way you want to administer bloggers.
-Focus on the celebrities- MySpace rankings have been taken over for the most part by celebrities, they don’t separate them out onto another list. Additionally they feature celebrity bloggers whenever they can throughout the site. It sends the message loud and clear that they value the voice of the celebrity over the voice of the individual. You can see that when they released the top ten blogs to outside sources at the end of the year. There were regular bloggers that had the numbers to be included on the list that was kept off. I understand this is a promotional move to draw new users but it also has a negative effect on the community.
MySpace has some everything you don’t want to do an active community on a site. They showed them that they don’t matter, that they don’t care, and that their voice isn’t as important as Lindsay Lohan’s. The silver lining to all of this is that it has pushed more and more people off of MySpace and onto traditional venues where their content won’t be held hostage and they will have the ability to spread their wings a little more.