Die MySpace! Die!
A Cautionary Tale for Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, YouTube...
Filed Under: SocialMedia
Mike The Headless Chicken, who lived for months after a botched beheading. Much like MySpace.
Tom Anderson: Headless Piece of Shit. His baby is dying? Awesome.
Biz Stone: Will His Celebrity-Jock-Strap-Sniffing ways doom Twitter, as it surely doomed MySpace? Either way, it spells s-u-c-k-a-g-e for the independent filmmaker, writer, musician, or anyone else, for that matter, who needs a wide audience. Because Twitter "isn't about getting followers," as he explains on Twitter. It's about sniffing celebrity jockstraps. And oh yeah, pornbots.
All your Twitter users iz belongz to us, and they'll be here forever, no matter how we treat them. Right, Tom from MySpace?
Mark Zuckerberg: He will banish you to electronic limbo if you try to make too many friends. He knows better than you. So what if you're a filmmaker or a writer or a painter? You don't need a lot of friends. FU, it's all about him. And pay $1 per click on a Facebook ad.
You hear that, Tony? Don't get high on your own supply. Top o'the world, ma!
We built this city on webcam models, pornbots, and adult entertainers. Screw off, Orson Welles.
Look, there is a place for this sort of thing. I'm a filmmaker, and I recognize that T'n'A is important. But don't let it consume your social media site, else it will drive away other legitimate, even high-brow, content.
Now that we've verified the sun's Twitter account, let's gaze at it for all eternity. F-ck the little peoples.
Hi! I'm Mark Andreessen. I don't want you to advertise your peon movie on Amazon. It's reserved for Harry Potter and pedophiles who write books about how to prey on young children. But if you're a plumber, you can advertise on Amazon. Nevermind that I have too many e's and s's in my name. I'm a billionaire. I can afford a weirdo spelling of my last name. So piss off. The world doesn't need new filmmakers, authors, or musicians making a living off my site. In the future, every artist will eat dog food and sell one copy of their work of art to their parents, and I will make 75% off of it.
Eventually, Justin Bieber's pact with Satan will expire, all the creepy old women who want to have sex with him will kick the bucket, and the screeching female teenagers will grow up, get husbands and realize, hey, that haircut looks like a comb-over. And you, dear Twitter, will lose millions of users. Just ask Tom.
Gee, you know, I'd consider exploring strange new business models with you, as long as I don't have to talk to any human beings or go outside. My Aspberger's syndrome is hurting me real bad today.
Even I must concur that at this point in the space-time continuum, human beings are far better at interacting with other human beings, as opposed to PHP programmers.
Voices from the Great Beyond have led me to use the correct keyword search to discover the book you have written that no one knows about. I'm dying to read it.
We have a space reserved for you, Tom.
Cable and satellite television offer thousands upon thousands of channels. The Internet offers even more. Given this explosive fracturing of old media into new, it's a great challenge for companies and individuals alike to build awareness of a new product.
Consider the new filmmaker, musician, writer, painter. The same challenges that confront the author of a new novel confront the maker of a new deodorant. Except, of course, the burgeoning author has way less advertising money. Or clout.
So now social media has arisen, offering a fool's gold possibility to the artist. A cheap and effective means to build an audience! Yay!
MySpace was one of the first "big" social media sites, so much so that Rupert Murdoch bought it because his daughter thought it was cool. Or so the half-a-decade-old legend goes.
Here's the other old legend: that MySpace was originally formed to help new artists gain a following. More specifically, new rock bands, but others tried it for their particular art of choice - including yours truly. There were event tools (pre-Facebook), so that bands could invite people to their latest concert. Or, in my case, to invite people to a movie screening.
Given the difficulties in advertising and PR that an indie artist experiences, mySpace was full of promise.
But have no fear, if you wait by the river long enough, your schadenfreude will eventually float past you.
Catharine P. Taylor at BNet wrote an interesting article on MySpace's current woes. Here's a nifty quote:
... the site is down $70 million from where it was a year ago, and the News unit it's contained in - the amorphous "Other" - had an operating loss of $156 million, a hole that is $36 million deeper than it was a year ago. Its performance, or lack thereof, stands out, especially given that overall, News' profit [MySpace's corporate owner] was up 36 percent for the quarter.
Good. MySpace deserves a bloody and cruel death.
Back in 2007 I finished off an indie feature film called Flatland. It was an animated film based on the 1886 novella by Edwin A. Abbott. I'd spent two years working in Lightwave to animate it on my own dime. As a first-time indie filmmaker faced with self-distributing my own film, I looked for unique and cost-effective methods to promote the film and sell it directly to the public. That meant social media. That meant mySpace.
There's a lot of waiting in 3D animation work. Waiting on computers to render animation down to final image. Cultivating a social media following seemed a productive occupation of that down time, so I set up an account for myself and my film on mySpace. I even made accounts for some of my film's animated characters, and had them interact with other mySpace users "in character."
I became a free content provider for mySpace.
