In April, I wrote about how social networks will be the 21st-century network model. All the action on MySpace.com these days supports that premise. Since MySpace started to allay advertisers’ concerns about security, more advertisers have jumped in. With its 85 million registrants, it’s easy to see what’s so attractive.
The current model is simple. An advertiser posts a profile with digital swag (video, music, ring tones, wall paper, etc.), then buys advertising to generate interest. The profile collects friends, and the network effect plays out as people visit the profile and, hopefully, respond to the desired call -to -action: visit a microsite to get more product information, view a movie trailer, buy a movie ticket, opt in to an email list, enter a contest, or something similar.
Below, a few recent branded campaigns on MySpace that really stand out. The list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s interesting to see what different brands are doing and how successful they are at establishing their network of friends.
- The “X-Men 3” campaign is a must-see (disclosure: my company worked on the campaign) because of the large number of endorsements it received from the MySpace network. Why was it successful? It’s a fantastic property in a great franchise, so that makes it easier to market. It also was a big-bang campaign online, so it captured share of mind. And the profile offers a lot of great digital swag to visitors, including the ability to expand your MySpace visible friends list from 8 to 16 when you download a MySpace skin.
- Life’s Lessons by The Learning Channel is a great profile. The statuettes are wonderful, and I like the voting aspect a lot. We all like to offer our opinions, and voting opportunities are a great way to do that. Plus, people have posted some great ideas for additional lessons. Finally, the tie with the show is very well done. It feels like a natural extension of the TV programming.
- Cingular’s profile page features ring and answer tones. MySpace is about music, so this is a smart tie-in. The profile is easy to navigate and puts the music front and center. It allows you to sample and buy. Plus, the lip-synch video feature gets the audience involved. I wonder, though, if the profile might have featured more give-backs to the community. It feels very commercial to me.
- Although the Jack in the Box profile has signed up a lot of friends, I don’t get it. There isn’t much value there. No goodies, little humor. The profile doesn’t work very hard. I guess the rest of the campaign was strong, and that’s what made it attractive to the MySpace network.
- Gatorade’s Go Fierce profile works. But the profile name points to a big problem: Gatorade doesn’t “own” www.myspace.com/gatorade. Nor can it buy the name. MySpace doesn’t allow members to sell or transfer their profile names.
Given many campaigns are built on profiles, this area could become the new domain-name land grab for marketers. The top advertisers’ brands are the profile names for individuals. Check out some big brands, such as Ford, Hummer, Toyota, Mazda, Mercedes, Nike, Dell, VW, Disney, IBM, Gap, Clorox, Pepsi, Fox, or ATT on MySpace.com and you’ll see what I mean (just add a brand name after www.myspace.com/).
It’s a fascinating look into people who badge themselves with brands they admire. Are these people squatters on your brand or marketing problems? Or are they real-life personas, rich with insight about someone who really uses your product? In reality, they are your new spokespeople. Each has aggregated an audience. Each features a major brand. Check out their profiles. It could be worse. A couple of them have movie-star looks and feature beauty shots of your product in their profiles.
What do you think of these profiles as marketing tools for brands? Where do they come up short in your mind? What are logical extensions? What’s next? I’d love to hear your opinions.
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