If you can’t beat them, join them. News this week that Facebook and Myspace, two of the biggest rivals in the social media arena, are to form a rather unlikely alliance. Myspace has dubbed the move its “Mashup with Facebook”. The partnership will allow Myspace users to create a “personalised stream of entertainment content” by matching their likes and interests on Facebook to relevant Myspace topic pages, profiles, videos and other content in various categories such as TV and film, music and celebrities. It also allows users to engage with other fans who share the same interests, further promoting the concept of sharing, which is at the heart of social media. And this is about to be made even easier, since Myspace will reportedly soon incorporate the Facebook “Like” button onto its site. The collaboration appears to be engineered by both companies to combat the potential threat created by the launch of Apple’s music-orientated social network, Ping, in September this year. Ping allows the estimated 160 million iTunes users to follow their favourite artists and friends to find out what music people are talking about, listening to and downloading. They can find out about tour dates, and share views on new material. According to Apple, the number of users on its new social media service rocketed to 1 million within 48 hours of its launch, so the threat to other social networks is apparently very real, although as Josh Halliday points out in The Guardian, this threat may ultimately be limited, since Apple’s social network is restricted to users of iTunes.

The benefits for advertisers with the Myspace-Facebook alliance remain to be seen, but it goes without saying that with a potential combined audience of upwards of 600 million users worldwide, and growing, brand engagement opportunities seem endless. Lady Gaga currently has 32.6 million people “liking” her on Facebook, and 1.4 million friends on Myspace, not to mention her 7 million followers on Twitter. The major international brand Starbucks, has over one million followers on Twitter, and over 18 million “likes” on Facebook. In a week which saw the announcement of a new royal engagement, it is pertinent to note that even the Queen of England now maintains a vast presence on social media sites, running an official profile on Facebook, tweeting on her official Twitter page, and operating an official YouTube channel. It is essential these days for any and all brands to actively participate in the social media environment. But social media marketing is littered with legal and reputational pit-falls and advertisers need to tread carefully. Please see our AdGuide for further information on how to navigate this minefield and protect your brand online.