When I first shared the Facebook fan page we built for my dentist, a bunch of my friends scoffed. One even wrote, "Dentists on Facebook- what's next?" Many thousands of other small businesses and professionals, I hope. The L.A Times just published a great article about why so many small businesses are turning to Facebook - for their own needs. Here's why small businesses spending money building a presence on Facebook and social media sites are much better than them spending money on Google and search:
Facebook and social media sites are giant word-of-mouth multilpiers that support people sharing referrals and other information about who they know, like and trust.
Before Google, people always turned to who they know, like, and trust to decide who to hire and what to buy. They still do, but now, people can do it online, instantly. Think about it: If you are looking for a new dentist, or doctor, or accountant, or auto mechanic, would you rather find them searching Google, or ask your Facebook friends? Would you rather sort through their websites, or through their Facebook fan pages, where you can see which of your friends are 'fans', what your friends and others have written about them in reviews and on the Wall, and how else your friends have interacted with them.
Mark Zuckerberg clearly has a vision for the Facebook platform - which includes not only Fan Pages and Profiles but Facebook Connect. His vision is to connect people to other people, businesses, and organizations worldwide- large and small.
In a few years (maybe a few months, with the current pace of social media growth), people will be able to instantly find dentists, doctors, accountants, auto mechanics and more that their friends know like, and trust - not just ones that have spent the most money on paid search and SEO.
That's a good thing for all of us.