Corporate MySpace- Befriending by Pretending

Corporate MySpace profiles have become the old guy at a college party: uninvited, kind of creepy, and really only funny if you’re drunk. But this poor response from the social networking community hasn’t stopped a slew of companies from building profiles promoting the BK "King" or Dell’s "DJ Ditty." Embracing this trend, FX networks recently created an "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" corner of MySpace to spread awareness for the comedy about a "gang" of 20-somethings that manage a dive bar in Philly.

Unlike much of corporate MySpace, however, "It’s Always Sunny" and its cast have been accepted by other users.

FX created pages for the show itself, and each of the main characters. While the show’s main profile is obviously built by a professional, the individual character pages actually come off as, well, genuine. Like many MySpace profiles, they have very basic design, quirky user names (The character "Charlie" has a user name of "American Ninja!"), and poorly written blogs.

But "Sunny’s" online campaign is unique in the way it erases the line between TV and the real world. MySpace users suspend reality to interact with characters on a personal level. On "Mac’s" page, for example, people have posted comments about his coolness, questions about things that happened in recent episodes, or even suggestions about how he should handle certain situations. In addition, the show and its main characters have over 70,000 MySpace friends.

How did FX’s promotional tool pay off? Since both sites launched, weekly volume at Sunny’s MySpace was about 5 times that of the FX Networks official domain for the show (25000 vs. 4500 average visitors per week) even though it appears that FX spent considerably more effort developing the network site.

The social networking centric promotion was an apparent success. Compared to its first season running, the show had 16% higher season premier viewers and 81% more people tuned in for the second episode. Individual character pages also allowed FX to see how people liked each character: Even if MySpace users didn’t actively post feedback, friend adds and page visitors also help to indicate a fan favorite. Big shocker: that title goes to the gorgeous blonde girl.

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