Should Facebook and Myspace advertise?

I was intrigued by this post today in TechCrunch suggesting that Google may consider increasing its presence in mainstream media and traditional advertising.  (Honestly, I didn’t know that Google ran any traditional advertising but there you go.)

I’ve also toyed with the thought if mainstream advertising would also make sense for the big social community brands like Facebook, Myspace, Bebo and others.  It first popped into my mind as a little joke to myself, prompted by a podcast episode a few months back by Mitch Joel (Six Pixels of Separation), in which he assessed the differences between Facebook, Myspace and Linkedin as he saw them.  I realize that for some, the notion of online communities running conventional ads may sound like blasphemy.  But is it?

For those of us who have already gotten to know these different communities, their positions within the social media universe are relatively clear.  (And I do mean relatively — as in somewhat.)  But as social media communities move out of early adaption into the mainstream, and the number of offerings increase, it will become more and more difficult to tell them apart.   Especially for the less leading-edge segments of the population who aren’t so comfortable with the space yet, or still too intimidated to take the plunge and join an online social network.

For them, an engaging message from a Facebook or MySpace, delivered in media channels and formats they are familiar with and understand, might be just the nudge they need finally to log on and find the social community that’s right for them.  And might be just what the communities need to accelerate their expansion and build loyal user bases.

Pretty radical, huh?

What do you think?  Should social media communities advertise?

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