They say you been out wandering,
they say you travelled far.
Sit down young stranger
and tell us who you are.Gordon Lightfoot
Hit The Road by Andy in NYC
Recently I read a blog post by Patrick Sexton stating that he (along with Rhea Drysdale, Lisa Barone, and (later) Christina Gleason) were leaving WeBuildPages. Now, its none of my business what caused this major exodus at that company nor did I find anything particularly interesting or insightful in this particular post. However, reading his announcement crystallized an idea in my head that Ive know for some time but have yet to put into words
Search marketing branding is almost exclusively personal branding. Corporate / agency branding means very little in our industry. The corporate / agency brand of a search marketer is like a suit of clothesthey get worn for a while but at some point, theyll get changed for something more appropriate and fitting.
Im not suggesting that all search marketers are a bunch of carpetbaggers. On the contrary, I see very intense, strong loyalties in our industry. However, these loyalties are to other search marketers and they supersede any and all corporate relationships.
Think about it for a minute:
When you get Linked-In with someone, your connection is another person.
When you Facebook Friend someone, your friend is another person.
When you follow somebody on Twitter, you follow another person (even if theyre representing a brand).
The large volume of interactions we all make via social media on a daily basis are almost exclusively interpersonal. I dont know the employer / employment status of well over half the people Im communicating with and that information is usually of little or no consequence to me.
I first became aware of Patrick when he won a free pass to SMX Advanced from Aaron Wall. I liked Patrick when I met him at that show even though it was hard for me to reconcile the life of the party Patrick with the person capable of writing quite moving and meaningful blog posts. However, when I had a chance to talk with him at a later conference, I quickly realized that Patrick had a very sharp, savvy business sense, as was borne out in his GetListed venture with David Mihm. Patrick has smartly found himself a search marketing specialty (gadgets/widgets) and he has established himself as the top authority in that area. I have no idea if Patrick and I will ever work together on anything but Im sure well stay connected, touch base from time to time, help each other out via social media, and perhaps use each other as resources if the need requires.
When people are asked about the benefits of social media participation, they talk about the ability to broadly disseminate information or reach out to people that they wouldnt ordinarily have access to. Many overlook that a well-developed social network is a wonderful self-preservation tool. More often than not, your corporate brands commitment to you and your family will last only as long as its in the brands best interest to stay loyal. When you are cast to the wolves and left to your own devices and machinations, ultimately you have only your friends and connections to rely upon.
How have you treated those in your network? Have you Sphunn / Retweeted / Linked to content on behalf those that have asked? Have you offered encouragement to your contacts? Have you created useful content for others to consume and learn from? Within the search marketing community, those who have given much are almost always taken care ofthats the ethos of our industry. Thats why brands matter so little in search marketingthey play such a small part in our relationships.