Who is Tom and how did he get so many MySpace friends?

Tom at MySpaceWhen I told someone that I wrote for a blog that covers social media, social networks, and social bookmarking, their first question was “What’s all that?”  When I told them what it was and gave them examples, the next question made me laugh.

“Who is Tom and how did he get so many MySpace friends?”

With over  220 million friends, Tom Anderson is everyone’s first MySpace friend.  You can read his MySpace Profile or even the entry about him on Wikipedia.  This story isn’t about him, though.

The MySpace vs. Facebook battle has been raging for a while, but the direction that the company is heading is bringing attention from a whole new batch of foes.  Companies like Yahoo! and AOL are taking note as News Corp. pushes the idea of having MySpace act as more than just a social network.  They want it to be everything to their users — a first stop from which to turn on their laptop and launch their daily Internet adventure and whatever it yields.

They want it to be a portal portal page.

This strategy, often discussed on blogs but rarely analyzed, seems to be the best way to take a website with over 1 billion daily page views and get it over the $1 billion yearly revenue mark.  Actually, they’ll probably hit that number this year even if they don’t change ($800 million in 2007) but the goals are probably much higher.

MySpace is positioned properly, but they are going to have to accelerate changes because of the pressure on many fronts.  Facebook is making many strides despite the Beacon debacle and questions about user data tracking.  MySpaceTV has met moderate success, but far below expectations because of YouTube’s momentum.  With the portal sites able to focus on their products more feverishly, it appears that MySpace has one real option.

Advertise Tom.

As the official unofficial face of the company, they need to start marketing online and offline and put him in front of as many people as possible.  Have Tom watching exclusive shows on MySpaceTV.  Have Tom searching for finding products through MySpace advertising.  Let Tom send a message to all of his friends, then pan out to hear the world getting a unified ping.  Make Tom more viral than he already is.

Innovations will happen, but MySpace is having to fight through two bad names in the social media and networking worlds: their own and their parent company’s.  Both get bashed regularly.  It’s time to draw focus away from the bad offer a friendly face that millions already recognize for the rest of the world to see.

Recent changes to the way that MySpace protects teens has been met with some positive buzz, but they have to continue.  They need an image revamp in the same vein as the old “Softer Side of Sears” campaign.  “MySpace is better, safer, and has more. Come see!”.  That should be the message.

Otherwise, the “MySpace Refugee” camps will grow and the flow of new users will eventually slow.  Are there other ways?  Of course!  This is just one thought.

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For more articles about social networking, click the link that you just passed.



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