A Taste of the Future (No Crystal Ball Needed) – Online Consulting Tips

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.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/webtreatsetc/4305344218/in/set-72157623226308089/

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