Hang on a second while I install a special flameproof visor over my LCD screen...

Okay I'm ready. Here we go--

With all the hullabaloo about Facebook these days, people are starting to ask me if they should set up a Facebook account to use as a marketing tool and my answer to this is --quite frankly-- NO.

In fact, with regards to using a social networking site to promote yourself, your business, your website, whatever, MySpace kicks Facebook's ass.

Here are three good reasons why:

MySpace has a wider reach

MySpace simply has a much wider reach than Facebook. On MySpace, you are essentially granted access to the entire network the minute you sign up. Nothing beats looking at "Your network: 196,011,942" to set the old glands a-salivating with regards to opportunity.

Facebook, on the other hand, only allows you to browse through profiles which are in networks that you can prove you have an affiliation with such as a regional network, a work network or a school network. Here's the kicker though... You can only be affiliated with one regional network at any one time. And... and you're only allowed to change your regional network once every two months. Hmmmm...

Okay. I'll play along. I'm self-employed (uh oh... that means no work networks), I've been out of school for over 20 years (so much for the school networks) and I live in Montreal, Canada. Okay let's click on 'Networks' in my Facebook account, drill down to the Montreal, Qc and OUCH! My Facebook reach is now limited to 178 thousand individuals. Compare that to the 196 million or so in my 'extended network' on MySpace and well... You do the math.

MySpace allows you to customize your profile

And Facebook does not. Oh sure you can add any of 2700 (and counting) 'applications' to your Facebook profile which will allow you to decorate your page with photos, videos, music and even a 'fortune cookie' but after all is said and done, you are still going to have the same blue and white Facebook template as everyone else.

MySpace, on the other hand, permits you to use HTML and CSS to completely --and I mean totally and completely-- customize your profile anyway you want. I can't even begin to describe the immense advantage this gives you with regards creating a look that compliments whatever it is you're trying to promote.

And if you don't have any web designer skills, you can always do a search for 'free myspace layouts' or 'myspace overlays' in Google and you will come up with a plethora of premade MySpace layout codes that can be used to instantly transform your profile.

Now... (and yes I can already hear the angry mob quickly gathering outside my door)... admittedly, the ability to customize MySpace profiles has led to a situation where tens of millions of would-be web designers have attempted to gussy up their MySpace pages and have instead produced the most shameless collection of hideous monstrosities known to mankind. But there is nothing to say that it has to be like that. In fact, a classy MySpace page is very doable (covered in great detail in this tutorial).

MySpace is easier to use

As a new user, you are going to be able to climb into a MySpace profile a lot easier than you will into a Facebook counterpart. The MySpace user interface is simply much more intuitive and isn't littered with a bunch of proprietary jargon that requires you to plow through the help files in order to understand it.

For example, on MySpace, your blog is called... (drumroll please)... a 'blog'? Sheesh! Who'da thunk that referring to something by its actual name would contribute to user friendliness? On Facebook, your blog is called.... uhhh... 'The Wall'? No wait... 'Notes'? Dang it. ...(*laboriously searching through help file*)...

And what exactly does it mean on Facebook when I 'poke' someone? Hmmm... According to the help file, it looks like Facebook isn't exactly clear on what it means either. I'm supposed to make up my own meaning, they say? Well gee, as a matter of fact I already have a definition for 'poke' but I'm not sure many womenfolk would appreciate my virtually 'poking' them whenever I please... :o)

Another example. Okay let's say I've been on Facebook a week or so. Now I want to perform the simple task of finding four photos I've already added to my Facebook page. I've done this before. I know I can do it again.

Let's see uhhh... Hmmm..

Why don't I click on the Photos link on my profile? That makes sense. Whoa! Wait a minute. Now I'm looking at a page full of my friends photos instead of my own? Huh?!? WHY?

Okay, okay... Don't panic. Let's click on the 'My Photos' link. That oughta do it. Woops...

Now I'm seeing a page telling me 'You haven't created any albums yet.' Yes I know I haven't created any albums but I do know I've got four photos of myself up there somewhere. Where are they?

Okay. Don't panic. Back one page. How about 'Photos of you'? Click there. Uh oh. Now I'm seeing a page telling me 'You have not been tagged in any photos yet.' Tagged? What's a 'tag'? WHERE ARE MY PHOTOS??!? What the...? Dang it!... AAAARRGGGHHH!!! ...(*laboriously searching through help file again*)...

My humble opinion

(*chuckle*)... Yes I finally found my photos. Don't worry.

But in my humble opinion --(*doublechecking the flameproof visor over my LCD screen*)-- this is how Facebook measures up to MySpace:

If you want to spend a lot of time pimping and preening over a personal page that will ultimately serve the purpose of keeping you in the loop on who did what at last night's frat party or where the gang is going after work on Friday, join Facebook.

On the other hand, if you want to take advantage of the whole social networking craze and quickly and easily get a page up and running that helps to promote your business, your website, your band, your self, whatever, then join MySpace. Despite MySpace's reputation, you're going to make it happen a lot easier and a lot more effectively on MySpace than you will on Facebook.

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