Regardless, given social networking’s skyrocketing popularity, this “new” marketing tactic feels like a pretty brilliant move. And it is—assuming it can somehow remain true to MySpace’s original ethic. In speaking with a handful of people—including branding and marketing experts, MySpace members, and corporations who have actually taken on this marketing method themselves—what became evident was their belief that the success of this concept hinges on exactly one precept. Think of it as the old “When in Rome” adage.
“For most people, it’s probably like, ‘As long as you’re not putting it in my face…that the products and services I think are great have their own profile’, [you’re] sort of operating within the rules of the MySpace universe,” says Brandplay partner and co-founder Aaron Dignan. “[I]t sort of obeys the morays of this little clique, whereas the banner ad at the top doesn’t.” In other words, play by the MySpace rules: Put up a profile, make it great…and leave other users alone.
In Dignan’s view, the advantage to using a member profile as a marketing tool is that it keeps the MySpace member swathed in comfort of community. “[MySpace members] have been looking at profiles for two or three years, so they’re trained to do it. And then you say, ‘Well here’s another profile for you to look at’ and it’s sort of comfortable. It doesn’t feel as intrusive as an ad because [when] you click that T-Mobile ad at the top…you’re out of MySpace and you’re on T-Mobile’s web site—and they’re going to hawk you some kind of crap for $39.99 a month. [But] if you’re in the T-Mobile profile, it’s like ‘Oh, I can find out something cool. I can look at pictures of Catherine Zeta-Jones and then I’m on to another band that I like.’ So it’s probably less intrusive…especially for this super jaded audience that’s already freaked out that Fox/News Corp bought this thing.”
If MySpace was built on this concept of community, it only makes sense that marketers and advertisers should go with the flow to truly reach their target audience—and Nike’s heeded that advice with their new Soccer campaign and profile. When asked for comment on their use of this marketing medium, Media Relations Manager Nate Tobecksen replied by email that though he wasn’t at liberty to talk about the company’s specific marketing tactics, “Nike is always looking for new and interesting ways to interact with our consumers, and the appearance in MySpace.com is another example of that.”
And Nike is not alone in the MySpace medium. Panasonic has produced profiles for their new Oxyride product and Oxymite character, and EA Games has done one to promote their new SSX On Tour game. The Discovery Channel has joined the bunch, collecting some 14,000 friends in the process. And the soon to be released film “Rent” is on the space too: right now it’s registering about 34,793 friends, most of whom have probably toyed with the profile’s interactive contents which include contests, polls, actor info, forums, downloadables and on and on.