Myspace was created out of inspiration from various social media platforms from the late 1990s. Sites like Sixdegrees.com, Match.com, and Geocities fostered a motivation for creating a place of self-expression and creativity, as stated by Myspace co-founder Chris Dewolfe. This led to the creative community picking up on the site first (Kozlowski, 2012). Many artists used it to showcase their music, connect with fans, and share concert dates and media events. It quickly turned into a place to find friends from the real and digital world, share photos, and write blog posts. Its expansion grew over the next few years and became the most visited social media site globally, even surpassing google on page visits. (Kozlowski, 2012).
Myspace was the first social media I truly remember having. I had played various games online that had their own chat rooms, but I never used them to the degree I used Myspace. The freedom and expression that Myspace created coincided with the angsty teenager stage of life, and many turned to it as an outlet. You could connect with people worldwide that had access to the site, and the most divisive aspect was the ranking of your best friends. It could be a way to show others how you felt passively and could cause drama if you fell in someone’s rankings. It got people into coding and programming by being able to change and edit layouts via HTML files. As shown in the examples below, the amount of customization was not only unheard of, it was creating a space of learning a new skill and helping people identify characteristics that made them unique. The songs or playlist you could select for your profile was a way to express emotion. Myspace transcended the bridge between real life and social media for the first time for many people and changed how we treated social media and its power in the real world.
This bridge translated to social media influencers getting their starts. One of the first was Tila Tequila. Her Myspace page is shown below, as well as an example of various notifications or events one would see on Myspace to interact with. She utilized these various engagement methods to build up her following, which led to her having her own reality TV dating show. She has since found a different path, turning to religion and having controversy spread around her conspiracy theory ideologies. While Myspace was impacting these emerging celebrities’ lives, the influencers were also helping to shape social media. They learned to create targeted content for their channels and sites and develop marketing strategies and budgets (ThunderTech, 2017). To stay relevant, sites like Myspace not only had to recognize these changes and how their sites were being used but had to update their policies and formats to help their audience keep up and access the content the creators were putting out there.
This era of reality television merging with social media allowed Myspace to take on that role of catapulting people into stardom. At the same time, regular site users hoped the same would happen to them. This want and need for more attention to social media drew tech talent to Los Angeles, CA, where Myspace was based at the time. This collection of web designers, programmers, graphic artists, and creative minds fostered an environment that would go on to create other new start-ups like SGN, Gobbler, and Cocodot (Kozlowski, 2012). Additionally, it helped get the ball rolling for social media and advertising that is almost every other post we see today. Google and Myspace paired up in 2006 to run Google-based ads on Myspace, focusing on Google Adsense and Google Advertising. This was a smart marketing move for Google since Myspace was overtaking them on page visits. This type of collaboration showed how mutually beneficial these opportunities could be for all parties involved. As seen in the graph below, it created a spike in revenue for Google’s ad stream, creating a chain reaction for the sites utilizing the features by becoming more accessible. Future websites would follow this model that Myspace created.
While visits to and the use of Myspace started to decline in the late 2000s, its influence ramped up. Other social media sites were beginning to pop up all over the internet, and they were following the model that was set before them. They continued to use advertising streams like Google Adsense and Google Adwords. This allowed for new methods of gauging interactions, understanding audience preferences, and connecting creators to consumers. The personalization and customization of Myspace also began to appear in other sites like Facebook and Instagram, where people’s images became crucial to their online personas. The site became centered around “aesthetic and presentation” (O’Connell, 2019). This concept has expanded rapidly to what we see today on social media. People create entire lifestyles based on their photos, videos, and commentary to skew the perception of their lives. Fortunately, I believe more and more people have started to become better at being self-aware, not believing everything they see on social media, and understanding much of it has become fabricated or a false reality.
Kozlowski, L. (2012, May 15). New Life: How Myspace Spawned a Start-Up Ecosystem. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ lorikozlowski/2012/05/15/how-myspace-spawned-a-startup-ecosystem/?sh=7d98152140ba
O’Connell, M. (2019, February 11). From Top 8s to mutuals; MySpace’s forgotten influence on how we interact with the internet. DePaulia. https://depauliaonline.com/39046/opinions/From-top-8s-to-mutuals-myspaces-forgotten-influence-on-how-we-interact-with-the-internet/
Swire, R. (2014, March 6). How Myspace Influenced Modern Social Networking. Parallax. https://parall.ax/blog/view/3068/how-myspace-influenced-modern-social-networking
ThunderTech. (2017, June 7). How Myspace Influenced Us As Digital Marketers and Web Designers. ThunderTech. https://www.thundertech.com/blog/June-2017/How-Myspace-Influenced-Us-as-Digital-Marketers-and