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.

Image: Zazzle

Meghan Keane

Published 15 September, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Interesting article, Meghan. One of the interesting questions this raises is: how many brands really need to reach more affluent consumers?

If brands make the high-level assumption that Facebook generally has a more affluent, urban-dwelling audience, that still doesn't necessarily mean that Facebook's audience is more desirable or that MySpace's audience excludes their customers and potential customers.

From consumer goods brands to fast food chains and a lot of things in between, I think the number of brands that truly have reason to court affluent and/or urban-dwelling consumers exclusively is relatively small.

almost 9 years ago

Meghan Keane

Meghan Keane, US Editor at Econsultancy

Heya. Yes. It would take a lot to convince me that marketers are avoiding MySpace because its userbase has a low income base. Especially since so many social media users are teenagers and others who make little to no money. But interesting food for thought.

almost 9 years ago

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Misiek Piskorski

Meghan,

Thanks for picking up on my study. I think the article makes the point that media tend to ignore MySpace, but this does not imply that *marketers* ignore MySpace. In fact, probably the opposite is true. Some marketers report that they get 2x click-through rates on self-service advertising on MySpace than FB. Others really appreciate the opportunity to do integrated marketing on MySpace (e.g. Married on MySpace, or McCafe campain), or ability to do full page takeovers for movies (see log-in page on MySpace). Last but not least - games on MySpace is booming...

Thanks again,

Misiek

almost 9 years ago

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21Happ

Interesting article. However I do wish that myspace linked to facebook so that you could add friends back & fourth between the two of them. I am not sure that you can do this or not because I use myspace and not really familiar with Facebook.

almost 9 years ago

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jenn

Don't get it... what is wrong with POOR PPL?

almost 9 years ago

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Patrick

What they don't realize is, while there are more teenagers on myspace, how does that lose the chance for profit? Last I checked, teenagers and younger adults who mostly use myspace are more likely to buy things from advertising anyway. Not to mention a lot of the teenagers may not have money, but their parents do.

almost 9 years ago

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