A huge part of the success of MySpace is an age and culture thing. Part of being an American teen is figuring out who you are, how you fit into society and culture, how social relations work, etc. Part of this process involves sharing cultural objects, hanging out and trying out different self-performances to find the one that feels “right” (think Goffman “faces”). There are plenty of adults who are doing this as well, but it is central to youth culture. Youth will always do this, using whatever medium is available to them. MySpace is far more deeply situated in the cultural values and practices of its constituents than Friendster ever was. MySpace teens may jump ship, but they are not going to stop doing identity work, at least not for a few years.
The essay above focuses primarily on the demise of Friendster and how MySpace is different, but the quoted paragraph, which appeared towards the end, bears note.
See, this is what most marketers are MISSING! Social networking is about meeting people, socializing, getting a hot date, looking popular, etc., but more then anything, it is about proclaiming of the self. Saying, “This is who I am.”
This is why music, one of the ultimate definers-of-self for youth, is so intristicly tangled into social networks. Music is a part of youth culture, thus it was a part of MySpace.
When marketing or growing a following via a social network like MySpace, Facebook or even Google+, consider what value it brings them. Does it help them solidify their identity (as a cell phone ringtone for a cool new song can…)? Does it help them proclaim their identity? Does it help them figure out their identity (quiz…)? These are all things teens are there for already, and will respond well to.
And adults are looking for similar validation, being able to say, “This is who I am” on social networks. They might not be as overt as teens, they do it too. That’s what the “Interests” section on a Facebook profile is all about.
How does “Liking” you/your brand help your fans proclaim who they are?