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MySpace has legs yet

MySpace has a PR problem because its users are in places where they don’t have much contact with people who create news that gets read by others. Other than that, there is really no difference between users of Facebook and MySpace, except they are poorer on MySpace.

An interesting new study that appeared on the Harvard Business School blog this week details a study by Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski into the mindset of social networkers in the US.

The post makes some really interesting points – including the fact that MySpace really isn’t as dead-in-the-water as the media would have us believe. It still has far more regular users than Twitter, and contributions are much more equal (90% of twitter posts are created by 10% of the user base).

Now – I’m not going to get into a comparison debate here, because I also have some strong opinions about where Twitter and Facebook are headed in 2010, but for now, let’s look at MySpace for a change.

MySpace is still a force in social networking

MySpace is still a force in social networking

I’ve long believed that MySpace has more staying power than it’s given credit for. It’s not just because of its head start on user numbers (it’s still the number 2 social network in most European territories), it’s because despite the doom-heralding headlines, I’ve not seen any research suggesting loyal MySpace users are reducing their activity on the network.

Yes, new registrations are slowing as Facebook and Twitter et al grow apace, but people are still using MySpace and, importantly, they use it for a reason: music.

The Harvard study goes on to suggest that MySpace isn’t given much attention because it is strongest in smaller regions and cities – not the Londons and New Yorks of this world. Although we don’t definitely know if this is the case in the UK and Europe (the study is US-centric), I would bet that it is. The bulk of MySpace users are there to discover and share new music, entertainment and even art – which is obviously much harder to do offline outside of the big cities. Interestingly, it is also more difficult for brands to connect with audiences outside of the big cities and media hubs – adding to MySpace’s significance for many campaigns.

Essentially, because MySpace has a ‘reason’ for membership and regular use (a narrative theme, if you like) I think it has a longevity that might even outstrip some of the current ‘hot prospects’ growing exponentially in user numbers and media attention.

The Harvard study reinforces my belief that if your brand is looking to connect with a relatively young audience (average user age is 26 compared with Facebook’s 33) engaged in music, arts and entertainment, then ignoring MySpace is a schoolboy error.

New research: Key trends in social media

This presentation provides some great top-level insight into the changing habits of web users. Particular highlights include the rising popularity of video content online (and the relevant drivers for this) and the channels of brand communication that are popular with users.

This is by no means the only presentation offering statistics like these, but there is certainly a common theme among them all: brands that aren’t engaging online are missing the growing commercial opportunities and are falling behind.

Posted via web from Manifest Communications

Portrait of a Twitter user

The latest study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project says that 11% of all adults use Twitter. Well, 11% of all adults in America use Twitter. Well, they use Twitter or update their status online (using Tumblr, Friendfeed or somesuch).

The study offers some great insights but I presume UK stats would be much different in terms of traffic. For instance, Twitter use has increased only 2% since November last year (which the report seems to think is a big growth) but I’m betting UK Twitter growth is much bigger over the same period.

Anyway, the real insight for me was the picture it paints of the average Twitter user – something I think (though happy to hear arguments to the contrary) that won’t be so influenced by the geographic divide. Some of the key stats include:

  • The median age of a Twitter user is 31. Facebook is 26 and MySpace 27, apparently. LinkedIn makes me feel less ‘past it’, rocking in with a median age of 40.
  • Tweeters are city folk – only 9% are from rural areas, whereas a mighty 35% are from urban areas (the same demographic accounts for 29% of all internet users in the US, so it’s a clear trend).

  • Unsurprisingly, Twitter users are more likley to use their mobile to access t’internet – a full 40% of them surf via mobile, compared to a lowly 24% of web users that don’t use Twitter.

  • 57% of Tweeters read blogs, while 29% have their own.

So there you go. Tweeters don’t look like geeks at all. Honest. Now all that’s left is for someone to do this sort of study in the UK. Or maybe one exists and I just don’t know about it. Feel free to leave comments with links to other useful/interesting/geeky social media demographic studies.