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Your Space or Mine?

Text by John Lampard

Central to the 80’s television show, Cheers, was a Boston bar named, wait for it, Cheers. It was the place “where everybody knows your name”, and is probably still the most welcoming bar on sitcom TV. Despite the fact “everybody” may have known your name though, just how many of them really knew you, or, come to that, were actual friends?

Twenty years later, it could be argued that social networking websites such as MySpace, are the latter day, on-line versions, of the old Boston bar. True enough, hundreds, possibly even thousands, know your name, but otherwise do they know you from a bar of soap?

Yet in the Web 2.0 world of super fast instant gratification, does it really matter? And for a lot of users, MySpace is just that. A way for members to let one and all know their name, but in doing so, also promote themselves, and their talents.

Logging in - PC close up

But for the many bands, designers, photographers, and other creatives trying to boost their profile using MySpace, the real question is “what can I do to stand out from the other 100 million or so, other members?”

Enter Sydney business and communications consultant, John Pospisil, whose interest, and knowledge of all things MySpace is above average to say the least.

John has recently written a book, Hacking MySpace, which offers readers an in depth guide to customising their MySpace profile, and has plenty to say about self-promotion, both in his book and the aptly named companion blog, Hacking MySpace.

MySpace presents a great opportunity to showcase visual media, so make sure your profile has plenty of examples of your work, as well as links to your portfolio or website. It’s also great to be able to give something away, like a background for example. If you’re clever, this background can also double as a promotion - I hate to say advertising - for your services,” he says.

Hacking MySpace by John Pospisil - book cover
Hacking MySpace by John Pospisil

While one of the biggest gripes with MySpace, particularly among designers, who are often less than enthused with the look of the standard profile page, which some say compares poorly with sites such as Friendster, making significant modifications to the default layout is not for the faint hearted.

“You really do need to be able to code to adjust the profile. Having said that, there are plenty of websites out there that allow you to modify the appearance of your profile, though you’ll usually have to live with some form of advertising. Googling ‘myspace layouts’ will produce lots of options,” says John.

There’s no doubt that MySpace is the flavour of the month at the moment, and while some feel it is just another fad, John disagrees.

PC Keyboard - close up

“Social networking is here to stay, but it would be naive to think that nothing could displace MySpace. Its great advantage at the moment is that it just has so much momentum, and a very big parent company, that can make things happen. It would be hard to imagine a competitor being able to become a serious challenger.”

Presently there are plenty of social networking options for the uber-connected to choose from, but in a saturated market, John feels only the big players and those with a specialist focus will stand the test of time.

“My gut feeling is that MySpace will continue to be a market leader for some time yet, and there will probably be a number of smaller social networking sites that manage to survive by targeting particular niches. So it may be more like a Google rather than a Geocities, in terms of its staying power.”