Beating a Visible Path to Your Business's Doorstep

I’m VERY impressed with an article in Business Week Online about a new social networking site for businesses, called Visible Path. 

Most of you are familiar with, or have a least heard of, social-networking sites such as MySpace or FaceBook.  They are set up for individuals to connect and socialize online. 

There are also some networking places – like LinkedIn and Ecademy – where business owners can meet and greet.  But the proponents of Visible Path aim to take social networking for businesses to another level.  Here’s a snippet from the article:

Visible Path looks different from other social-networking sites. Users don’t create home pages or profiles on Visible Path. The site instead keeps tabs on whom its users communicate with by e-mail or through other means. And it ranks the strength of those relationships based on how often people communicate. Then it helps users find common sources and contacts so they can approach one another to do business.
MULTIPLE PATHS.  Here’s an example of how the site works: Let’s say a salesperson at company A wants to contact the chief information officer at company B. The suitor could make a cold call, but that’s not a very good way to get through the front door. Visible Path would let the salesperson seek a colleague or business associate who has a connection to the CIO. He or she may find multiple “paths,” in fact. The site also will compile publicly available research on the CIO, tapping resources such as Google or Hoovers.

4WebResults has been working with BMC.com on some social computing-related projects. They are not as large-scale or comprehensive as MySpace (or this new start-up). However, the BMC.com social computing projects are oriented toward building communities of people who share common interests and want to contribute their knowledge and insights about shared topics. The experiment of incorporating direct social interaction with the community is just getting going at www.dbazine.com; however, the traffic increased dramatically after we simply added blogs and RSS feeds. 

But social networking isn’t about blogs and RSS; it’s about people. It’s about getting the technology out of the way so it’s easy for people to gather and contribute their expertise in common areas of interest and to connect with others who can help them. These are like huge “trust” pools where people with shared interests can interact with each other and gain from the interaction. It’s not about cramming more advertising or consumption into the website; those things come from the members’ interactions with each other.

Here’s the point from an SEO persective: When users create and share content  in specific areas, they also have an opportunity to be more visible in the search engines. That’s a usable, productive, social computing tool. This new movement is more empowering than posting anonymously on a forum, as it allows everyone to blog, publish, share and interact in a more sophisticated manner.

Tom

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