Facebook vs. MySpace: A Comparison

Posted by Brad, Chief Explosion Officer

NACAC recently released a Social Media Discussion paper, which has generated some chatter at the MACAC Conference. (I present today with Andrew Meyers from Hope College!) While I have not had a chance to dive in to the full 41 page document yet, one portion of the paper troubled me.

Addendum B. 6 pages (15% of the paper) is devoted to screenshots of MySpace pages for ‘best practices’.  So I decided to do a quick comparision of these 10 insitutions and see what type of conversation is occuring on these pages (assuming that engagement and interaction is the goal of having a page on MySpace and Facebook).

Here is the spreadsheet that compares the MySpace and Facebook pages of the best practice schools listed.  9 out of 10 schools have a much larger fanbase on Facebook, with the exception being NMSU. (This also notes the importance of knowing your fanbase and interacting with them where they are.) 70% of schools have at least twice as many fans on Facebook vs. MySpace.

And more importantly, look at the ‘recent comments’ data. The number of comments that most schools get in 6 months on MySpace is usually matched within the month on Facebook.

I am not anti-MySpace, I just don’t see many universities and colleges who should be devoting limited time and resources to it.  We have suggested MySpace as the main platform for a client because their community is already there.  In most other situations, we suggest that the MySpace page is merely a portal to direct traffic to other efforts (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.).

Take a look at the data and let me know your thoughts in the comment below.  It seems to me that Facebook would have been a much better example to share with the NACAC community, many of whom will likely take this paper as the ‘standard’.


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  1. Nothing really surprising in the spreadsheet data–facebook is where the action is for college students (and prospective students as well as alumni) now.

  2. I’m not surprised at all – the audiences of MySpace and Facebook were designed to two different demographics. Back in 2007 the BBC ran a story about the difference between the sites:

    BBC study on MySpace vs. Facebook, June 26, 2007.
    Highlights from 6-month study of the networking sites:
    1. More users from background of college-tradition, wealthier, non-immigrant & non-minority kids on Facebook
    2. MySpace is more working class family, high-school completed, immigrant, Latino & Hispanic


  3. Never mind Facebook vs. MySpace … what I didn’t get is how a 41-page report on “Reaching the Wired Generation: How Social Media is Changing College Admission” could overlook College Confidential. Granted, CC doesn’t get the traffic that Facebook and My Space receive … not even close … but CC’s 1.3 million visitors and 36 million page views last month alone is nothing to sneeze at. And the BIG difference is that virtually everyone who goes to CC is looking for college information. Many teens tell me that they hit Facebook, MySpace, et al to get *away* from it … well, at least to take a break from the demands of their academic lives.

    So, if college admission officials and marketing mavens want to reach their target audiences (prospective students and parents) at not only a place that they’re sure to be but also at a *time* that they’re eager to “listen,” then College Confidential is a far wiser choice.

    Yes, I do work for College Confidential, but this rant is more than just a shameless plug. I am proud that the information on the College Confidential discussion forum is often surprisingly accurate, especially for reader-generated content. But certainly the CC community could benefit from more participation by NACAC members, just as NACAC-affiliated colleges could benefit from the recruitment possibilities that CC provides. We at CC would like to see far more college officials actively participating in our discussions, helping us to offer the best information possible, and acknowledging the role that CC plays in helping many families shape their college plans.

    This study that you cite spotlights other commercial ventures but not CC. Thus, NACAC members are missing out on an important opportunity to learn about an exceptional resource and perhaps the most effective way to reach the “Wired Generation”–better than MySpace and Facebook when it comes to connecting with the college bound.

  4. I completely agree with you, Brad. From my conversations with college admission offices, Facebook is the social network they are thinking about the most. One school even said its only concern with MySpace is having pages taken down that claim to represent the school yet are not affiliated with the school in any way.

    Additionally, the data about traffic in the NACAC report is a bit out of date. Facebook recently eclipsed 200 million users worldwide. All the indicators seem to be pointing toward Facebook as the dominant social network. I think it’s somewhat akin to Google in the search engine market. Facebook wasn’t the first social network, but it seems to have become the standard. MySpace could be considered the Yahoo (and Friendster, the first social network, might be something like Lycos, if you remember them).

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