MySpace or Facebook: How well do you know your audience?

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Shannon Paul recently blogged about the difference between Facebook and MySpace users as outlined in NetPop Research’s new report “Connect Social Networkers 2008.” While most of the findings do make sense to me (Shannon mentioned they might seem counterintuitive), putting social media marketing campaigns into practice prove out something different.

Shannon says:

Many still think of MySpace users as younger than those on Facebook. This may have been true before Facebook opened up to users other than those with a .edu email address, but the research indicates students are more likely to be on Facebook and MySpace users are indeed older and more likely to be married.

I’m finding that when I specifically try to reach 30- or 40-somethings for campaigns, they aren’t biting at MySpace even though I know they are there. If I’m trying to reach “moms,” however, those 30-something plus women come out of the woodwork, for example.

While the report says Facebook users skew younger than MySpace (if they are going with .edu addresses, they could be discounting all the graduates who maintain their alma mater email addresses), marketing campaigns I implement using Facebook never fails to reach 30- and 40-plus professionals and rarely reaches a younger set.

Who Reaches Out to Whom

A major factor in how your social media marketing campaign skews – regardless if you are using MySpace and Facebook – is who you have helping seed the friending process. Clearly, if you have your 20-something social media specialist invite some of his or her friends to “friend” a client on MySpace or Facebook, you will affect the demos. Be careful when seeding within social networks. Only send the initial friend invites to the right demo if you want the exponential reach of their networks to hit the mark.

When to Use MySpace vs. Facebook or Both

Shannon also says:

My belief is that MySpace is often overlooked or misunderstood for a variety of outreach programs because from a demographics standpoint, social media marketers and PR pros of all types are much more likely to be Facebook users, but this is just my hunch, I could be wrong.

I couldn’t agree with her more. When I tell certain clients that it is a no-brainer to put them on MySpace, their knee-jerk response is “but our audience is not teenagers.” I find MySpace to be quite effective for authors and other arts and entertainment-related clients and for nonprofit organizations or cause-related initiatives.

I use Facebook first, however, because it is BIG. Also, you can’t beat Facebook’s incredibly affordable and highly targeted ad system. I recently spent under $100 to reach a pretty specific target audience – Alaskans over 35 – for a campaign called Pick. Click. Give. and was pleased with the results. The NetPop report says that Facebookers tend to friend 17 more people than MySpacers on average. Those numbers create the exponential force of Facebook friending that can be valuable to any social media marketing campaign.

For many – but not all – campaigns, it makes sense to use both MySpace and Facebook. You just have to know how to reach out and touch the right users.

Here’s the presentation:

Read Shannon Paul’s entire post.

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