Should Your Firm Make MySpace Its Space?
By Ethan Watts
You may have heard some of the publicity surrounding the website MySpace.com, and you might even be a registered user of MySpace. MySpace is a social networking website that allows its users to create their own personal webpages, share photos, videos and journals and locate other individuals with common interests.1 All of this is offered for free after registering with the site and creating a user profile.2 As stated on MySpace’s “About Us” web page, MySpace is an “online community that lets you meet your friends' friends.”3
MySpace has become one of the great success stories of the internet. According to the internet information site, Alexa.com, MySpace is currently the world's sixth most popular website, and the third most popular website in the United States.4 (Hitwise.com lists MySpace as the most popular website on the internet).5 Headquartered in Beverly Hills, California, MySpace is owned by Fox Interactive Media, which, in turn, is owned by News Corporation.6 MySpace was founded in July 2003 by Thomas Anderson, the current president, Christopher DeWolfe and a small team of programmers.7 After its founding, MySpace quickly became the web’s most popular networking site. MySpace now boasts tens of millions of registered users, adding approximately 250,000 users per day.8
Given MySpace’s meteoric growth and its extensive reach to millions of users, the question is, should your law firm (or you as a sole practitioner) consider making MySpace its space? Although MySpace was founded as a social networking site, MySpace has increasingly been employed as a marketing tool. Many celebrities have MySpace pages, and use MySpace to promote their movies and shows. Ryan Seacrest, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Simpson, and Oprah are just a few examples among many.9 Politicians have also recognized the value of MySpace. A recent search on MySpace revealed pages set up by Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, and many of the other 2008 presidential candidates and other politicians.10
It is also not surprising that many businesses have taken advantage of the free marketing MySpace provides. Numerous bars, clothing shops, and coffee shops can be found on MySpace pages.11 Large multinational corporations have also entered the MySpace domain. A few examples include Starbucks, Coors, Burger King, Dell, Honda, Walmart, Wendy’s and Volkswagen, all have personal pages or “groups” pages on MySpace.12
However, a recent search for any of the top ten law firms, as ranked by Vault, reveals that the largest and most prestigious law firms are not utilizing MySpace.13 This may not come as a surprise, given the image associated with MySpace and some of MySpace’s drawbacks.
First of all, in order for a law firm to register a MySpace page, it would need to go through the registration process and designate its sex and age.14 This is because MySpace is set up for use by individuals, not business entities. This requirement alone might keep many firms from creating a MySpace page. One could imagine finding a MySpace page depicting Latham & Watkins as a 50 year old single male.
Additionally, although it is free to set up a MySpace page, it does take time and effort to set up the MySpace page, and considerable time and effort to manage it properly. A MySpace page is really only effective if it is updated frequently and if any messages received on the MySpace page are responded to promptly. A law firm MySpace page might also attract a fair number of junk messages and requests for free legal advice.
Finally, although MySpace is becoming more mainstream, it is still dominated by teenagers, twenty-something year olds and thirty-something year olds who are trying to make personal social connections, but who are not necessarily looking for legal services.15
So with the pros and cons of MySpace in mind, the question is what kind of a firm or solo practitioner should consider marketing on MySpace? Not many. Only those firms or solo practitioners targeting the specific demographic that frequents MySpace pages should consider taking the time to establish a MySpace presence (the sort of firm that would advertise in a teen print magazine). The vast majority of law firms and solo practitioners will likely be better off spending their time and resources on other marketing efforts. While celebrities and rock stars may find fans, politicians may find voters and businesses may find consumers on MySpace, it is doubtful firms will find many clients on MySpace.
The above discussion is intended to be a general commentary on legal issues. Each situation is different and this article is not intended as legal advice. Further, nothing in this article is intended to create an attorney-client relationship.