Two posts over the last 24 hours caught my eye due to the stark contrasts between them. Imagine you knew nothing about the two companies, just had the video below on StackOverflow or the TechCrunch article on MySpace—which one would you be betting is ramping up on momentum, and which one is basically without clear direction?
The moral of this story is very simple: companies that articulate concrete, useful end-user scenarios do well; those that don’t struggle.
Case 1: user-scenario centric. Joel Spolsky gave a talk at Google’s campus on StackOverflow.com “a free question and answer site built by developers for developers that has fostered a strong and committed online community in under one year.”
It’s an informative talk, embedded below. I could happily recommend it to any entrepreneur, as it is does such an effective job walking through the problem Joel saw, the competitive landscape, and how his team worked on StackOverflow as a solution. It made me interested enough to go to the site and play around – even though I have nearly zero business being on a site for developers.
Contrast this with TechCrunch’s article Former MySpace Chairman Richard Rosenblatt’s Advice To The New Executive Team. While Rosenblatt goes to lengths to describe why he is hesitant to give advice, he then dispenses with “general thoughts on where MySpace can push forward.” (BTW, don’t you love how people say they don’t want to give advice, and then they do so?!?)
Anyway, Rosenblatt’s advice is admittedly high level, and that’s probably the right tone. Still, Mr. Rosenblatt’s core thrusts are pretty lame, even for general advice. His list:
- Own the spaces that only MySpace can
- Transform your unique UGC into marketable media
- Listen to the community and let them guide YOU
Nowhere in his article is there one mention of a single user scenario that is at all interesting to me as a user and consumer of social media. Yikes. I get that its not his place to offer “operational” advice. But still, when someone who’s been affiliated closely with a company, as Mr. Rosneblatt has, and they cannot articulate a single user scenario, then that to me is a sign of real trouble.
I’m a Rupert Murdoch fan, mainly because he’s built such an amazing track record, and he’s singularly unbowed by the troubles his industry faces. I’m hopeful that his team at MySpace will hit the ground running and create fantastically interesting end user scenarios that would get me and others interested and involved in the franchise that they’ve created.