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Here’s an interesting piece from CNET about local advertisers marketing themselves on MySpace. In essence a business can set up a profile on MySpace in the same way that a teenager would. We wrote about this concept a few weeks ago here.

From the article:

Hoffman, who works for KEA Advertising in Valley Cottage, N.Y., has built MySpace profiles for several car dealers. He then contacts other members of the network asking them to be a "friend" to the business, using software tools to target those he thinks might be interested.

"There are a lot of people to be reached and a lot of impressionable minds on MySpace," Hoffman said. "Surprisingly enough, these people want to be ‘friends’ with car dealers."

As someone who has kicked around on MySpace a bit (purely for "research," of course "[;)]"), I’ve received similar messages for local comedians interested in promoting themselves through the MySpace community, which can be organized by geography. And of course, since the beginning the site has gained a great deal of traffic and buzz as a medium for bands to promote their recorded music and live performances.

Local businesses seem to be the next step, although MySpace’s terms of use forbid commercial intent, and some methods that have been used by marketers to gain exposure or push promotions through a network of "friends" on the site. As we’ve pointed out in the past, MySpace must be careful not to compromise the user experience by making it overly commercialized. Its largely teenage user demographic is known to be somewhat fickle and has erstwhile seen MySpace as a place free of parents, law and commercial presence. Indeed, this has helped fuel the site’s runaway success.

Still, the concept of advertising local businesses on a social network is intriguing and is in line with many of the advantages of viral marketing. It will be interesting to watch this unfold.

In other MySpace news, the company launched the public beta of its Instant Messenger product yesterday. We’ll examine it closer in the near future.

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