Ruud Questions: Brian Wallace

Brian is one of those people I know via Sphinn. With his trademark N avatar he became easily recognizable. And it wasn't just the avatar either; he has an uncanny eye for what's hot in the SEO industry.

Our own Tom Tsinas said:

I cant remember reading something Brian wrote that didnt have me changing the way I think about SEO. Heres a guy who really gets it!

Today's conversation is social media focused; Brian's forte.

Highlights are mine.

You're heavy into social media, social networks. If SEO works at driving more targeted traffic via organic search, then what does social media and social networking do? What does it mean for a business?

Social media is a phrase that's thrown around as a buzzword with little thought sometimes. It isn't just a better press release or getting to the front page of Digg. It's really about giving your brand a soul.

Have you ever been on hold when calling a company? Speaking all day to phone menus and people reading from scripts? It just isn't very personal. When consumers know that they have someone actually out there and listening to them (think Zappos, Dell, Comcast), they feel more comfortable doing business. So you could say that brand identity and customer service are a big part of social media versus SEO which is targeted traffic via organic search.

Social media doesn't stop there though. When companies embrace social media, they can come out with exceptional pieces of content which become magnets for links. And when such campaigns are done properly, these too will bring targeted traffic via organic search, not to mention bring up the site domain-wide in the process.

Are social networks to individuals what the web is to big brands so that reputation management for Jane Doe happens on social networks while for Acme Inc. it happens on the web?

I would agree that reputation management looks like a more daunting task for a big brand, since they need to be watching company, brands, employees, and competitors.

It would seem that Jane Doe only has to watch what she says and what people are saying about her.

Really though, Jane Doe needs to be just as mindful, and should have at least claimed profiles on the major social networks (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter) and be subscribed to Google alerts for her name.

Will people grow out of the walled web gardens that Facebook and MySpace are up to a point? And if that would happen, where would you see these sites themselves heading?

For the most part, people have already pushed a few stones out of the way and are getting out of the walled garden already.

Blogging continues to rise, as to microblogging and video sharing sites.

People are creating social networks by the day, many of which are not walled gardens.

I'd expect Facebook and MySpace to pay attention to this as well (and already are; think Facebook connect).

Chris Brogan said "Not every company needs social media" Agree? If so, who does and who doesn't?

Chris has a great post a while back about cafe shaped conversations. To his point - yes - a lot of social media is more like building the cool cafe where people hang out rather than mass market. We have to remember though that social media is in its infancy and I do believe that social media will be able to scale yet larger.

I would make the point: instead of saying "not every company needs social media," let's say that "companies should enter the realm of social media when they have already established other building blocks."

So what are building blocks? If they don't already use email marketing, a 10 year old website that they were just about to add Digg buttons to, aren't utilizing SEO and the like - they aren't ready. Social won't make them rush to the forefront of people's minds - everything else should be in order first.

Your best friend's daughter wants to earn an extra buck online. Feasible? If so, should she consider selling her social media networking time to advertisers or even to consultants such as yourself?

Sure, send her resume over 🙂

In all seriousness, it depends on her willingness to learn and keep up with the times. You would think that all Gen Y people naturally feel at home on social media networks, yet this this a misnomer. She's either the type to be into it or not.

There are plenty of freelance consultants such as that friend's daughter - as long as they are professional (read: don't put up drunken pics on Facebook for HR to get mad about), things could go well.

She's gone ahead and setup a blog on a topic she is passionate about. Apart from "write killer content!" -- what do you suggest she does to get the whole thing going?


In social media, you are nothing without your community. There are lots of people with personal blogs with little/no following. That's basically an online diary.

Here are some other traits/abilities I'd suggest:

· fast typing skills
· ability to reason and respond quickly
· be sincere and original, have opinions
· be interesting

About the Author: Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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