But something was bothering me during this "cultivating a following" phase. The numbers weren't adding up. I figured that, out of all those MySpace "friends," I would probably only get a 0.1% purchase rate, if that. There was no way I was going to generate enough of an audience to sell DVD's of my film in any decent quantity. So as I got closer to finishing the film, I thought it might be smart to see if I could purchase advertising directly from MySpace. So I logged in and sent a MySpace message to their "advertising department," a cordial inquiry requesting rates and information.
A week later, I did it again.
Two weeks later.
A month later, I tried again with additional verbiage like: why the hell won't you assholes contact me back?
Finally one of their sales people contacted me. Their prices were way too high and the ROI was dubious.
So I asked if it would be possible to work out a revenue sharing deal. The general thought was, "if you think your advertising channel is so effective, let's share revenue on sales of my DVD."
The response I got back was snotty, to say the least. "We make hundreds of thousands of dollars a day in advertising. We don't consider ideas like this."
I moved on, and released Flatland to the public, and promoted it as best I could through MySpace's free tools. Which sucked. I made a couple of sales and got a couple of film critics to review the film. But really, the amount of time spent building all of that free content for mySpace was a losing proposition.
Then one day, YouTube decided to feature a clip from Flatland on their front page for a few hours. I sold about a thousand copies of the DVD during that time.
So I figured, what the hell, I'll send another message to the mySpace adsales weenies. The basic gist? "Hey, look, I sold a thousand copies of my movie over the course of a few hours when it was featured on youTube." A revenue split with mySpace would've equaled roughly $1,500.00 an hour for them, if the YouTube experience was any indication. So I sent mySpace an email with those basic numbers.
The sound of silence.
A few months later, surreptitiously and without warning, my personal MySpace account was deleted by MySpace. No reason, no email, no warning. Just "poof."
So I spent almost a year building up a following on mySpace, giving them free content, and all for nothing.
One of the many infuriating things about having my account canceled was seeing other accounts still going strong after a year - porn stars, male enhancement spammers, and so forth.
It seemed as if mySpace was only interested in D-list celebrity jock-strap sniffing. It was perfectly acceptable for mySpace to have someone like Bobbi Billard hanging her cleavage out on their site, but they weren't at all interested in new or emerging artists trying to get their work out there.
Bear in mind, I don't have a problem at all with Bobbi's presence on mySpace - but what the hell? I can't tell you how many other accounts (besides my own) that I saw instantly disappear for crossing some invisible line known only to Tom at mySpace. Indie filmmakers, musicians, novelists, and yes, even a sculptor, were all struck down by some capricious, invisible angel of social media death.
Meanwhile pedophiles and stalkers, MLM marketers and porn-bots, seemed to have unfettered reign. The free content provided by them was more valuable to MySpace than the independent band, filmmaker, or writer - and that, ultimately, is why MySpace is bleeding all over the place today.
Fast forward half a decade, and now Facebook and Twitter reign supreme, but the same issues still confront the independent artist vis-a-vis these channels. They're making the same mistakes as mySpace, and their chickens will come home to roost one day. Given the accelerated nature of algorez's Internetz, I do believe I will live to see them all die in lovely rivulets of red ink.
So here are the top ten cautions, as I see it, for these social media venues. Advice given by someone who is, in essence, a free content provider and a potential customer:
Don't Get High On Your Own Supply
You think your social media channel is the bomb. It's how your prefer to talk to your customers. Twitter "allows" potential advertisers to contact them through a Twitter page via a Twitter account. Facebook, same deal. MySpace, same deal. You know what? That sucks. Get a f'cking phone. Or an email address.
Learn to Distinguish Between Spammers and Independent Artists
A spammer sells male enhancement pills. A novelist sells books. Both need to reach hundreds of thousands to generate a viable income. One is evil, the other is hopeful and harmless. Both have to use some of the same techniques (trying to gather lots of friends, followers, or whatever). Your inability to distinguish between the two makes you evil.
TNA is Cool, but So Is Orson Welles
You built an empire on teenage boys and dirty old men thinking they could develop an online relationship with the du-jour tits and ass. Even you, Facebook. Now you have millions of users. Do penance for your ways and make it easier for mankind to discover more than Tila Tequila's cleavage. Otherwise, that will be all you're left with, like Tom Anderson from MySpace. Or, in the case of Twitter and dirty old women, Justin Beiber's hair.
Don't Gaze Into The Sun For Too Long
Now Paris Hilton is on the phone with you, trying to get her BFF of the day a Twitter Verified Account (sure, they've stopped the Verification process, but people still want it - anybody who's anybody has one). Stephen Colbert is hawking you on his show, because you gave him a Golden Tweet Award. You're on the top of the world, ma!
Little people who generate free content for you? Pshaw. It's all about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears!
Well - that didn't work so well for Tom Anderson on MySpace, did it? You know why? Because the little people get tired of being treated like little people. Eventually, the celebrity worshiping and catering - which initially got you so many users - drives away your audience.
