Facebook or MySpace or should you even care?

September 28, 2007 at 6:21 am 14 comments

facebook.jpg OR myspace.jpg

Alok (MindShare, Regional team) writes:

During a recent business pitch, after we were done waxing eloquent of social networking and the web 2.0, the marketing honcho asked us a simple question – “Should my brand be on facebook or myspace?” At the time our response was, given what we knew of the clients’ brand and the two sites, facebook.

In hindsight however, though the question seemed sapless at the time, I have been perplexed about what the right response ought to be and on what basis one formulates a response.

Should the response be guided by the buzz surrounding the site, a measure of its perceived popularity? The fact is people have been flocking to facebook since it opened its doors to the hoi polloi. It does seem like the next big thing and why should we not be tempted to seed our brand there. Scratch the numbers a bit and it does not seem so cut and dry. On measures like average daily visitors & time spent per month myspace scores over facebook. So while the current trend and buzz favor facebook, this in itself is not sufficient to dictate a response.

Implicit in the question is an assumption that facebook and myspace are distinct brands and not social network commodities. So does the answer lay in assessing which has a better fit with the client’s brand ala CelebZ? Should the current portrait of myspace as ‘a site for soliciting’ serve as a reason to exclude it despite its larger user base?

Social networks by definition should imply a niche. They should be a network of individuals unified around a shared interest or idea. Today, however these networks work more as aggregators of individuals who then, on their own volition, form their social circle of interests. In absence of distinct identities, what motivates individuals to choose one network over the other (or am I wrong and they do have distinct personas…)? And if someone should host a network focused on college students, will we see a migration from facebook of its original members?

In the future, as social networking sites proliferate, will they define their identities more sharply or will they remain the generic places for friends to connect, meet, and get together? And if this should happen, will it make it easier to choose which one would be right for our clients’ brands.

Still trying to get my head around this one and urge blog thoughts.

Entry filed under: media general, social media.

Asian youth and the mobile phone Global digital stats report

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ju  |  September 28, 2007 at 6:44 am

    Hey Alok – great post and very timely too! I think any social network need to be defined by a strong identity that unites all the members or else it will fade and die out very fast. In my view, what unites MySpace is music and the arts, so even though people say it’s dying, I think it’s merely filtering out those who are not as music-obsessed as their core members. So, in answer to your question, I believe the theme for each social network will defined even more strongly and become more fragmented. We can already see this happening with Ning, a plaform that allows people to create their own social network. The latest news is that it now has 100,000 plus individual social networks to its name.

  • 2. Praveen (MindShare Bangalore)  |  October 3, 2007 at 6:44 am

    Hi Alok

    Social networks need to bring in some unique benefit for its users – otherwise, there is no reason for users (and hence advertisers) to choose one over the other .

    Where most social networks were focussing on reconnecting with old friends, a ‘networking’ site (in the real sense of the term) like LinkedIn differentiated itself and made a success out of it, by focussing on business contacts.

    An interesting aside is that most users on friend networking sites have only their existing friends as part of their ‘network’ – some even put up notes saying ‘if you don’t know me, dont get in touch with me’ !! Networking ??


  • […] Original post by Praveen (MindShare Bangalore) […]

  • 4. Jun Lao  |  October 7, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Hi Alok,

    dont know if you remember me but you interviewed me once in when you were here in Manila, and I believe my friend Rachelle is there with you now 🙂

    growing clients’ money perspective- utilize both- doesn’t matter what the sites’ identities are. The beauty with these ‘social web sites’ is you can actually target your market via ‘interest search’ and user profiles which can specifically target a/s/l. In short, precise hits may be made regardless what their niches are.

    my 0.02 cents on these sites- like praveen stated- networking? I think these sites more than anything gives everyone the chance to enhance their image… It is this reason that the ‘site’ which is able to ‘best enhance’ the users digital shadow best who will eventually win in the end.

  • 5. Alefiyah Faizullabhoy  |  October 9, 2007 at 3:23 am

    Mapping a site personality to clients brands, may be part of the approach, Alok. Or rather a careful look at the kind of things that happen on the site are a good indicator of the profile of people that gather.

    The two sites by this measure are vastly different.

    And there is for sure enough duplication between the two sites for clients who need the numbers.

    With this space growing aggressively, country preferences emerging, and newer players carving their own niche, it’s an interesting game to watch and play. Even FaceBook and My Space are constantly changing to keep up.

    Read Fortune’s excellent article “MySpace Strikes back” in the Oct 15th, 2007 issue. The issue is full of references to the two sites, and attempts to differentiate them. A section is devoted to Bebo as well.
    You may click through these for reference as well :

  • 6. Yousuf Rangoonwala  |  October 22, 2007 at 9:33 am

    Hi Alok!

    Fantastically interesting post!

