Everyday I tell my clients they need join the social media conversation, securing their business’ brand names even when they’re not sure of best practices (much less how to leverage them). As a social media evangelist I usually mention the benefits of using these tools to build their brand. So last month I decided to put my money where my mouth was and did something I never though I’d do again: I signed up for Myspace, years after quitting the social network.
Of course I didn’t always feel that way: over 4 years ago I wrote a guide of how to quit Myspace. At the time I had grown enamored with the emerging social networks and what was being called Web 2.0, so I created a one of a kind blog post explaining why I wanted to leave Myspace and detailing how I deleted my account. Since then I’ve joined hundreds more social media websites, become an online marketing professional, and embraced building my personal brand through public conversations rather than using private accounts. Indeed these days you’re more likely to hear about someone quitting Facebook over privacy concerns than signing up for Myspace.
Since then Myspace has changed. After signing-up I found some important changes, such as integrating Twitter to update my status. I’ve noticed significantly less spam in my message inbox, something which MySpace was notoriously annoying for during its heyday, possibly from all of their new spam controls. Myspace remains increasingly driven by content (musicians mostly), which makes it unique among the social networks.
Along with these changes in how the community functions have come some behavior changes among this audience:
- Average audience is younger and less affluent, and thereby not as valueable for brands
- More users than Twitter, although they’re less active than Facebook users
- users spend less time on the site than other social media
- Privacy controls are much more robust for personal users. In many ways, Myspace allows users to control their privacy better than Facebook
As you might expect, Many of my friends had questions about why I would even want to join Myspace again:
I never got into MySpace because I never knew anybody on there. I’ve always had lots of friends on Facebook. What’s strange is that those two are about staying connected w/ ppl you already know. Twitter has been about making new friends. – Michael Calhoun
Don’t do it! – Steve Petersen
Why would you ever leave Myspace - Lost Plum
Hey I’m never on here…so I’ll see you on fb! – Anonymous friend
Some of my old friends who remained on Myspace were also curious why I would join, so I shared a short essay explaining my reasoning.
In online marketing it is most important to meet your audience where they are, rather than where you want them to be. I’ve been asked if Twitter is merely a platform for broadcasting narcissism, what the ROI value of a Facebook fan is, and that blogs are just a ruse for stay-at-home moms to get free products. While using of social media as a tactic varies based on the strategic goals of each client, I invariably must explain that they can use these tools to listen to consumers and learn from what works (and what isn’t) to improve their business, and not just to improve their reputation. There’s also a first mover advantage for brands who are able to master social media before their competitors, often winning devoted brand advocates who will benefit word-of-mouth discussion for years to come.
I believe the best way to understand new media is to try it for yourself, which is why I have profiles on hundreds of social media websites. While I may use some networks more actively than others, it’s still important to open yourself to new ideas to best understand what makes them useful or valuable. Only through my own trial of these media, some of which failed or no longer exist, was I able to appreciate their potential – which saves my clients investing their time on platforms that won’t help meet their goals. So ultimately I had little choice as a professional to stop worrying and join Myspace.