Understand MySpace Before Marketing in MySpace

With tens of millions of users (but probably not the purported 100 million though), MySpace.com is a force to be reckoned with. Especially when you consider that MySpace apparently drives more traffic to online retailers than MSN Search, according to some recent Hitwise data.

But MySpace is hard for us adults to get our heads around. It just doesn’t seem logical: How does it hold the interest of so many — young people, with short attention spans, in particular — despite the facts that the design/usability is so atrocious, the web page creation platform is so frustratingly restrictive, and it’s chock full of so many junk/spam/abandoned profiles?

Um, it’s about looking cool, fitting in, and hanging out. Duh!

Then where do us adults feature in this? Besides offering a tempting place for stalkers and voyeurs to hang out (can you say “Creepy!”?), it’s a promising venue for marketers to hawk their wares. But do you have what it takes to crack it? The most unlikely of marketers seem to have it — bars, bands, and quirky dotcoms (disclaimer: these guys are a client) , whereas big brands like Blockbuster don’t seem to have a clue.

MySpace is a real slice of humanity. Amongst the throngs of teenagers (many of which have their profiles set to private), the MySpace ecosystem is host to concerned parents trying to keep tabs on their kids, college students, obsessed sports fans, realtors. In other words, the Average Joe or Jane. And of course marketers. Clueless marketers. I’ll readily admit I’m one of the clueless ones. Thankfully there is someone I can lean for guidance through this teen marketing minefield… my 15 year old daughter Chloe. You may recall she’s the one with the Neopets blog whom I’ve blogged about before (BTW, she was featured recently on BloggerStories.com… I’m so proud of her!). Chloe has a MySpace page (a private one, so don’t bother looking), and she gets MySpace. I plan to enlist Chloe’s help in marketing within MySpace. At 15, she’ll be the youngest marketing consultant I know!

Before you start marketing in MySpace, you’d better understand it. Because if you don’t, the MySpace community can turn on you the moment you make your first misstep. Just like bloggers can. (Note: many MySpace users are bloggers too. MySpace supports blogging within its platform.) The cardinal rule in MySpace is the same one as in the blogosphere: ‘Keep it real’.

You know who else gets MySpace? Site owners like this one who provide layouts, backgrounds, funny photos etc. to the MySpace community. Those folks are sitting back, sipping pina coladas and watching the moulah from Google AdSense roll in.

Sometime when I get a chance I’ll write a follow-up post to this one and share some specifics about MySpace marketing, like getting large numbers of Friends, using photo animation, customizing your layout, etc. So stay tuned!