Archive for July 13th, 2011


The Value of Friends

Doe you like me? Do you really, really like me?

We know a person who has 1400 Facebook friends. He is quite proud of this. Yesterday, he asked us, “So how can I leverage my FB friends to SEO my business site?”

Seemed a reasonable question. We thought about it some and even argued a bit. Somebody said something about social networks driving search, ecommerce, and personal relationships. Somebody else said something about Google+ and Likes and Thumbs Up and then somebody else said “Balls. It’s all bollocks.  How many of your 1400 friends would come to your 50th birthday party? How many of them would go with you to the pub for a pint? How many of ’em would help you move?”

Which really seemed to nail it. Social networking—whether for personal lives or business—has become pretty meaningless. Sure, if your business’s Facebook page collects “likes” you can use them for endless marketing messages. Sure, you can send all 1400 friends a wedding invitation and hope for 3 or 4%response rate for gifts. But really. Think about it.

This guy’s business is pipe fittings. Are there really 1400 people out there who are avid fans of pipe fittings? How many of them even glance at his twice daily dose-of-mundanity postings? How many of them put him on ignore?

How many will every actually buy anything?

Which brings us to this: social networking as a marketing tool may have applications for businesses with an inherent fan-base potential. Even significant applications, maybe. Businesses with fan-base potential. Which is not a very high percentage of businesses, despite what your marketing gurus and SEO consultants may tell you.

For most businesses—online or not—trying to jump on the social bandwagon to “leverage your friends” is like trying to run an Amway distributor pyramid using only your close family. It’s kind of pointless. And kind of wrong.

Friends are people you like, who like you. You form connections between people based on mutual interests and concerns. You want to stay in touch with your friends. You want them to succeed and be happy. They want the same for you.

Friends are not just another marketing segment, demographic, or customer base.