About the Author
Sean Percival is a web developer and author with 10 years experience in e-commerce, web development, and Internet marketing.He is considered a social network expert and has been featured in Forbes Magazine, The Orange County Register, and several online publications. Sean lives in Los Angeles, CA, with his wife, Laurie.
Sean Percival’s official website can be found at www.seanpercival.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
We recognized from the beginning that we could create profiles for the bands and allow people to use the site any way they wanted to. We didn’t stop people from promoting whatever they wanted to promote on MySpace. Some people have fun with it, and others try to get more business and sell stuff, like a makeup artist or a band, and we encourage them to do that.”
Tom Anderson MySpace cofounder
Traditional advertising companies are very worried. Some of their most important demographics are not watching TV or reading magazines like they used to. Instead, you can find them online, spending the majority of their time navigating social networks like MySpace. These websites allow members to contribute, interact, and connect like never before. They forge new relationships, both personal and business-related. I guess you could say it’s the modern-day equivalent of the diary, the local hangout spot, and the record store all rolled into one. On MySpace you can find a date for the weekend, a job, or even old classmates all in one visit. MySpace has been responsible for everything from marriages to divorces and even reuniting long-lost family members.
I Want MySpace, Not My MTV - Social network users spend, on average, 11 hours online per week, compared to 9.4 hours watching TV. Although heavy social network users still watch TV, 70% say their favorite time to spend online is during prime-time TV viewing hours.
Although the majority of its members use MySpace for communicating or online people-watching, thousands of businesses have also created their own pages for marketing purposes. This can take many forms, but the goal is pretty much the same in all cases: the more “friends” you have, the better. Befriending someone on MySpace can be compared to discovering a new business contact or lead. When you include these friends in your own social network, you are also creating a private advertising network at the same time. However, instead of the typical “shotgun blast” often found with traditional advertising, your social network now works like a net, allowing you to continually market to your ever-growing network.
Chances are you picked up this book because you already have experience with MySpace but you want to know more about its marketing potential. Perhaps you don’t have experience and wonder what you’re missing out on. Either way, this book will teach you some of my best secrets that I’ve used to help companies understand and monetize their promotions on MySpace. In the process, they created brand loyalty, received invaluable feedback, and had a great time doing it.
What Is MySpace Marketing?
MySpace was created primarily as a means for bands to promote their music to fans. It’s no surprise that businesses noticed the potential and starting connecting with their “fans” as well. Today you find businesses of all types, from hairdressers to real estate agents, creating and marketing their own profiles on this massive network. In addition to multinational companies such as Adidas and Burger King, many small businesses have also embraced MySpace marketing to generate website traffic and leads. Converting this tangle of online human relationships into an effective promotional platform is what MySpace marketing is all about.
For the most part, marketing on MySpace can be broken into two types: paid advertisements and the more common method, which resembles guerilla marketing. Most companies take the latter approach, because running ads on MySpace can cost anywhere from $7,500 to $100,000 per month. This cost typically is out of reach for most companies, especially small businesses. Thankfully, MySpace marketing can work with any budget, because the majority of the promotion can be done for free. For companies with medium-sized budgets, you can also benefit from paid placements thanks to Google Adwords. We’ll cover both, but I’m sure you’re most interested in the free stuff, so there is a heavy focus on this.
The most important component of MySpace marketing is community. This is the key to MySpace’s success and yours. Creating a community or social network around your promotion is a marketer’s dream for many reasons. First, you get lasting brand recognition, because members will see your MySpace page several times through their normal usage. Second, you have the opportunity to capture visitors by joining them to your social network. This allows you to market to them repeatedly through various avenues on MySpace. Last, you are adding to the community just by being part of it and contributing. Marketing on MySpace is walking a fine line between advertising and personal relationships. In this book I’ll show you how to take the first steps and continue to gain momentum.
Friending Is the New Advertising
In April 2007 an independent and comprehensive survey was performed to measure the impact that social networks have on marketing. The results were surprising, even to those who had already seen dramatic results firsthand. More than 40% of the 3,000 users questioned said they use social networks to learn more about a product. Additionally, 28% said they were referred to the product from an online friend, which adds great credibility to any promotion.
So what is all this talk about friends, and how do they relate to MySpace marketing? In a business sense, a friend on MySpace can be compared to a potential lead or existing customer. You gain friends by requesting friendship with other members and receiving incoming friend requests as well. It does come down to a popularity contest of sorts, where whoever has the most friends receives the most traffic. However, on MySpace, quality is usually better than quantity. Thanks to MySpace’s rich demographics, it has no shortage of quality friends. It really doesn’t matter what your promotion is for, because chances are your demographic already has members in the thousands, if not millions.
When we say “friending is the new advertising,” we are confirming an emerging trend seen across the Internet. Surely you’ve noticed new features on some of your favorite websites that encourage you to join, contribute, and connect with other members. This is Web 2.0, and it is very social in nature. Millions of people are creating their own networks of both online and real-life friends in a truly engaging experience. Including your promotion in these networks gives you access to untold numbers of new connections.
Secrets of Success
With its army of 150 million users, MySpace currently holds the title of largest social network. In the annals of Internet history, few websites have experienced the sudden and explosive growth that MySpace has. When it comes to total traffic, MySpace is right up there with the big boys like Yahoo! and Google. At the time this book was written, MySpace was the fifth most popular website on the Internet.
MySpace also sees a staggering five million new user registrations each month. That’s roughly equal to the population of Minnesota. This huge force of a website was founded in 2003 by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolf and a very small team of programmers. How did these two unconventional executives create such a huge overnight success without a big marketing budget?
Their success can be attributed to a few things.
Friendster.com was actually the first to bring a social network to the masses in 2002, but it couldn’t keep up with the demand. At the height of its popularity, Friendster.com could barely even serve web pages to visitors. Instead, visitors received lots of error messages as the servers tried to handle the huge surges of traffic. The MySpace founders were active members of Friendster.com, and they jumped at the chance to launch their own version. After just 10 days and probably unimaginable amounts of coffee, the first version of MySpace was launched. Although it had many bugs (and, let’s be honest, it still does), this original framework and design are still used throughout MySpace.
Word of Mouth
To get the word out, MySpace held a company-wide contest to see who could sign up the most friends. Emails started to go out of the eUniverse offices in Los Angeles, and in a hyper-connected world, the invitations snowballed worldwide. Millions of frustrated Friendster.com users quickly jumped ship and in the process formed the largest online social network. The winner of the contest received $1,000. Not a bad investment, considering that MySpace was bought for $580 million two years later.
The first members invited to join MySpace were mostly photographers, artists, and other creative types. The founders knew that this passionate demographic would embrace the technology as a great way to showcase their work. Subsequent visitors found themselves inspired by this unique community and were eager to become part of it.
Leveraging Existing Contacts
At the time of MySpace’s launch, its creator, eUniverse, owned CupidJunction.com, which had three million users. All these members were invited to join MySpace, giving the site a serious shot in the arm. eUniverse also advertised the launch on several other websites owned by the company.
Trust Your Users
Giving users almost complete freedom on MySpace empowered the very vocal an...