MySpace, meet Playboy. Playboy, MySpace.
It was only a matter of time before Playboy started looking at the profiles of all the girls who post sexy pictures of themselves and started to wonder... "How do we get a piece of that?"
Now, they're making a "Girls Of MySpace" issue.
It's interesting. As MySpace has spread in the public conciousness, more and more media outlets are creating profiles for themselves, seeking to connect with customers, subscribers, and yes... potential covergirls.
I was discussing with some collegues about how to promote a certain contest and one of them brought up MySpace right away.
A quick look around on the MySpace site revealed a People Magazine street team, Stuff Magazine, and Filter Magazine, among several lesser known publications.
With internet use on the rise, and print circulation falling (visit magazine.org to see a pathetic/hysterical attempt to reassure themselves that magazines will remain relevant), media giants are beginning to exploit free space on the web to reach their target audience. 339 U.S. magazines list themselves on Wikipedia (whether they're put there by a fan or an employee is difficult to tell).
What does all this mean to us? Well, for net users, it could mean the social networking, blogging and wiki sites we love are threatened to be overrun by corporate stooges (Remember, Ruper Murdoch owns MySpace). Of course, on the other hand, it could mean that a magazine or company can provide special content (like a song, exclusive interview, or photos) to fans of the mag through its MySpace site. The advantage of having a MySpace profile, from a company's standpoint, is gaining access to the profiles of its customers, which can reveal interests or trends that they can then cover in a magazine or a new product. Of course, the flip side is that the company can read whatever personal info you put on your profile. Do you really want Filter Magazine to know you puked at that kegger last Saturday?
Everyone should know by now that sites like Wikipedia are at risk of being compromised by writers employed to promote a pro-company agenda (already, House staffers have been caught sanitizing the Wikipedia bios of congressmen). But for a company that wants to give basic information about themselves, Wikipedia, the 19th most viewed site on the internet, provides a free and high-profile venue. For the internet user, a Wikipedia entry may not always be reliable, but it can usually direct you towards information that is.
Another free space on the web being utilized by media groups and corporations is the blogosphere. Originally populated by stay-at-home nerds with strong opinions, the blog world is now awash with corporate blogs, many merely spouting off press releases and company slogans. Already, "spam blogs," have become enough of a problem that Blogger.com has had to develop a flagging system so that users can help them identify "robot-written" blogs designed to fool users into clicking spam links. But honest, candid blogs written by corporate CEOs, magazine editors, and others in so-called "ivory tower" positions have the potential to give some transparency to the corporate monolith. Already, several newspaper editors have created blogs to explain the news gathering process on a daily basis to their readers. Brian Williams' Daily Nightly blog, often provides a behind the scenes look at what it took to report on a story. To the reader, viewer, or consumer, these blogs can prove to be valuable sources of entertainment and information. To the company, these blogs are gatekeeper-free press with a personal touch.
The free web offers many opportunities for companies and media outlets to reach new customers and keep old ones, but potential for abuse should make people wary.
I ditched Friendster after receiving spam friend requests and messages from companies that manufactured profiles on the service. No one likes to be bothered. Opt-in mailing lists should be the norm.
And if there's any company ad people reading this... I've had enough of "Splash Ads," (those un-click-away-able animations that "splash" across certain web pages, and the latest trend in web advertising). There are some sites I refuse to go to because I know it'll take too much time to actually read an article there.
Anyways, on a personal note. I may have two articles coming up soon on MSNBC. Stay tuned. And my boy Sickabod Sane performs tonight at the $1000 dollar Open Mike at The Pyramid Club, NYC. Check it out.