News Corp.'s MySpace is attempting to climb out from behind its current state of clutter with a redesign, which will officially debut next Wednesday. The makeover includes improvements on both the front-end and back-end, highlighting more intuitive search capabilities that categorize desired results and a reduction of the currently overwhelming amount of navigation options and ad noise on the site's homepage, a higher quality video player for MySpaceTV with popout and full screen controls.
The site, according to Comscore, still boasts more than 100 million users. But even with the potential redesign, and its recent more persistent engagement with its development community, MySpace is still fighting the user base stigma of being just for kids, teens and less savvy Internet users with a fondness for animated avatars.
In an interview with the Associated Press, MySpace founder Tom Anderson said that the redesign is in part fueled by its desire to shatter its "kids only" image. But in the wake of Facebook's steady popularity with the "grown-up" networking audience, can MySpace earn the trust of business users?
One business with a very broad social media presence, JetBlue Airways, seems to think so.
"We go where our customers go and for us, with our XMRadio and DirecTV features, we know that kids are often making buying decisions for family trips," said Morgan Johnston, manager of corporate communications for JetBlue. "While the kids may not be the ones spending the money they are influencers to their parents. We are always going to have a presence where our customers are."
Johnston, who also manages the airline's very popular Twitter presence, notes that MySpace's very strong market share should not be diminished because of its demographic.
This may be true for business-to-consumer companies but the business-to-business players are seeing it in a much different light. Mike Volpe, vice president of marketing for Internet marketing software firm HubSpot, thinks it might be too late for MySpace to capture the quality of business users that its competitors have.
"We sell to marketing people at companies. If these marketing people start to become active on MySpace we might consider it, but I think right now people are over-saturated with this type of site," Volpe said. "Would I jump in right now? No. I don't think a bunch of adults already on LinkedIn and Facebook are going to hop onto MySpace. It currently makes zero sense for us to do anything with MySpace from a business perspective."
According to Volpe, the attractiveness of Facebook over MySpace does come down to look and feel, even in the wake of MySpace's redesign. "Facebook is very neutral, which makes sense for a business," he said.
A preview of the MySpace redesign can be found in screen shots, courtesy of Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch. For additional takes see the Techmeme discussion.