“Will you be my friend?”…Barney the Dinosaur

Within the community of search engine marketers, a herd mentality definitely exists. When multiple early adapters talk about the same thing at the same time, we all go check it out. In 2006, when Facebook opened to everyone, I signed up, looked around, yawned, and promptly forgot about it. Recently however, many prominent members of the SEO community that I follow and respect all started talking about Facebook simultaneously which told me that I was missing out on an important conversation that I needed to hear and participate in. So, I went back to Facebook, created my page and I now see its enormous potential.

Despite the wonderful openness and generosity that most SEM´s possess, building meaningful relationships within the industry can still be a challenge because unless you somehow end up working together with a project (like us Portlanders with SEMpdx), it´s very difficult to communicate with people long enough for relationships to naturally develop. And while you might think you might know someone quite well from being a regular reader of their blog / column, they still don´t know who the heck you are.

The way relationships develop on Facebook mimic much more closely how relationships develop in real life. Your complete information is exposed only to the people in your “networks”. Most folks are members of their geographical network (and work network if applicable), though you need not be a member of any network and can keep your information private to everyone but your friends.

Messaging someone via Facebook is done at a much more personal level that most other forms of electronic contact. The recipient sees your profile photo which humanizes the communication and they are more likely to pay attention to their Facebook messages since a Facebook inbox isn´t overflowing like a typical email inbox. By attempting to “friend” someone, you open up your entire profile page to that person and they should get a good enough sense of you as a person from your page so they can decide whether to accept. With acceptance, the complete profiles of both parties are revealed which will allow more meaningful relationships to develop because each party can now find commonalities of interests.

Every time a friend performs an action on their Facebook page, their action gets reported in a mini-feed viewable on your page. By following all the actions of your friends, you all become part of same community. Your friends will be adding applications that you might find cool, joining interesting groups or perhaps making friends with somebody that you would like to know as well. They can help drive your discovery of facets of Facebook. Alternatively, you can easily discover Facebook yourself.

Many have commented that Facebook is just a big timewaster. Being active in a group formed to protest Scarlett Johansson´s decision to record an album of Tom Waits songs isn´t likely to help you grow your business. However, there is plenty of opportunity to use Facebook as a vehicle for serious networking. I´ve used it to reach out people who might be interested in working for my employer and the people I communicated with were totally comfortable with my method of contact. If I were looking for a freelance programmer or designer, I would have many people that I can talk to or many groups where I could post my request.

As a networking vehicle, Facebook has way more potential than Linked-In. Linked-In profiles are very resume-like and most lack the features that distinguish one professional from another. Facebook allows a user almost total freedom in distinguishing himself / herself. If you are considering talking to a whole bunch of different contractors, why not focus on someone who listens to the same bands as you? You are more likely to make a personal connection with that person which should lead to a stronger working relationship.

Much of the SEO community is now hanging out on Facebook. If you want to get to know us better and make our acquaintance, you need to be hanging out on Facebook too. Be our friends …we´re all groovy people:.)

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

August 6, 2007

Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing & Information Systems for S.R. Clarke Inc., a Real Estate Development and Residential / Commercial Construction Executive Search / Recruiting Firm headquartered in Fairfax, VA with offices nationwide. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association.

Search Engine Guide > Todd Mintz > The SEO Invasion of Facebook