A quick check on Xanga’s contribution page shows that they have exceeded the pledge goal of $50K (modified) which means “Xanga 2.0″ will be a reality. As a matter of fact since they once again extended the “deadline” (can we really call it a “deadline” if it keeps moving further out?), people are still contributing – pushing the amount pledged in excess of $50K.
Now that “2.0″ is a done deal, all that remains is the actual eventual transition to the new version, at which point non paying “1.0″ users will be cut off leaving only paying “2.0″ users. As such this will be my final critique on the matter (on “Xanga”, that is, haha ) – since it’s really the “2.0″ folks who should be voicing their opinions going forward.
For those new or nostalgic for my past “observations” about this entire campaign, here they are:
1) The Xanga Paradox and Some Proposed Solutions
2) Xanga Team Q & A: Are They Thinking Clearly?
3) Open Letter to the Xanga Team
4) The Argument Against a “Free” (Ad Sponsored) Xanga
5) A Plan to Keep Xanga Free
6) John, The CEO of Xanga Speaks!
7) Alternative Free Websites Review
I have to say that waiting until the last day (July 31st) to inform the community on what was to become of Xanga was another horrible decision and the height of disrespect and disregard for the needs of the users. Why would they do this? Well, if you think like an engineer and not a marketer, you’ll probably conclude that by waiting until the last day before saying anything, you’ll get the maximum amount of people pledging by the deadline – thinking they will hold back if they knew they had more time. That’s likely true, and worked as expected.
However, from a marketing and “trust” perspective to the community, what was the cost? Answer- continued erosion of trust of the community towards the XangaTeam and another great loss of net traffic. By maintaining an information blackout from July 8th until July 31, the deadline, the XangaTeam forced EVERYONE including those most loyal and faithful – those that already paid to blog on “Xanga 2.0″, to make back up plans by selecting/moving to an alternative blogging site just in case the pledge drive was unsuccessful. Driving your best customers into the arms of your competitors is never a good idea.
I saw many blogs of people stressed out, very upset, and/or in tears of the thought that Xanga was in its final days. Was the extra money that important to put the most devoted folks through the wringer like that?
The excuse received was that they were busy, and finally “came up for air”. The Xanga volunteer “spokesman” said it was a continued communication “issue”, but it’s clearly more than that.
We are not children, so lets get real, shall we? There is truly no reasonable excuse not to give the community any updates until the very last day. The “too busy” excuse is an insult to everyone’s intelligence.
Here are all the updates we got on July 31st:
1) Pledge drive to be reduced to $50K since John was pledging $10K
2) Deadline moved to August 31st due to an agreed extension of the current lease
In order to justify waiting until July 31st to update the community, the ideas of trying to extend the lease to move the deadline and making a “big donor” pledge, would have had to just come to life on July 30th, and then good fortune smiled on them as they were able to resolve those issues and update us the next day.
Here are some quick and dirty updates that could have been easily sent out:
1) We are still on track to delivering “Xanga 2.0″.
2) John is contemplating making a big donation at the end to help out.
3) We are trying to get a lease extension so we can move the deadline back.
Each of those updates only took seconds to write and would have been great stress relievers to those worrying about Xanga’s final fate. Instead, nothing was sent out and folks were left to make their own conclusions.
To me, this seems more of a lack of trust between the XangaTeam towards the community- as in they don’t trust us to be responsible with information. I’m willing to bet that they held back saying anything because they thought people would use it as an opportunity to delay pledging, not trusting the community as a whole to keep trying as hard to raise funds if they knew they had more time.
The end result was they may have extracted a bit more money than they would have by including updates, but in my opinion, they lost a lot more in community respect as well as community members themselves. Figuring the end was near, many folks have moved on to other blog sites and have no interest in returning.
Something also happened this time that was a big paradigm shift, but not that surprising when you think about it – I’m now seeing formerly gung-ho super devoted users that were psyched for “Xanga 2.0″ now becoming ambivalent about whether they even want to stay. I see users expressing buyers remorse over having paid for more memberships in advance. What does it mean when the most loyal and hardworking volunteers for Xanga no longer seem to care?
While we never received the official “mock up” version of new version as promised, we do have a preview of sorts of what “Xanga 2.0″ will be like in terms of net traffic and remaining community. Just viewing your personal page or “Top Blogs” makes it all too clear of how much this place has slowed down.
You see, when there are no further updates and a site closing deadline gets close at hand, a mass exodus tends to happen, and just giving an “all clear” signal at the last possible moment won’t magically get people to return.
And just think – the current community has both future “2.0′ers” and remaining “1.0′ers”. How much quieter will it be when all the remaining 1.0 folks are gone?
Without having at a minimum a free trial for ALL community members, Xanga has ensured the loss of their greatest asset, the built up community base as potential conversion customers. Creating a free trial after the fact of moving to the new version is really too late as those who would have been interested have moved on and won’t likely be returning now that they’ve already relocated.
So Xanga will have to basically start from scratch, like a start up company rather than one of veteran status.
I’m now passing the baton over to official “Paying Xanga 2.0 users” – they will have to be the ones to convince Xanga of the benefits of having some level of free blogging, and that they won’t feel cheated if Xanga changes plans with a free trial or free blogging announcement prior to the big move.
In my opinion, the last best chance of pulling in current “1.0″ users is to announce a free trial or free blogging NOW before the switch. Afterwards, it will be much harder after the last remaining “1.0″ people have left.
Good luck “Xanga 2.0ers” – it’s your future now – make it count.