Will Scott will be speaking about “Facebook” at SearchFest 2010, which will take place on March 9th at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Tickets are available now. To purchase, please click the following link.

1) Please give me your background and tell us what you do for a living.

I’ve been working on the web my whole professional life. I put my first web site online while still in Architecture school in 1994 and have been connected to the web ever since. (For the geeks out there I wrote the code for the School of Architecture by hand in the emacs editor on a RISC 6000 cluster in the Tulane University computer labs).

Though I have a degree in Architecture I’ve never practiced. I was lucky to discover my true love before it was too late and I’ve been working it ever since.

From school I went to work for a department that taught healthcare management at Tulane where I developed their first data driven, interactive web site ( powered by MS Access and old-style ASP) ran distance learning and taught technology in a program for physician executives.

After a couple years in a monster bureaucracy I decided I had too much money in savings and started my first startup. I solved that savings problem

From 2000-2006 I led software development and production for a web startup. We started as a small business web production house and ended as a company that built the software which drove over 700 local yellow pages web sites. We built them, the clients said “what’s next?” and ultimately we became responsible for driving millions of unique visits to them.

On exiting YPsolutions (acquired by Local Matters) I decided that we should be able to drive traffic, not to the yellow pages, but to the small business advertisers they were serving. It’s easier to compete when you can focus, and I always felt small businesses were leaving money on the table with Yellow Pages.

4 years later, Search Influence serves more than 80 clients in high-value verticals. We’re profitable, growing and our customers are happy. In 4 years we’ve lost fewer than a dozen clients and we’re effective with budgets from $300 to $10,000 a month.

Search Influence is a full-service internet marketing company. We help clients with organic and paid search marketing, social media and online reputation management. We work mostly with local service businesses making “phones ring and doors swing”.

2) How can a true business message be delivered amongst the large amount of noise on Facebook?

I think it depends a lot on the business. There are some businesses which won’t have a strong reach on Facebook. I don’t see a big 5 accounting firm doing much with Facebook marketing other than advertising to soon-to-be Wharton and Harvard Business grads.

There are plenty of businesses however who can KILL It on Facebook.

If you’re a consumer facing brand, particularly one with an appeal to women and you’re not marketing on Facebook you are a sucker!

The recent data indicate that more than a third of the US is on Facebook. And, when you consider which third it is the argument is more compelling (they’re over 13 and they have internet access).

I you are a product or service business, even one with a local context, your customers are, no doubt, on Facebook. And as I learned from a couple Facebook employees, affiliate marketers LOVE Facebook too.

With Fan pages and Facebook advertising you can target very narrowly and build a human relationship with your clients and prospects. It makes a ton of sense as drip-marketing becomes more commonly understood that Facebook marketing would be a part of touching prospects and customers.

Facebook ad targeting is amazing – it’s practically behavioral. For instance, I can target all women within 50 miles of Atlanta, between 25 and 60, who are fans of Victoria’s Secret (around 16,000 of them).

When your customers are there, and you can get that granular in your targeting you’d have to be goofy not to sell something.

We’re lucky that a lot of our customers are medical and lifestyle businesses for whom the demographic targeting of Facebook can’t be beat.

3) How can you convince a business to become more “human” in social media?

It’s not always easy 🙂

The number one thing is to try to find someone within the organization who uses the medium you’re considering. You’re less likely to spam your own community and if you’re already a consumer of Social Media you have some sense of the rules of the road.

If you don’t have that internal evangelist, examples help. It’s easy to see who’s broadcasting and who’s communicating. Broadcasters don’t have nearly as many fans / followers / interactions as communicators.

And just because you’re not spamming doesn’t mean you can’t have a call to action.

And, there’s a place – on Facebook at least – where you can broadcast with impunity. The Ads.

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