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The REAL MySpace debacle

Myspace.com has gotton a bit of bad press recently because some parents finally decided to wake up and figure out what their kids were doing online. Lo and behold, some kids are stupid and will post every single piece of personal identifying information they have online without thinking twice about it. But that’s a parenting issue, not an epidemic. The real problem with MySpace is a growing trend of businesses trying to use it as their website for their business.

I picked up a business card while at the McKinley Mall a couple days ago for Chayban’s, a business that sells dressess and provides tailoring and dry cleaning. The store is simple, yet professionally laid out. They’re not trying to come across like they’re Hot Topic or Hollister. Their business card is full color, glossy, classy looking. But then on the back, they list their website address – a link to their page on MySpace. Holy crap. Welcome to the seedy underbelly of business websites. Apparently, Chayban’s is a 23 year old single female. The store is a Capricorn and doesn’t smoke or drink (probably mall rules). I couldn’t find if they preferred long moonlit strolls on the beach or something more energetic like white water rafting, but I have a feeling if I look long enough I’ll find out.

Nothing says unprofessional, mid-90s web design like a twinkling starscape background and scrolling photos of your product line. However, you need to bring that into 2006 by sprinkling a little Web 2.0 social networking on top. How better to promote your business than by proudly declaring customer feedback such as “hahaha it just might be funnier than your lasagna!! but ill defianatly send it to ya tonight” and “hahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahaaaaaaa why did u take it OFFF…I know u liked it lol“.

While Chayban’s page may be the lowest of the low, that doesn’t mean that if a MySpace page is less offensive it gets a free pass. BuffaloPundit linked to a MySpace page for none other than… the Transit Drive-In. There’s nothing on this page that’s going to send you into an epileptic seizure, although you will have a bit of a surprise if your speakers are on and turned up. It’s much simpler and easy to read. But that doesn’t change the fact that MySpace is not the medium for representing your business! All those “friends” and comments are going to reflect on your company, whether you want them to or not.

The early days of the internet where it would cost your business $2000 to get a basic website set up are long gone. Web hosting is cheap these days. It costs me less than $120/year to maintain Punaro.com, including the domain name registration. Most hosting providers will provide access to design tools for the uninitiated, and they usually offer a reasonably priced service that will design your site for you if you don’t have the time, desire, or can’t find a reasonably skilled relative or neighbor’s kid looking to make an extra couple hundred bucks. For those not comfortable in the arena at all, contact a local business like OnLine Media who can sit down with you in person and discuss all your questions and options. If you can’t afford to invest this minimal amount of money into your business, you shouldn’t have a website. Throwing something up on MySpace is going to detract from your business more than help it. A better alternative would be to set up an email account for the business and just put that on your business card, and responding promptly to customer inquiries.

Recently, it really seemed like the plethora of painful websites was behind us. Even the worst of sites showing up on Web Pages That Suck seemed to be improving, mostly. But this new evil trend in internet promotion needs a wooden stake through the heart. Just remember – friends don’t let businesses use MySpace.

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