Balancing cool with hard cash

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Unless you’ve been living in Narnia recently you’ll be quite familiar with the word ‘recession’. It’s striking fear into everyone and challenging pretty much every business’s reason for being. If you’re not profitable, you’ll stumble; if you don’t make other people profits, you’re regarded as a luxury.

Chis DeWolfe – co-founder and chief executive of MySpace – made a rather salient point yesterday when fighting his corner in the social networking ring. He argued that, despite waning popularity, his site is the only one that’s making any money. Fair point.  While Twitter has everyone talking and Facebook has stolen ground on MySpace in terms of user numbers, neither – particularly the former – has the same successful business model.

A self-confessed web geek admitted to me the other day that he abandoned Facebook for an ‘entire’ year when he noticed ad banners appearing on the site. MySpace may not be flavour of the month, but isn’t it more important to be profitable? Isn’t it inevitable in the current climate that everyone will have to ‘sell out’ in order to survive?

The moment that Twitter becomes a commercial entity will be probably be the point that its die hard followers tweet away. But being a part of the conversation and entwining social media into traditional communication techniques is vital for any forward-thinking PR agency to increase brand awareness for its clients. Shouldn’t social networking sites also get a bite of the commercial cherry, or is that just a sacrilegious statement amongst the ardent Web 2.0 followers?