MySpace is now truly a household word. On its face that would seem to be a good thing, but a closer inspection may reveal something different. Theres a tendency among the public, sometimes, to tune out or even become resentful towards highly popular brands, whether those brands be people or products. Maybe this reflects enviousness towards the material success people presume popularity brings, or maybe its just that something people see or hear about often becomes tiresome.
In the case of MySpace, what was once mostly a virtual gathering spot for teens has been covered from every different angle by the mass media. The media came and told MySpace’s story to millions of people throughout the world. This after all is the function of the media. The appearance of the media in MySpace land however may have given core MySpace users the impression that their territory had been intruded upon, and even sold out to mainstream interests.
The feeling of MySpace going corporate may have left a particularly significant impression on MySpace users. Burger King and WalMart, two big companies if there ever were any, once had profiles on MySpace. Both profiles have since been abandoned and at least in WalMarts particular case their MySpace profile seems to have been removed in response to bad publicity. It seems many MySpace users were not happy with WalMarts presence on MySpace, and expressed as much through harsh comments left on WalMarts MySpace profile. So the profile is now gone.
The WalMart scenario may have been a lesson not just that for that company, but for MySpace as well. MySpace has apparently been surpassed in popularity by Facebook, the networking site explicitly for students. Is this due to the general feeling that MySpace had become overrun and corrupted by commercial interests? Its a possibility certainly. Its worth noting that Facebook does display advertising, Facebook does not allow companies to actually create profiles: not yet anyway. Perhaps users of any online site have accepted seeing advertising, but not the notion of embracing advertisers as regular members of the community.
All of this isnt to suggest that MySpace is now somehow irrelevant: there are still hundreds of millions of MySpace profiles, and almost certainly millions and millions of MySpace members. But if there is something to be taken from the response to corporate presences on MySpace it may be that business sites should be presented with a light touch and without an obvious motivation to increase sales or to generate publicity. As with any other community, becoming an accepted part of MySpace takes time and a respectful effort.