MySpace vs. Facebook – Who Won the WOMMA Smackdown?

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Images courtesy of WOMMA

This post also appears on 360i’s blog.

At WOMMA’s Word of Mouth Marketing University (WOMM-U), I moderated the ultimate face-off, smackdown, no holds barred slugfest: FACEBOOK vs. MYSPACE. It’s the top billing matchup for the ages.

And it ended in a hug.

I must have done something horribly wrong.

Before the session, 360i CEO Bryan Wiener tweeted, “@dberkowitz moderating panel at WOMMA btwn Facebook and Myspace. Riot may ensue. Tweet him questions #womma”. When it was over, 360i tweeted, “@dberkowitz The MySpace-Facebook panel ended in a hug? You channeling your inner Gandhi today or what? #WOMMA

Just last week, MediaPost reported on my Frost/Nixon-style moderating where I tried making panelists cry and demanded answers from the search engines on how much they were bidding to buy Twitter. How did plans go awry?

Part of my problem was who was on the panel: Heidi Browning, SVP Insight & Planning at MySpace and Chris Pan, Head of Brand Solutions at Facebook. The two were just too engaging, and I was too busy learning from each of them to try to get them to claw each other’s eyes out.

There were some turf wars behind the scenes, requiring extensive negotiating on which marketers would be the focus, how much PowerPoint would be used, and a few other ground rules. But some haggling aside, both sides brought a lot to the table, from Heidi’s great idea to share live campaigns on both sites to Chris’s determination to make it a bull-free session even if it meant telling marketers some things they didn’t want to hear.

Heidi kicked things off, showing Bruno’s over the top multimedia blitz on “Meinspace” as a foil to the more conversational and much-liked Page on “Facebuch.” (He’s also on “Tvitter.”) That led to my heavy hitting first question for the panelists: “Vassup?” Maybe they couldn’t understand my Austrian accent, but they weren’t up for fielding that one.

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Heidi and Chris took a deeper look at Vitamin Water. On MySpace, the brand promotes free MP3 downloads in partnership with Amazon. On Facebook, the focus is the Great Debate on the better player: Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. Chris focused on the Facebook ads driving visits and interactions with the Page, while Heidi said Vitamin Water promoted its MySpace heavily offline, noting that such integration was a big selling point for them.

The first real question I brought up involved the audience. Heidi said while it’s largely 18-34 year olds, they have huge numbers running the gamut and it wasn’t just teens. Hopefully she doesn’t take too much umbrage with my recent quote in The New York Times that MySpace would do well doubling down on the under 34 set. As for Chris, he said he expects EVERYONE to be on Facebook. Each day, he’s getting closer.

A bit of discussion followed on when to use self-service ads (I’ve run campaigns on both, and they are really easy to use), but more options come with spending the big bucks through an account representative. Both Heidi and Chris stressed the deep targeting options, with Heidi adding a bit more on MySpace’s psychographics and behavioral targeting.

The big word both Facebook and MySpace wanted to avoid was the c-word: “campaign.” They wanted to stress longer engagements. Chris said Facebook doesn’t want brands having separate Pages for campaigns; they should be about the brands. Separate Pages for spokesmen, mascots, or other brand components are okay though, like a Page for Frank Perdue and another for Perdue Chicken. MySpace is more accommodating for campaign-based Pages.

The audience Q&A offered a few dramatic moments. One attendee said MySpace charging six figures just to launch a branded page made it prohibitive for a lot of marketers to get started. Heidi took a straw poll and asked if that was the case for the others, and a good percentage of hands went up.

Of course, you can’t get more dramatic than that historic hug.

Read more about the session on WOMMA’s live blog from the show, which also helped refresh my memory.