This place is becoming TagWorld central; 90% of my traffic from Technorati and various search engines is coming from people looking for more information on TagWorld. I’ll keep publishing content about them as long as they keep giving me good things to write about; right now I haven’t seen much of the vaunted video and file sharing features they pinged me about yesterday, but I’m guessing they’re working on it. I haven’t completely comitted MySpace Suicide yet, as I still have too many colleagues and friends who use the service and will be hard-pressed to switch to TagWorld.
More after the jump >>
That’s something I was thinking about today. It’s going to be really, really hard for TagWorld to take any of that marketshare away from MySpace. It’s an area of the web that is just now starting to become ingrained in popular culture, but people are so hooked on MySpace that it’s going to be hard to get them switch. It doesn’t matter that TagWorld blows MySpace out of the water in terms of features, because everyday users aren’t worried about features. Early adopters are worried about features, but early adopters aren’t what make MySpace thrive like it does. Much like Facebook, MySpace thrives because EVERYONE you know has an account. The only person I know who does not have a MySpace account is my sister, and she only refrains from getting one because she’s afraid it will take up too much of her study time at college.
Tara wrote a great post yesterday on marketing in the post-Cluetrain era. A lot of the points she made can be applied to TagWorld and their quest for recognition. It’s not going to be enough to offer technological whiz-bang, because Joe College Kid doesn’t care about whiz-bang. Joe College Kid cares about how many of his friends use the service and how many hot girls he can find to hit on via the anonymity of the internet. If MySpace houses 30 of Joe’s friends and TagWorld only has two, you can bet that the majority of Joe’s time is going to be spent on MySpace. People like Derek and I love TagWorld because it’s all Ajaxified and shows a high degree of potential to become the ultimate social networking site, but people like Derek and I (and, in a sense, our readers) aren’t the market that TagWorld is trying to corner. They’re trying to get Joe College Kid and his friends, but the only way Joe College Kid will join the service is if his friends are already on it and rave about it. MySpace spread to 40 million people almost exclusively by word of mouth, and so TagWorld needs to realize that they have to do the exact same thing if they want to take a bit out of the grip that MySpace holds on the social networking area.
Now, this is not to say that they cannot do it. They can. However, they need the active participation of people who are currently using the service to spread the word to their circle of friends. They’ve got nearly 500,000 users, and I can guarantee you that if even half of those people were able to get friends signed up for accounts, then they’d be well on their way to making a stand in the social networking scene. It’s got to happen virally or it won’t happen at all.
MySpace: Featureless, Boring, and Popular
MySpace wasn’t the first social networking site. Friendster and Orkut both came way before it, but neither one had enough whiz-bang (I have coined a term) to keep people interested. MySpace, however, had JUST ENOUGH to draw people in. The first thing that drew people to MySpace wasn’t friends, because it didn’t have any users. What drew people to MySpace in the first place was the ability to share almost every part of your life with friends, even if your friends weren’t signed up yet. It was about possibility. MySpace gave you the option of combining blog entries, photograph streams, likes and dislikes, and music, and wrapping them all in one singular page where people could learn a whole lot about you. That’s appealing. It’s appealing to people trying to make new friends. It’s appealing to old rednecks who hit on hot college girls. It’s brave and scary to be able to share that much of yourself with people, but they DID. Once the word got out, people starting signing up in droves.
The Real MySpace Kicker — MUSIC
Music, it must be said, was the single thing most responsible for the insane amount of popularity MySpace has recieved. There’s millions of kids out there right now who are sick and tired of being fed endless streams of Nickelback, Mariah Carey, and Korn, and they’re not gonna take it. They like bands who nobody else knows, bands that don’t get played on MTV and sell jillionz of records. They typically find an good artists that nobody knows about and claim them as their own. They begin to promote this artists within their own social circles, but because most of their social circle isn’t on MySpace, they have no way of being part of the game. So they sign up. Friends sign up. They sign up, and suddenly they’re part of the elusive club, the underground music scene where no one can tell them what they should be listening to and what they should be wearing and how they should live.
That’s a force to be reckoned with. Even one single teen with minor influence in his area can start a revolution, and the revolution was started by getting everyone he knew to sign up for a MySpace account and CHECK OUT THIS BAND, YO! THEY ROXXX. And you know what? It was real. No record label pushed the band on teens; the teens were the driving force behind the band.
SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE
I can talk about this because I’ve seen it first hand. Back in August, my band (The Favorites) began recording a five song EP. As soon as we were finished with some rough mixes, we posted them to MySpace. Within three days, our friends list had skyrocketed to over 1500 ‘active’ fans. These guys were listening to our music, putting us on top of the charts above acts like Bright Eyes and Rob Thomas, and sending us message after message letting us know that they loved what we were doing and couldn’t wait to see more. It was overwhelming! Strictly by word of mouth, we’d amassed thousands of fans who kept us on the TOP of the charts for weeks on end by listening to our songs thousands of times per day.
So yes, I’ve seen the power of MySpace firsthand.
TagWorld does not have this power yet. It has to go sub-cultural first, it has to cater to those who are willing to spend ten hours a day promoting their latest musical discovery, it has to cater to those people who are looking for social networking and will gladly invite their friends if the service is good enough. In that respect, TagWorld is definitely doing the right thing. They are blowing MySpace out of the water on features, and Tom and the crew are going to have a hard time beating them in that area. With Fox’s help, they should be able to do it IMMEDIATELY, even if it requires a total rewrite of the MySpace software application and database backend. Make it a big announcement — the LAUNCH of MYSPACE 2! Set a date, have celebrities do special stuff on their profiles, give away prizes; and when all the smoke has disapeared, MySpace needs to be transformed into what TagWorld currently is. If it’s not, then they’re going to start slowly losing people to TagWorld’s better service, and eventually it won’t just be early adopters making the jump — it’ll be Joe College Kid and his friends, and they’ll never look back.