This is the second weekly installment of the Social Survey that I’m conducting on Social Networking and Bookmarking sites on the internet. This week I’ve researched MySpace. Here are the findings.
Without a doubt MySpace is the largest social networking site in the world. Most recent numbers I could find lists MySpace as having over 300 million accounts. According to Alexa, Myspace has the sixth most traffic on the internet It also attracts 76% of all social networking site traffic.
The History Lowdown
I’ve always heard that MySpace was started by spammers and Facebook by a Harvard alum. Although this isn’t completely inaccurate there is a little more to the story. As we learned last week Facebook was indeed founded by a Harvard alum, but it should still be noted that Mark Zuckerberg never graduated.
Myspace was created by company called eUniverse (which later changed their name to Intermix Media in 2004) way back in 1998. In July 2005 MySpace was purchased by News Corp for $580 million! Just for the record News Corp is the world’s largest media conglomerate company by market capitalization.
As for the aligations that MySpace was created by spammers… well a lawsuit was filed by New York State in April 2005 against Intermix Media alleging that the company secretly installed spyware and pop-up advertisements and other intrusions to millions of computer users.
I first setup a personal MySpace page during the summer of 2006 and have to admit for the first few weeks it was quite addictive. MySpace’s greatest power, similar to Facebook, is it’s ability to reconnect and stay connected with people that you normally wouldn’t be able. This includes previous classmates, former neighbors, buisness friends that you meet at conferences, and the list goes on. This might not be the case for everyone, but I noticed that more of my high school friends were on MySpace where I find more college friends on Facebook, although there are a lot who are on both.
Finally MySpace has recently been doing a lot to establishing Social Networking guidelines and remove the idea that they are a network that is open to sexual predators. With this new guidelines and security MySpace has implemented some spam protection and increased functionality for their site.
Wofford College has a MySpace page. We do not however actively promote or link to it like the Facebook page. I monitor the page and have comments setup for approval to prevent spam. The main purpose of this presence is to direct people to our other services (the videos, RSS, email sign-up, blogs, and calendar). This page also doesn’t have the number of friends that the Facebook page does, maybe this has to do with the promotion we have done on Facebook. I’m guessing promotion is only a minor part of this. MySpace is more challenging to do right, because of the large freedom that it provides for designing a page. Meaning that looks of your MySpace presence matter much more than on Facebook.
Just like with Facebook eduStyles also has a list of a few higher education’s MySpace presences. I think most impressive off this list is Auburn’s page. Auburn is a large school and with a popular football program in the super competitive SEC conference, but having over 10,000 friends is still very impressive! However, I honestly I don’t like this page very much, it’s just way to busy for me, but you definitely can’t deny the effectiveness! Another example from this list that I do think is well managed is the USC Aiken profiles. I say profiles because they have two presences, one for general students and prospective students and the other is geared specifically towards alumni. These pages are much cleaner and less busy. They offer some the basic information with the most important flair. The pages also provide links to the universities presence on other locations.
Probably even more importantly than the eduStyles list is the Colleges & Universities page on MySpace. This page is run by Heather Mansfield, you can find more about her and this page on this post over at collegewebeditor. The advise that she gives is excellent and I second a lot of it. The Colleges & Universities page has over 1,100 friends and a good many are college and unversity presences on MySpace. This site also has links to a wealth of articles about marketing on MySpace. If you have the time I highly recommend visiting the site and learning more.
Similar to my approach with Facebook I started a thread on University Web Developers asking about what other Higher Education institutions do as far as marketing with MySpace. The response was minimal.
I think most valuable from the thread was a comment by Matt Herzberger’s. Matt said, ”MySpace is like the wild wild west or Las Vegas of social media, dirty and ghetto”. I have to admit that I completely agree. Despite this, MySpace is extremely popular among young kids. I coach a 13-U USSSA baseball team and almost all the boys have MySpace pages and not a single one had a Facebook account. Pulling some data from Quantcast it looks like MySpace demographic is less educated and with lower income than Facebook. This data might not be 100% accurate, but it does agree with my personal experiences. From this data, I think you might reason that educated people would appear to like order and cleanness (Facebook), where less educated tend to like flashy and much as they can fit on a page (MySpace). Also important from this data is that it looks like BOTH networks seem to have more female traffic than male. This data shows that MySpace has a large percent of people 35+ on the network.
MySpace does have the potential to expose and connect with both prospective students and alumni. It is by far the largest social network in the world and has the widest audience range. Marketing properly on MySpace will definitely benefit from spending a little extra time and money in the design of the page. So much of what you see on MySpace is quite amateurish and any professionally designed page will definitely stand out above the pack. Even if you don’t plan on marketing on MySpace you still need to have an official institution profile. With MySpace if you don’t do it someone else will, and having one is a form of institutional protection.
Once again I highly recommend reading collegewebeditor’s interview with Heather Mansfield and checking out the Colleges & Universities page on MySpace.
Next week I plan to take a look at Digg. To do research it would really help to gather more friends on the network. If you have a digg account please friend me! I’ve already got some pretty interesting findings, but plan to really immerse into Digg in the coming week.