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A quick comment on this great exchange. Don asked "how can you tell
that it was the participation in MySpace etc that led to increased

Well, one of the major differences between MySpace (and other online
"social networks"/community sites) and past marketing, promotions,
advertising etc is that in many many cases actions are directly and
explicitedly trackable.

i.e. fans take a specific action to add a band as a "friend" on
MySpace (not dissimilar to past actions of joining a fan club but
significently easier and with more immediate interactions). Fans leave
comments and the band can (and very often does) reply back. Fans can
download music and not infrequently buy albums, tickets, t-shirts etc.

There have been a large number of bands (and venues) who can see a
very direct correlation between their activity on MySpace and "real"
world sales. Bands who as independants made it to #1 on various
charts, whose albums when launched sold hundreds of thousands of
copies in the first week (without a major label promotional campaign,
MTV videos, or major radio airplay).

For smaller venues and businesses onling activity is unique in that if
you want you can (and most successful firms do) track very directly
where clicks come from - and what happens. i.e. what sites just
generate downloads of free content and which generate downloads and

The social interactions, the back and forth through a trusted site
(MySpace for example) also allow an audiance to shape what the
artist/company makes. A non-MySpace example of this is the T-shirt
company from Chicago, Threadless. They ONLY make designs that their
large community has voted for, rewarding directly a community of
designers and customers that they have built up over time. This social
"network" is very directly tied to real business performance and
activities - and through tracking those ties and what works/does not
work the successful businesses can grow and succeed very
significently. (not just through as in Threadless's case their own
hosted "network" but also via watching how their participation
elsewhere on the web helps them - i.e. blog posts about them on
popular community sites such as, Reddit, BoingBoing etc)


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