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How do you scale friendship?

Andreas Voniatis | August 23, 2012

Why do you even need or want to scale friendship? If you think about it, that is what every marketer tries to do - match buyers with sellers.  And if a friendship is a relationship that is based on an exchange of value remember J D Rockefeller did once say:

“A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.”

Then my definition of friendship probably doesn’t sound so cynical afterall.  So to my mind, scaling friendship is something as marketers we all try to do as the scalability of the internet does indeed make this challenge possible to meet.

To answer the question, I think the challenge is met in the following stages:

1. Build or create something of value

In order to make friends you need to have or possess something that the potential friend would value.  I remember in my first Webmaster World when some guy with a pen and a stack of post it notes was going round meeting everybody and eventually came round to our table asking us what we all did and our backgrounds.  I presume he was deciding whether we were worth talking to for his own purposes. The point is, if it’s not obvious by now, is that nobody is going to want to be friends with you unless you’re interesting or have something that they want.  The same goes with your website - you must have something the visitor wants.  Of course we all know what that answer is don’t we?  CONTENT!  Content that either entertains and or gives us answers. Do this regularly in order to scale!

2. Be visible by being searchable

Despite what well known search experts say about needing to “showcase your content” by link building I couldn’t agree any less.  You don’t need to showcase your content.  You simply need to be visible by being searchable.  Thats right, you can see where I’m heading with this one because by optimising your site for web search, you will put your website in the best position to have it’s content found in the search engines, social media and  other places on the internet.  This means sorting out your site architecture housekeeping using webmaster tools, structured data if you have an ecommerce style site and not doing anything daft with flash or j-query.

3. Prepare to exchange

Now that your producing content and it’s searchable, you will no doubt be seen as an active member and people from the relevant communities may get in touch with you.  Some will ask to buy links off you or won’t even offer to pay you  Either way you can tell them where to go.  Some may offer to provide you with content that is nothing other than guest post mush - beware these people are like one night stands of the internet and will only make you look dirty in the eyes of the search engine when they bring in the Guest Post act next year in 2012 (code for Google Algorithm update punishing low quality guest posts.  But there is hope, some people will actually offer to write a regular column on your site, exchange links, may be even ask you to write a regular column on their site.  When that day comes be prepared to exchange.

4. Prepare to exchange again

Now that you’re seen writing on other sites and your site is attracting audiences because you allowed a genuine authority to blog on your site, more exchanges will no doubt flood your way.  This is viral publishing.  You have now earned media coverage.  Again be prepared to exchange.  As you contribute heavily towards the community with your writings, thoughts, public speeches you will attract new followers and maybe customers - and that is how you scale friendship - with inbound content.

Andreas qualified as a management accountant (ACMA) after graduating in Economics with honours from Leeds University. In 2003, pursued a career in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and has since held various Head of Search roles for award winning agencies including Infectious Media and prestigious startups. In 2010, Andreas became an independent consultant to international agencies and brands worldwide providing SEO consultancy services and online PR, including Exxon Mobil, Tesco, HSBC, Zurich, Quorn as well as startups including Discount Vouchers. His work has been featured in the Telegraph and Search Engine Watch particularly for reverse engineering the Google Penguin algorithm to a 98% statistical confidence level in 2013.