The big idea for me was captured in the phrase that the internet has progressed from the “wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends“.
We have all taken recommendations for restaurants and holiday locations from our friends. Why is this ? Because we trust their judgement. This is backed up by some statistics which shows that we give information from fam
ily and friends a 92% trust rating compared to 47% for information on TV and newspapers.
In essence this is the opportunity that Facebook offers to accountants and solicitors in Ireland i.e. the opportunity to allow clients and fellow professionals to recommend them to their network based on a positive experience.
The numbers are impressive – the average Facebook user has 130 friends. There are 2 million users in Ireland alone, 1.25m of whom log in daily. So the potential exists to reach a wider audience than would ever be possible face to face.
In essence what the speaker was saying is tied up in some very old ideas ie the importance of trust and of word of mouth referrals.
In truth the Facebook people were there to sell their advertising platform. However in fairness to them there is some logic in all of this for professional service firms. Their advice was to progress in small steps – “crawl, walk, run, fly” is how they put it.
Step 1 is to develop a Facebook page and to start making connections with your network. Step 2 is to start advertising which will connect you with people outside of your network. Step 3 is to develop Facebook apps which is high end stuff and probably not suitable for most professional service firms.
However the central point is that when you are dealing with people, prospective clients will continue to ask their friends and colleagues for recommendations. So the utility of Facebook to my mind is to digitally do what we have all been doing for years and years. The significant difference is the potential number of people who can be reached and the potential to achieve this without ever leaving your desk.
It takes a little bit of work to get started but it might be time to take a look. Nothing ventured ……