29 October 2006

Hopping on the bandwagon

I've been reading a lot of articles online recently about MySpace. Opinions are divided - it's either the best thing to happen to the web, bringing people together in new ways, or it's the worst thing ever, encouraging grooming, phishing, stalking and - probably provoking most horror - bad design.

So I decided to get my own profile. Not just to see what the fuss is about; not even to see if it is possible to make a nice looking page which is actually readable (it is, but they don't exactly make it easy). Oh no; I was looking into the business applications of MySpace.

In short, there are very few. Very, very few. You can have a rant about it as a web designer because that's the "in thing" (and most rants about it are justified, to be honest), but aside from that - and the special case of the music industry - it's very difficult to see a way a business could make much use of it.

I did think that, perhaps, it would be a way of making a small (well, one page) promotional page about a small business - after all, all "the kids" are using MySpace and there's the possibility of getting some credibility with your customer base by using it. However, there are many site-builder options out there with far more flexibility and just as much customisation available to them - setting up a WordPress or Blogger blog would be a far better option. There's the usefulness of comments and friends as product endorsements, but that's about it.

I said the music industry was a special case. Well, it is. It's what MySpace was created for and it works really well - free samples of music, gig diaries, images and of course endorsements... and if they're from other bands, so much the better. There's also a two-way thing going on here - people want to be listed as the "friend" of a famous band. Bands want to look like they've got lots of fans. Everyone wins. But the model is virtually impossible to extend to other businesses. And you'll see that bands have another website anyway - the only real purpose behind a MySpace account is to give away samples of their music to a very specific audience. And once they have a video, YouTube's the better place to do that.

Anyway, that's my opinion on MySpace - and it's not just sour grapes because I find it exceedingly frustrating trying to get it to look right. Oh no.

No comments: