Coming in third isn’t so bad when you’re competing in the Olympics, where it earns you a place on the podium and a medal. But when you’re in third place among U.S. social networking sites, and the first two slots are taken by Facebook and MySpace, respectively, it’s a little less glamorous.

But is hoping to leverage its claim as third-largest U.S. social networking service to lure artists into using the site to premier new content in an environment free of the noise and clutter of its competitors. Today, it went live with an exclusive stream of a live Bon Jovi concert video featuring an acoustic version of the song “Saturday Night” along with a personalized message left by the act’s keyboardist, David Bryan.’s VP of sales, Steve Sarner spoke with Billboard about the deal and where it fits into the site’s grand plan.

How does this Bon Jovi initiative fit into your strategy?
We’re in the beginning stages of bringing new music releases to our membership base. Tagged’s all about social discovery and meeting new people. We’ve teamed up with a few musicians to help people discover their new material as well. We released Distant Relatives’ song “Friends” last week and it did really, really well. We had over 100,000 interactions and viral passalongs. The profile generated several thousand new friends a day. Bon Jovi is a completely different genres, and we’re really excited to see what happens.

So we should expect to see more like this?
Yes. We’re in discussions with an R&B artist, another rock artist and another rapper. Maybe even a country artist, which would be fun.

What’s your membership base like? Who’s your core user?
We’re the third-largest social networking service in the U.S. in terms of total monthly visits, which is over 70 million a month according to comScore. It’s really mainstream America. It’s a wide swat of people and it reflects the U.S. population. It tends to be more single people, about 75% of our members are 21-plus. A little more oriented towards singles as many use us for a dating angle. About 30% of our members are African-American. Bon Jovi is more appealing to an older crowd, and the 35-plus crowd is our fastest area of growth.

Given the dominance of Facebook and the music-focus of MySpace, where do you hope to play a role here?
Our real niche is meeting new people. Facebook is all about keeping in touch with people you already know. On Tagged, it’s natural to reach out and friend new people whereas on Facebook that would be kind of weird. And no question that MySpace has really carved out its place as a place for music. We’re trying to find new features on the site to make it easier for users to reach out and meet new people. We have a whole range of social games, and that’s a great way to meet new people. We have easy tools for people to introduce themselves to others online. And so we’re hoping bringing music to the site is another conversation starter, just another icebreaker or another reason to engage with somebody. It’s just another conduit to meet new friends.

What about the artists? What are you offering them in return for their content?
Well we’re offering a large and very engaged audience. We are actually No. 1 according to comScore with the highest average time-per-user at 12-some minutes. Also, 60% of our members tell us we’re their primary social network. While 80% of them also participate on other social networks, 60% say we’re their primary. So we’re offering the ability to reach an untapped group of people. On Tagged, they’re going to get a lot more presence than ever on a Facebook an MySpace because we’re able to break through the clutter. We’re not doing a new music release every day.