Cup of Joe: Exclusive Interview With MySpace’s Mona Nomura
A few months ago I started following Mona on Twitter. The best way to describe Mona is quite simply, fun. She has a ton of fun with social media and always seems to be “on”. Because of which, it wasn’t a huge surprise that MySpace signed her this week as their newest full time social media marketer. Prior to her work at MySpace, Mona, was a project manger at Oracle, then went on to freelance consulting up until MySpace snagged her up! I asked Mona if she wouldn’t mind answering a few questions about her new job at MySpace. For our benefit she graciously agreed!
Joe: So you are working at MySpace that’s awesome! What exactly do you do there?
Mona: Supplementing existing marketing initiatives with social media magic!
Joe: You mentioned in your recent blog post that you are in charge of MySpace’s Facebook fan page. Are you crazy? Do people at Facebook hate you? Have you been FacePunched? But seriously, how are you using Facebook to promote MySpace and do you see any conflicts with this strategy?
Mona: Since I am a nutjob, I more than welcome crazy! But on a serious note, teenagers — the MySpace demo even on our Facebook fan page — are people too. Even if I am insulted by the community (unprovoked) on a daily basis, there has been more positive than negative reactions. I am pleasantly surprised — or more caught off guard.
My goal with the Facebook fan page is to reinvigorate our brand and turn the fan page into a community. As much as I would like to achieve that with only MySpace content, I did not think it was a good idea. When Sean and I took over, the fan page was not curated and the tone not set. My gut told me the the community would not react well to MySpace (a brand) suddenly coming in and treating the page like a billboard. The Internet has always been a medium where interaction and engagement is necessary. By increasing our presence with sharing meme items while subtly mixing our native content, the reactions have been excellent, enthusiastic even. The community members are not as vile as outsiders (adults?) assume. This is still the beginning so I am looking forward to how this page will evolve.
As for conflicts, I say there are none. Social media is the best thing to happen to brands. I think general consensus of the public is that they are tired of companies megaphoning one-way content. We are in an age where the Internet is a part of the mass’ daily routines. Simply: brand presence across all platforms is pertinent, and Facebook is only one outlet we are utilizing to tap into the conversation. With the backing of extremely progressive marketing leadership, we are taking full advantage of this opportunity –even if we are a social company.
I think the folks over at Facebook are amused. A Facebook engineer friend has even called my efforts… cute. haha
Joe: You are helping to promote one of the most well-known brands on the Internet. How are you and your colleagues engaging users in an authentic way while continuing to maximize ROI?
Mona: Our current focus is on product — we have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline I cannot wait to share. One recent example is the MySpace music blog that recently moved to WordPress — which even surprised me. But I have to constantly remind myself MySpace is a platform built playing catch-up to its growth.
Fortunately we have sharp, tech savvy folks working as fast as they can to rectify rudimentary aspects on up. We still have an enormous amount of traffic that is begging to be leveraged differently, and better than before. ROI maximization is in alignment with the product timeline. That said, we are currently doing what we can with the available resources to market our brand.
Joe: Here at Marketing Pilgrim we talk a lot about promoting products and services. While some may argue that social networking is a service, it seems that you are promoting more of an “experience” than a product or service. Does this require a different type of strategy? Or can we apply the same marketing methods that we use for products?
Mona: Our message is an experience with the product: “Discover and be discovered.” Emphasis on product will be made as features and functions are ready for use. But do not hold me to that — we are a technology company and things change on a daily basis!
As for strategy, my colleagues who most (if not all) have strong entertainment backgrounds. I am fortunate to work with them as a team to learn together and find ways to best collaborate old and new media. So essentially, we are paving the path for a new model which combines product and a service. As I write that out, I think to myself: Wow, I am so lucky.
Joe: I think many folks have mentioned that MySpace’s central demographic is younger than most of the other social media sites. Are young adults using social media differently? And if so are you and your colleagues putting more emphasis on any one area of socal media while you promote MySpace? (i.e. real time data, social engagement, location based networks, content distribution)
Mona: This is my personal observation, but I believe so.
Wait. Let me back up.
In general, there are three types of Internet users. Loosely:
1. creators (sharers, broadcasters, content providers) 2. taggers (those who engage with simple actions: like, comment, favorite etc.) and 3. viewers (lurkers — those who are none of the above and simply consume).
The past year or two have been fascinating to watch as someone who has been online since I could speak. The growth and explosion of the Internet and user generated content is astounding. Data and content is democratizing. Twitter and Facebook have made it so easy for people of all ages to do one or all of the above. Facebook, also took social networking to the next level by personalizing content. For example photo tagging, liking and commenting which are genius ways to re-connect and connect people, as well as expanding your social graph. Now that the shininess of personal social networking is dwindling we are seeing social gaming peaking, which enables users to socialize in a different way.
For teenagers, it’s a little different. Think back to when you were in middle, even high school. I don’t know about you, but when I was in my teens I did not want people — especially my friends — to know and see every detail of my life. I was afraid my family would find out my daily activities (not that I was doing anything illegal DISCLAIMER) but I was more self conscious about what my peers thought and my reputation.
MySpace, gives teens — well people of all ages for that matter, an outlet to express themselves differently. Whether it be with pop culture, music, media or by profile customization, they are not required to share their real selves. So to answer your question do youths use social media differently? Definitely yes but the fundamental actions are the same: 1. create and broadcast 2. simple interactions — comment and like or 3. only consume.
It’s no secret MySpace needs a lot of help but that is slowly but surely changing. We are rolling out one and all of the features you mentioned (real time, sharing, liking, etc.) but in a way that best fits our brand. This is a huge step since folks from entertainment backgrounds normally do not advocate content sharing. Needless to say, MySpace is fortunate to have such progressive leadership — Angela Courtin, Jason Kirk and Sean Percival, particularly.
Separately, I am a believer in community. I will do all and everything it takes to turn MySpace into a brand that is known to engage with its users… who are our customers.
Joe: Is there any MySpace koolaid left? And if so where can we get some?
Mona: I guzzled it all and chased it with the iPad KoolAid.