The trend among many of the more noteworthy Social Networks is to expand globally with an eye towards Japan, China, France, and Germany. A few days ago MySpace launched in Japan, MySpace Japan News, at MSpace Japan.
In September, MySpace launched service in France and Germany with mixed results. The biggest problem with their effort is that it appears to be a top-bottom solution. Social networking operates best on a platform that is developed from the bottom-up, allowing members to modify the service according to their needs and interests.
A difficult hurdle to overcome is internal expansion with an emphasis on localization. MySpace is expected to expand into 11 new countries over the next 12-14 months.
How are they going to develop a scalable strategy that allows individual sites to grow independently?
Shouldn’t MySpace’s plans respond to the cultural taste and technological preferences of local members?
Why expand so quickly without a proven model for developing international sites with significant local participation?
To be successful MySpace should follow a formula that I fleshed out in a previous post Why I Would Buy Friendster?
Hackerble Open Source Code-offer members tutorials on how to use code to modify their service based on their preferences and needs.
Scalable Core Technological Infrastructures-encourage data uploading, data sharing, and incorporate instant messaging and text messaging as a key component of the system.
Ugly Interfaces or Simple Customizable Interfaces-let users design their own interfaces and enable features that they want to use. Too many features, ads, and unwanted messages will discourage members.
Avatar Collaborations Within Totally Immersive Virtual Worlds-facilitate the highest degree of interaction possible starting with the use of animated avatars and eventually evolving towards avatar interaction with virtual worlds.
Multilingual Usability, Instantly Translatable Data-the monetization of international expansion hinges on opening up the social network where members of international sites can communicate with the main North American site without language barriers.
Global Branding-international sites must be able to create brand awareness and brand loyalty in multiple international markets.
User-Defined Social Groups, Work Groups-clustering based on local content, local entertainment, local professional interests must be a cornerstone of any U.S. social networks expansion strategy.
Most Europeans who are members of a social network do not rely on the network for the bulk of their communication. They store data via the network, while having real conversations via text messaging on mobile phones and handheld devices. The European market is a rather mature in regard to cell phone use. In the early nineties, I knew several artists and musicians who used a cell phone exclusively. They had no landline. They told me that landlines were much more expensive and the trend was to use the cell phone as your home phone. This trend is now a custom among highly mobile persons all over the world.
MySpace is approaching expansion in a rather static manner. It will remain to be seen just how successful News Corp. will be in globalizing MySpace with such a forced approach.