MySpace: Still Here


It's a sign of the state of the social network world that one of the most anticipated movies of the fall is The Social Network, an account of the rise of Facebook. Just three years ago, MySpace would have been the social network likely to get a movie. A movie that might capture its current situation, however, is I'm Still Here, the mockumentary about Joaquin Phoenix's alleged tumble from the heights of celebrity into obscurity (and hip-hop).

MySpace, in fact, remains big, attracting 61 million unique users in July, according to comScore, second only to Facebook's 146 million among social networks measured by the researchers. And it's trying to escape the looming shadow Facebook inevitably casts with its 500 million-strong global user base. To do so, it seeks to improve its usability; focus on its core audience of youth; and emphasize the sharing of music and entertainment -- all while reminding people that it matters, despite the buzz focused on Facebook, Twitter and newer platforms like Foursquare.

"Not all social media is created alike," said Nada Stirratt, chief revenue officer at MySpace. "MySpace is a social-activation platform. We're drop-dead amazing at getting consumers and creators to participate."

What Twitter and Facebook do really well is act as communications platforms. MySpace, on the other hand, said Stirratt, creates "experiences around stuff consumers are rabid about and tap a brand into those. It's a different kind of consumer and consumer behavior."

The differentiation, she pointed out, can be seen in the status prompt that greets MySpace users. On Facebook the question asks, "What's on your mind?" On MySpace it's, "What do you want to share?"

One of the net's efforts, to develop programs around music, is aided by MySpace's close ties with the music industry: there are over 5 million bands on the network. The idea is to complement its traditional strength in the area of entertainment content, including video and gaming, said Stirratt.

Wendy's this month became the official sponsor of MySpace Music's Get Close program, a competition that gives fans the chance to see the net's featured musicians perform live. With creative from The Kaplan Thaler Group, its first contest asked fans to submit videos of their commitment to community improvement for a chance to see John Legend. The program helped push Wendy's MySpace friend totals over the million mark. It now has a larger fan base there than on Facebook.

"Because of MySpace's reach and the inventory and creative units they have that Facebook doesn't, we group it along the lines of Yahoo, AOL or MSN," said Jason Lowe, precision marketing manager at Wendy's, which has worked with MySpace for the past two years on different programs.

Other brands boast similar success stories, particularly when it comes to MySpace weaving advertising with entertainment content in integrated programs. HP products were placed in several episodes of the the social network's reality series, "Married on MySpace," and the payoff was that HP has more than 1 million MySpace friends. Coke has attracted over 1 million fans to its "Formula for happiness" campaign that is tied to MySpace's Secret Shows concert franchise, which allows fans to vote on which cities should host selected bands' live performances.

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