The PR battleground for social networks

With social networks like Facebook and MySpace in the news a great deal, I find it interesting to get a sense of the depth of behind-the-scenes business planning going on and the role of PR in that planning.

According to BrandRepublic:

Facebook hunts UK agency
A dozen UK PR agencies have been approached by Facebook as it sets out to challenge MySpace’s dominance in Europe. Agencies including Mantra and Fishburn Hedges have been invited to present their credentials to coincide with Facebook’s opening of a London office later this month. It will then whittle the longlist down to a pitch shortlist of five.

LinkedIn brings in Bite to safeguard its niche
Business networking site LinkedIn has asked Bite to boost its UK profile as Facebook threatens its dominance in professional circles. Tech specialist Bite won a seven-way pitch against agencies including Lewis and Chameleon. The US-based site’s ­international director Liz O’Donnell did not deny that competition from Facebook was a motivating factor for Bite’s appointment. ‘We didn’t have any PR in the UK before,’ she said. ‘Some of it had to do with competition, and some was just raising our brand’s profile.’

And a related story about a social network that doesn’t look like one but is one:

Wag Ed to launch virtual trade site
Waggener Edstrom has won a brief to launch GameXa, a trading platform that allows online game players to buy and sell virtual currencies. The site currently caters to gamers playing the hugely popular World of Warcraft, which has more than 6.5 million registered players worldwide. World of Warcraft currently makes more money from selling virtual currency, ‘gold’, than from subscriptions to the game itself.

Add that one to the story about the recent credit card launch in Second Life and you get a strong view of the high-stakes business opportunities that will be be fought over in the coming months.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Peter Kwong

    What a great brief for a PR agency to get. Facebook is practically in the papers everyday. I for one am looking forward to being able to work with them to help brands understand the power of social media and also the rules of engagement that could go along with it.

    There is a lot of negative press around Facebook stirred up by a media that needs headlines, hopefully we can have a more considered discussion about the real possibilities that social media can offer when they arrive.

  2. neville

    These have to be some of the most exciting PR opportunities to get involved with today, Peter.

    Maybe the LinkedIn one presents the most challenges as Facebook in particular looks as though it’s rapidly increasing its penetration among business users, the very people likely to use LinkedIn.

    If the agencies aren’t going to be up and running with plans for some months – looking likely re Facebook – I wonder if fast-moving events will overtake those plans.

    I’d be looking at social media PR rather than traditional approaches.

  3. Peter Kwong

    Hi Neville.

    I would agree it won’t be about traditional approaches, which needs new rules of engagements and measurements. I’ve sent you some info on a project that I’m working on that has some implications in this area and would be good to open up this discussion more

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