When it comes to popular appeal and the ability to make marketers salivate, other online communities must feel like Jan Brady next to “MySpace, MySpace, MySpace!”
Sure, they have to love it for drawing huge numbers of people online—with a vengeance—and for casting some of its “too cool for school” glow onto them, but they’ve got to hate it, too, because it gets all the attention. Papa Murdoch shelled out big bucks for MySpace, which must have made a few communities feel like wallflowers.
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Regardless, social networks have shifted the marketing landscape. Companies were already struggling to figure out how to do search marketing right, and how to master quant marketing tactics, and now they have to start juggling the qualitative, subjective aspects of advertising on sites like MySpace.
The mix of fickle teen sensibilities and brand preferences, combined with the concerns of being affiliated with a site that’s recently been chastised as an indirect enabler of pedophiles trolling for victims, makes the creation of an online marketing strategy a tricky prospect indeed.
The Internet + teenagers + controversy = massive mainstream America viewership
See Dateline’s “MySpace Invader” special on the dangers of MySpace. Also note the video-game-derivative title to show Dateline’s ability to relate to American teens, though it’s doubtful that the majority of MySpace members were even alive when the original “Space Invaders” Atari game came out.
The Hand that Holds Teen People Rules the World
Companies can’t afford to ignore the new marketing channels and online communities offered by social networks, wikis and blogs, but they’re having a difficult time navigating the terrain. (A story by Marilyn Much in today’s Investor’s Business Daily mentioned the burgeoning online advertising industry and the expectation that U.S. marketers will spend $13.6 billion this year, according to JupiterResearch.)
It will be interesting to see which companies can strike the right balance between achieving teen cred and preserving commercial interests, either on their own or with the help of social network Sherpas, and it will be just as interesting to see what cottage industries spring up as a result of the need for this sort of marketing/advertising guidance.
Be One of Us...
The growing number of company-created sites, online word-of-mouth marketing campaigns, and nontraditional media channels mean the marketing landscape is going to continue along an Impressionist—rather than Realist—vein for the foreseeable future.
So, how long before MySpace gets a football in the nose?
How long can a teen-dominated community retain its coolness once it’s been acquired by Rupert Murdoch, a businessman whose every move screams “establishmentarian”? If he starts dating Angelina Jolie, maybe another 18 months, though judging by Murdoch's fictitious MySpace profile I might lop 10-12 months off that estimate.
Then again, MySpace could be the social network equivalent of the Internet itself, morphing and changing in functionality and purpose depending on the whims, needs and cultural shifts of its membership and social relevance.
Post-"Post"-Script: In the hunt for a snapshot of Marcia getting bonked on the nose, I ran across Danny Sullivan's great 2002 piece "Google: Can the Marcia Brady of Search Stay Sweet?" Must be a sign that the cosmos -- and the online cosmos in particular -- is controlled by Sherwood Schwartz.