    It’s a question a lot of us in the business – ones who tow-towed it even before it became a buzz and those who were scpetical and still are – are pondering over as we look outside through our desk-side windows.

    I think the answer (?) lies in a key statement you made (social networking implies collective gathering over a common issue) and I’m but compelled to compare this intriguing phenomenon to the splurge in niche TV channels.

    From how facebook’s “perceived popularity” has grown (the numbers may still indicate Myspace calls the shots but I’m certain the growth in number of users globally over the past 3 months for facebook is much higher), it’s evident that social networking sites are much more about expressing collective opinion, increasing personal popularity than getting in touch with old friends et al.

    The slow but steady decline of simple “get in touch with Rip Van Winkle and all other long lost friends” sites such as friendster, orkut, the dismal survival of hi5, tag and openBC should cement this further.

    And a closer daily usage of facebook (it’s a great bird’s eye view perception forming tool if you have over 150+ contacts on your list) and even Myspace will reveal what people are actually using it for – for doing things to their friends who they think will respond “similarly”, taking personality tests, forming groups, creating applications and adding photos. It’s self-discovery. Just that the lens is dual focus: tele-self and wide-others.

    The objective is simple and yet again the same: That’s me. What about you? Let’s keep in touch.

    Going back to what I mentioned about the burst of dime-a-dozen TV channels in the 80s-90s in the West and 90s-new millennium in the East. There was a need to cater to self-discovery (albeit passive) and one TV and one channel wasnn’t enough. Action lovers needed an AXN. Nature enthusiasts wanted a Discovery. Someone said, “Hey, I can do this too” and you had NatGeo.

    And soon came the housewife’s dose of NBC and Star World. Sports fans had ESPN. Business freaks won CNBC. You get the drift.

    I have a gut feeling (my stomach often has these and other illnesses) social networking, rather Web applications, are going to turn into the same. It’s what I personally call the “human screen affinity”. It’s what we do with everything that comes with a screen.

    Cinema was too big to handle so we created TV. We got bored so came channels. VCRs and DVDs followed as back-up. Then came computers. The Internet was fun. Now the Internet is boring but it tells us about all things fun. Social networking is the new kid – a little naughty, explorative. The future will be FacebookTravel, MyspaceAction, FriendMoviester, etc.

    Now, the point that should have come long ago instead of this marathon – should brands care?

    I think – yes. As long as the objective is to enable people to come together, do things (the age old “engagement”, “involvement”, brands should be conscious about how social networking is growing, how they can fit in and also which sites are popular and why. It’s like saying if you’re an outdoor gear brand and you’re not on AXN, it’s kinda odd.


  • 7. Preeti (Mindshare . Insights Mumbai )  |  October 24, 2007 at 7:33 am

    MTV‘s Vote for ORKUT campaign reinforced the importance and popularity of the network among youth.
    Multiple identity sites like the second life which allows the users to be in their own virtual world entirely created by imagination .Hence this enhances the scope of networking & makes it more surreal.
    Like these there are many more reasons and faces of networking which generates the urge.
    As a part of Social Networking Canvas it becomes easier for people to exchange group news, stay connected without any time commitments. Since the scope of social life is narrowed yet broadened in that sense. Today due to the work patterns and metro lifestyles, people prefer these means of communication.
    The best metric to define and identify the right network is its user base.

  • 8. Molly  |  November 6, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Hi boss, I accidentally found this website. It’s very good reading. We miss you (molly & LK). Pls write to us if you are free. LK want to sell some pix to you. Take care.

  • 9. Michael from Facebook  |  November 17, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to list, we would like to inform you on our new College Network Place…

    The College Networking Cafe is designed to give a social networking utility that connects college students with other college students from around the world!

    Students can use the college networking cafe to keep up with college friends, news, upload photos, share links and videos, you can also become affilates to help build your own community and just learn more about their fellow classmates.

  • 10. Social marketer  |  December 13, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Hi ,

    i think you need to make a call depending on your brand the market you operate and the objective. being worked in mindshare i am sure you guys tend to make a call based on cost and reach and whats wrong in being there at both the places

  • 11. Srinivasarao Nangunuri  |  December 16, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Building an application based tool in face book using the brand can be innovative i guess! Face book is trendy and happening now.. Myspace popularity is bad in india i guess. why not both well yea… But ultimately doing some application based innovation will be kick ass i guess….. which you will find loads in facebook:)

  • 12. NearlyNormal  |  January 9, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    With the interoperability of data across social networks coming soon to your own SNS, this discussion will become moot. Don’t like your network? Up and leave with your data easily imported into the new one. This won’t be a nifty feature, it’ll be a requirement. The buzz on Dataportability.org is delightful reading.

  • 13. Charlene Murray  |  March 24, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    craniometry anacard terrible battel beaujolais yapp semideponent kylix
    Bureau of Meteorology

  • 14. hiroshita vataru coming from myspace the good site  |  July 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I like myspace


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