We All Need Friends
You’ve analyzed the on-page and off-page factors that will go into your search engine optimization campaign. The designers have finished your gorgeous, super exciting layout, and your pay per click campaign is set to go live. By all accounts your site is ready to go. Now what do you do?
It’s time to make friends. Look alive, people!
Yesterday, Jennifer Laycock explained to readers that if you want your business to be successful, you need to have friends and we couldn’t agree more. As cool as you think you and your little antisocial site are, relationship building will be vital to its success. Even the weird Susan Esparzas of the world need friends.
It doesn’t matter how revolutionary your product is or if your site is so navigable I can find what I’m looking for with one eye closed and my mouse hand tied behind my back, a large part of your site’s and your business’s success will be dependant on your ability to establish and maintain positive relationships. And just like in life, a few good friends are always better than 100 people who wave to you even though they secretly don’t really know/like you.
[Waves to Susan.]
Before you launch your site to the world you need to work to establish relationships with others in your industry. Believe it or not, there are people living in bubbles that look identical to yours. They too like to play with geeky toys; they too live at the office; and they too haven’t seen sunlight since New York had that crazy week-long power outage a few years back. Find these people and become crazy friends with them. You’ll need their support.
You don’t have to make friends with all of your industry’s crazies. It’s fine to discriminate a little, as long as you’re not doing it by age, sex, or gender. Look for the companies who seem to abide by the same values that yours does; this will give others an idea of what you’re about. Find people you respect in the industry. Attend a conference like SES NY and spend some time actually getting to know people. It’s important to get your name and face out there. You never know when these connections will come in handy and it’s important to the success of your brand. If people know you, they’re more likely to be open to getting to know your company.
You should also be forming friendships with the people visiting your site. Get to know them and let them see you’re more than just a cold home page. If you’ve designed your site correctly and done your keyword research, you should already know quite a bit about them. You should know their interests, the vocabulary they use, their level of tech savviness, etc. Take this information and use it to interact with them and form lasting relationships. Create a blog, incorporate social features onto your site, personalize your emails, etc. Be more than just the person trying to sell them something.
Again, just like Jennifer says, you don’t need to be everyone’s friend:
"You don’t need to personally befriend every single person that might want to buy your products or services, but you do need to work on building relationships with key influencers. With viral marketing becoming such an integral part of any marketing campaign, businesses need to learn how to identify the people that are capable of spreading the word."
This is why Robert Scoble and Michael Arrington are popular at parties – they’re industry influencers. It’s the reason so many parties at this year’s SES NY are invitation-only. Companies want to reward the key influencers. This is important, but don’t forget the other people. Don’t forget the small-time clients who were with you in the beginning just because you think you’re a big shot now.
When I was a kid, my parents once made me join a frightening cult. I had to wear a silly sash, sleep in the woods, and partake in slave labor in return for pointless tiny triangles. At night, adults would stand over me and singsong that I should make new friends, but keep the old (I think one was silver and the other they turned to gold). It confused me at the time but now I’m going to impart the same words of wisdom to you, without the creepy factor: Work at forging new relationships to reach out and promote your brand, but don’t lose sight of the people who liked you when you were smaller and less attractive. You’ll need them later.