Ah yes, I remember when Tila Tequila hit a million followers and managed to get on David Spade's The Showbiz Show. Heady times. All gone, MySpace. All gone.
Live by celebrity, die by celebrity. Die, MySpace. Die.
Your Site Ain't Worth All That
You're at the top of your hype. No need to deal with the little people who might be interested in advertising via new business models or structures. You're taking calls from Sony Pictures, baby!
Until, of course, the bottom drops out and everyone realizes that your advertising sucks balls. $1 per click (Facebook), $0.05 per view (Stumbleupon), or god-knows-how-much from Twitter for a worthless promoted tweet or hashtag? Unsustainable. Just ask Tom Anderson from MySpace. He'd answer but he's too busy looking at Tila Tequila's cleavage from his cardboard shack.
Well, that's probably not true, Tom's probably got "his" already and living well. Murdoch's the one holding the bag.
I do have one theory. I bet the poor corporate bastards who are trying to save MySpace today wouldn't mind an extra $1500 an hour in revenue from sales of my movie.
Keyword Searches Suck for New Product
Don't think that your keyword-based advertising is a panacea for all advertising customers. Who the f-ck is going to be searching for a movie they've never heard of? A sculptor they've never heard of? A song they've never heard?
Keyword searching is passive advertising, and wholly inadequate for those with NEW products that need some name recognition.
The best Internet advertising money I've ever spent was on Clickriver in 2007-2008. It was a keyword-search based advertising model that would display text-based ads on Amazon. It was in beta at the time, and I was able to put as many keywords as I wanted into it. So after I plugged in about 100,000 keywords I was generating thousands of views a day for my ads, and generating a good click-through rate. More importantly, 1 out of every 3 or 4 people who clicked on my ad, bought my movie. I was paying Clickriver (or rather, Amazon) several hundred dollars a day, but that was okay, I was making a decent profit. I would have have happily paid twice what I was paying, because I would have still been in the black. It was nirvana.
Obviously that wasn't going to go on forever.
One day, some dumb-ass-piss-ant from Clickriver called and asked me to stop because it was "ruining the Amazon experience." They wanted me to reduce the number of keywords I was using. It was a two hour conversation, and the guy I was talking to refused to put me through to anyone in charge to discuss their stupid decision. Eventually my Clickriver account was cancelled.
Now Clickriver is pretty much dead, and only exists as a crappy method for advertising services only, as opposed to products. Because when you think of trying to find a service-based business, like a CPA or an attorney, you think of searching for it on Amazon. Morons.
You Have Customers. Not Cows.
You have people who pour their heart and souls into making free content for your site (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube - I'm looking your way)! These people are your customers; they are paying you for your service in sweat equity, which you then monetize through advertising.
Treat your content providers like crap for long enough, they will wise up and leave. Even if you have Tila Tequila's tits all over the place.
Just ask Tom.
You're Pioneers. Act Like It.
Explore strange new business models and advertising methods. Seek out new writers and strange musicians. Boldly go where no run-of-the-mill PHP programmer has gone before.
That's what your ship is all about, isn't it? Risk? Experimentation?
So how the hell does someone who builds a huge social media site end up sticking a bunch of washed-out radio ad salesmen into their advertising departments? For the love of God, engineer some imagination for your sales people. Otherwise, you too will end up like Tom.
No, It's NOT A NAIL
It's tempting for a programmer to think that every problem can be solved through programming.
But some of the problems I mention can't be solved through programming - at least, not in time to save your social media site.
Unfortunately, they need more human beings.
Everyone on mySpace figured out sooner or later that the tech-support department was non-existent. Everyone on Twitter and Facebook will eventually discover the same thing, and when confronted with a problem (spam, harassment, stalker, canceled account, whatever) that never gets responded to, they will leave.
It is ironic that these "social media sites" are so extraordinarily anti-social.
Get some damned humans. Hell, even cheap ones in India. Just get some humans!
Granted, humans sometimes fart and occasionally display emotions. But they are good at thinking, which allows them to handle my last and most important issue...
Lions and Stalkers and Pedophiles, Oh My!
Just try getting an ounce of response out of Twitter or Facebook if you have a stalker scaring the crap out of you. I know people who've had issues. Bottom line: you're shit out of luck. MySpace was the same.
MySpace not only deserves to die, but its founders deserve to go with it afterwards to hell. But not just any hell. A very special hell, filled with the stalkers and pedophiles and other villains that it enabled over the years.
Now you may be wondering why I still have a Twitter account and a Facebook account after spewing a bazillion words about how both companies are basically tools for evil. The answer is, I probably won't for very long because both social media sites will go the way of MySpace: abandoned to the pornstars and spambots and then, ultimately, the dustbin of history.
There is a special place reserved in hell for the likes of Tom. May he be tortured by the monsters he enabled for all eternity, while listening to Tila Tequila's debut album, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
Die, MySpace. Die.
contact ladd @ filmladd dot com