MySpace may have lost the social networking popularity contest to Facebook, but the company is far from finished.

MySpace has about 70 million users, which is nothing to scoff at. But the company has lost its luster in media circles. 

And Harvard Business School professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski says that marketers and the media ignore MySpace because its users are not as urban — or as rich — as those on Facebook. Is that true?

Piskorski has released an exhaustive social networking study and thinks that marketers are flocking to Facebook because of urban bias.

MySpace has 70 million U.S. users a month, which is not far off from Facebook’s 90 million and far surpasses Twitter’s 20
million users in the U.S. per month.

So why isn’t MySpace getting attention? Because they’re not urban enough. From Harvard’s faculty research blog:

“The fascinating answer, acquired by
studying a dataset of 100,000 MySpace users, is that they largely
populate smaller cities and communities in the south and central parts
of the country. Piskorski rattles off some MySpace hotspots : ‘Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Florida.'”

And according to Piskorski:

“MySpace has a PR problem because its users are in places where they
don’t have much contact with people who create news that gets read by
others. Other than that, there is really no difference between users of
Facebook and MySpace, except they are poorer on MySpace.”

But is that really true? From a marketing perspective, who you’re targeting makes all the difference. Reaching out to urban professionals on Facebook could be more lucrative than advertising to dispersed music lovers on MySpace. But the idea that marketers would be turned off from MySpace on account of their users’ income level doesn’t sound right. For starters, the two networks are used for distinctly different purposes and the interests of users on each would seem far more relevant to most brands than their income level.

Sill, there are interesting findings in Piskorski’s study. For brands based in the South, or less populous cities like Texa’s Forth Worth or Tampa, Florida, MySpace might be more beneficial.

And for what it’s worth, Piskorski thinks that marketers can better market their products by making them more social:

“You should come to the table and say, ‘Here is a product that I have
designed for you that is going to make you all better friends.’ To
execute on this, firms will need to start making changes to the
products themselves to make them more social, and leverage group
dynamics, using technologies such as Facebook Connect.

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