Fellow B5media writer Aaron Brazell wrote an article yesterday entitled The Art of War: Facebook’s Strategic Plan for Ultimate Victory, where he solidifies the example of how the techno elite don’t understand MySpace. In his documentation about the rise of facebook.com he takes numerous shots at MySpace, which are inaccurate or uncalled for. While I respect Aaron greatly, we need to take a closer look at this post.
I know there are a lot of social networking sites you can use to market yourself on, as you surf the web and try to learn about them, you will encounter what I call the “techno elite”. They are the technology snobs that look down on MySpace because of the poor design of the site and programming issues. I don’t dispute that MySpace has these issues, because frankly they do. However, proclaiming the site is on the way out is just pure lunacy. MySpace has been and will be, the most popular social networking site on the internet, it should be your primary focus in your viral marketing campaigns as well. Don’t let the techno elite like Aaron fool you.
Let me go over some of the common misperceptions he fuels with his post from yesterday:
Misperception 1: The Average Age of a MySpace User
It boasts over 60M users and caters to a similar, albeit younger crowd.
It was, at one time, common to sit in movie theatre or a mall food
court and overhear teenagers talking and asking questions like, “Do you have a myspace?” (Which begs the question, what exactly is a myspace? Is that like putting something out on the internets?).
First of all his understanding of MySpace’s demographics is wrong. According to a ComScore report, “Visitors to MySpace.com and Friendster.com generally skew older, with people age 25 and older comprising 68 and 71 percent of their user bases…. Not surprisingly, Facebook.com, which began as a social networking site for college students, also draws a young audience. More than one-third (34 percent) of visitors to Facebook.com are 18-24 years old..”
I have read other reports stating the average MySpace user age is 31 years old. With 36% of the total users being over the age of 35.
Aaron’s perception of MySpace being a younger, teen focused hangout is misinformed and incorrect.
Misperception 2: Facebook is a tighter network than MySpace
Aaron takes the time to slam MySpace and the news that there are registered sex offenders on the site. Which isn’t surprising because there were tons of sex offenders on AOL when it was at its apex. Guess what, popular places where people congregate will draw sex offenders, since MySpace is popular it is taking the most heat right now. I guess facebook doesn’t have any sex offenders registered on it? It was a cheap shot at MySpace in an attempt to make a point.
Aaron talks about the friend adding and search features on the site:
Typical searching that is prevalent in other services did not exist in
Facebook, and still doesn’t. Users have to know someones email address or name to add friends.
While the first part of the statement is true, there isn’t an indepth search feature that we see on so many social networking sites, the second sentence is false. You can go into any group, forum, or other pages within facebook and mass add people at random. There are already bot programs being designed for facebook, and they will have to deal with, on some level, the random friend request problem MySpace has had.
Misperception 3: Facebook is evolving with their users
While this isn’t a common misperception I want to address it before it does become one. Facebook, in order to compete with MySpace, had to open their network up past students and business networks. It was the only way for them to add the mass amount of people they needed to compete for advertising dollars, which no matter how any paints it, this is all about.
Aaron likes to give Facebook credit for adapting and shifting, they did, but not in the way he is stating it.
Facebook recognized that the “MySpace Generation” was growing up. High
schoolers were becoming college students. College students were
becoming young career professionals. Adapting to this changing and
unchangeable dynamic placed Facebook in a position to maintain their
user base and gain more. MySpace, on the other hand, has failed to adapt to the changing demographics and the tide of public tendency.
Facebook realized in order to compete they had to open themselves up to a larger base, they have and their numbers have increased but are still dwarfed by MySpace. As far as MySpace not adapting to their demographic shifts, I guess one would need to understand MySpace’s demographics to make that claim.
Misperception 4: Facebook applications will be the final nail the coffin for MySpace
People can add widgets to their facebook profile, so what. People can add a lot of what is in facebook applications already to a MySpace profile. Most of these companies made little applications to be on MySpace because they realized it was their best spot to gain exposure.
Sure these applications work nicely and have some good features, with Facebook opening up their API, future development is on the horizon. The thing is though, the last I checked the reason people go to MySpace wasn’t for the cool widgets.
People use MySpace to surf other profiles, to interact with other users, to talk in the forums, to message, to read the dumb bulletins, to read a few blogs… The techno elite can rag on MySpace’s poor coding, they can salivate all they want over the new toys facebook has, and they can preach about the downfall of the social networking giant.
The thing is though, they are missing the point on why the average user MySpace, how they view it, and what they want out of it. They always have, they always will, and their credibility and objectivity is blinded by their low technical opinion of the site.
MySpace isn’t going anywhere, while their market share might slip here or there the fact remains they are the dominate power on the social networking scene. The techno elite need to actually recognize why people use MySpace, unlike Aaron and this post on Mashable.