I’ve been heavily involved in social media marketing for several years, and involved in internet marketing for our company since 1997. I began my own online consulting business in 2009. As such, I’ve seen a lot of changes take place over time.
Here are a few potential surprises, depending on how long you’ve been active online:
When I first started optimizing our website for the search engines, Yahoo was absolutely dominant, with something on the order of 65% market share. If you weren’t being found on Yahoo, you weren’t getting a whole lot of traffic. Was Google in second place? Nope – it didn’t even exist. Other search engines that were important back then included Excite, Lycos, and Altavista. Have you heard much about those lately? Wow! Me, neither.
When I began blogging for business in 2007, MySpace was the dominant social network platform. Facebook existed, but it was sort of a non-factor for marketing. Twitter also existed, but it hadn’t gained much traction. Now, MySpace seems like a giant abandoned playground.
Statistically, people are spending less and less time watching television, or reading traditional (meaning not online) newspapers. Those who do watch TV shows watch a good-sized percentage on sites like Hulu.com and Fancast.
I haven’t looked anything up in an actual Yellow Pages in many years, and I would wager that you haven’t either.
Despite Facebook’s recent privacy concerns, they have edged out Google as the most-visited site online for the past couple of months. Let that really sink in for a second.
Can you guess what the second-place search tool online for raw traffic is today after Google? It’s YouTube.
So, what does all of this mean for the future of your own marketing efforts?
- First, don’t focus on the tools and platforms themselves. Instead, focus on having a strategy for engaging people on your own turf and terms somehow. (i.e. Don’t depend on Facebook to always be there for you. It may be a distant memory in 10 years.)
- If your business doesn’t have a social media strategy, the time is absolutely NOW (or more accurately, yesterday) to figure this out.
In the next several years, if your business doesn’t have a social component that allows your customers/clients to share their experiences about you along with some type of strategy on your part to “listen” to their needs/concerns/praise, two things will happen:
1. They will be talking about you anyway.
2. You won’t hear them.
The bottom line here is that I wouldn’t waste any time or effort on “snail mail”, TV, radio, or print advertising UNLESS you are planning to tie it into your website/blog/online presence somehow. After all, as marketing becomes one big conversation, you don’t want your business to be the shy wallflower in the corner.