I’m outside the 18- to 34-year-old target age demographic, don’t have a band, and don’t understand the appeal of those str@nge t3Xt r00lz LOL. But recently I set up a profile for myself on MySpace. Check it out.
Reasons why I signed up:
- I’m developing an online application that will have at least a few social networking components, and I wanted to understand why MySpace has been such a success (despite the controversy surrounding safety of minors, and poor usability that is almost universally panned).
- Several musicians and bands I like have profiles on MySpace, and I wanted to hear new their music, see videos, etc., all of which require being registered.
- Some time soon, some client of mine will need a web strategy that includes MySpace elements, and I want to be ready.
The default profile layout is visually unappealing, which is not only aesthetically sad but also makes profiles less usable. MySpace offers no help, suggesting instead that one ask around on MySpace for help from other members: “Maybe you’ll make a new friend!”
I searched Google for a tutorial on customizing my profile, and found a cunning how-to with detailed instructions for hacking MySpace layouts; it required solid knowledge of CSS and the ability to create graphics, both of which I have covered. And a couple hours later I had a snazzy profile.
So far, I’ve found that MySpace does a couple of things really well.
- It continually pushes members to invite new people and build a network; the benefit for MySpace is driving traffic and pumping up member numbers to astronomic propotions, which leads to advertising appeal and revenue.
- It does a great job of connecting bands and other entertainment people (comedians, films, etc.) directly with consumers.
- It combines several features — blogs, online classified ads, photos and video and music, instant messaging and email, and the ubiquitous comments — in one slightly messy place, so members have reason to log in often … which again drives up page views and therefore advertising appeal/revenue.
A variety of companies have set up profiles for themselves or particular products. Why not? A profile creates free advertising, requires little maintenance, and offers a chance to connect directly to consumers. And if a company was thinking that advertising on MySpace could be worthwhile, they should certainly start with a free profile first — they’ll want to have ads point there eventually anyway.
If you’re selling to young adults, it’s worth your while to think how MySpace could work for you.
(And while you’re investigating, check out Devin Davis. He’s amazing!)