Saturday, September 01, 2007

MySpace Fashion: Vogue or Waste of Time?

While other social networking sites, and especially MySpace's biggest competitor, Facebook, are trying to expand into the professional networking space, the social networking leader is moving in a different direction. Do they know something the others don't or are they just sadly misguided? Let's find out.

With the professional networking space heating up as more and more professionals head online to connect with their co-workers and others in their fields, you would expect the leader in social networking to make similar moves (if not be the one to initiate the moves) to capitalize on the expanding market and further secure its lead. But when MySpace decides that instead it will release a revamped version of its fashion community, you can't simply write it off. If MySpace's history is any indication, their move into fashion networking over professional networking makes sense.

When MySpace was launched in 2003, it was popularized as a platform for budding artists to upload, share, and essentially market their music for free. The site's beginnings and their current foray into fashion sheds light on MySpace's strategy, which BusinessWeek points out as one of 'identifying the communities of interest that have grown organically and the building official member communities around them, turning once-grassroots groups into content platforms for old-media companies and consumer brands'.

Opting for niche communities over fast-maturing areas is risky but if successful, will be far more rewarding. By choosing to focus on these under-served communities, MySpace can foster loyalty and become a monopoly player with absolutely no competition, while leaving the competition to fight over areas like business networking. Furthermore, this brings diversity to the MySpace portfolio (for marketers) and allows MySpace to hedge their bets against competition from Facebook and other rivals.

Steve O'Hear explains this phenomenon clearly,
Whilst many of us have applauded Facebook's clean design and focus on communication, it's hard to imagine that the site will eat into MySpace's strong communities around musicians, film makers, and now fashion enthusiasts -- as user profiles and community pages can't be heavily branded or customized...

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