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.
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.