Yesterday, I joined UniWorld Group to conduct an all-day urban culture workshop with about 100 marketing executives from a major Fortune 500 CPG company. What was I doing at an urban culture workshop? You noticed that I’m no urban expert, and I’m as white as they come? Well, I learned yesterday that word of mouth plays a very powerful and unique role in the urban mindset – hence my invitation. And anyone who knows me even a little knows well that I have a lot to say about word-of-mouth research and word-of-mouth marketing.
One of the most interesting presentations was from Dakota Pippins and Jesus Ramirez of Urban Lab. They gave a comprehensive overview of urban culture and what makes this psychographic group tick. I was especially interested in the key values they attributed to the urban mindset:
- Street smarts
- Social responsibility
Which brings me to MySpace, an major online community which epitomizes word of mouth in many ways. In addition to my dog-and-pony on word of mouth, I shared with the group my own ongoing MySpace adventures, which I began chronicling here and here. I also talked about the massive traffic growth, and expanded on my original analysis of what makes MySpace so popular and much more than a passing fad. My evolving description of MySpace culture was eerily similar to Urban Lab’s urban mindset values. I said:
- Youth, urban culture and music define the MySpace community.
- It is an expression and image megaphone, as it provides numerous ways to fulfill these fundamental values.
- It is concurrently exclusive and open. Caters to insiders, but discoverable and inviting to outsiders.
- It fosters numerous self-selecting affinity cultures within.
- It is largely authentic and raw – not pre-packaged and glossy.
- It is adventurous and sometimes promiscuous – the thrill of actively and passively meeting new people and sharing your created identity.
Conclusion? MySpace is the epitome of urban culture spreading into mainstream social media (or online media, period).
Among this group of 100 brand marketers, I asked how many knew about MySpace; all raised their hands. I then asked how many were intrigued by MySpace; again, all hands went up. I then asked how many have visited MySpace; about half the hands went up. Finally, I asked how many were members of MySpace; about two hands went up. If you’re interested in understanding the mindset and experience of the MySpace community, including the critical rules and nuances of the venue, then you really need to enter the community, even at a trivial level, like me.