RISMEDIA, December 17, 2010—My friend Ben Casnocha once warned: “beware of advice from…professional advice-giver[s], rather than someone in the trenches. The best advice on networking will come from someone who is not a professional networker.”
Of course, this depends on your definition of “best.” If you are looking for a portfolio of strategies that will help you get every possible bit of value from social media, stop reading this and return to your social media guru of choice. On the other hand, if you seek simple social strategies that will help build your business with minimal time investment, this one rule is for you.
Why focus on Facebook?
Almost everyone who uses the Internet is on Facebook. In the U.S., that’s about 150 million people, compared with 40 million for LinkedIn and 25 million for Twitter. That means there are about 100 million people who are only using Facebook. Since these people have fewer online connections, they are more likely to deal with people in their immediate networks. This means less time wasted with clients who are interviewing a bunch of different professionals.
Facebook is about long-lasting real-life relationships. For trust-based industries such as real estate and mortgage, in which professionals do a small number of deals each year, it’s crucial to protect your core customer base of family, friends and friends-of-friends. As Redfin’s numbers show, it’s very hard to win business from clients who have a pre-existing relationship with another agent or broker.
Facebook users are addicted to the site. A full 25% of all Internet page-views are now on Facebook, dwarfing the other social outlets. Neither Twitter nor LinkedIn, for example, surpass a half percent of page views. This means that your friends are pretty likely to actually see and read your posts. Stik users, for example, have had great luck requesting recommendations from their Facebook friends.
At Stik.com, we believe that clients will soon view sales professionals who lack a well-developed Facebook presence as “having something to hide.” Eventually, we’ll laugh at the days when privacy concerns trumped professional opportunities.
And why are Twitter and LinkedIn so much less useful?
On Twitter, competition is fierce, so you really need to go big or go home. Unless you are regularly hilarious in just 140 characters—which is hard and time-consuming—your few humble tweets will be forgotten just as quickly as they are pushed down the page by top-tweeters Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher, Barack Obama, or (heaven forbid) any of these robo-tweeters.
LinkedIn is about expertise and hiring, and LinkedIn’s business centers around getting corporate recruiters to pay for access to talent. Did you know that it costs $10 to send an “InMail” to a professional outside your network? How many clients do you think will do that? It’s still worth filling out your LinkedIn profile just in case, but don’t expect it to be a lifeline.
We’ve built Stik.com on the Facebook Platform to help sales professionals capture business from family, friends and friends-of-friends, with a lot less upkeep than most social media gurus prescribe. When clients search for a professional on Stik, they’ll find people that their friends know and they’ll read personalized recommendations that stand the test of time. We’re often asked if we plan to integrate Stik with other social networks, and we do in some limited ways, but we’re focusing on Facebook because Facebook is the home of the most real, trusting relationships, and you should too.
Nathan Labenz is co-founder of Stik.com