There’s little doubt the impact the internet has had on the world of business and commerce. Since the first web page was published by Tim Berners-Lee back in August 1991, the web has developed to influence all areas of modern life – everything from how we shop to how we watch media and search for information.
These days, the internet allows companies to operate on a global stage, reaching out to clients 24/7/365 in far-flung nations around the world. The web has also birthed some of our largest, most powerful firms with the likes of Google, Netflix and Amazon becoming household names and transforming the online experience.
How the internet changed the world of business
In its short history, the web has become our greatest informational resource and our go-to for researching companies, products and services. Indeed, today it’s estimated around 71% of all consumer journeys start with an online search – typically on Google which accounts for around 92% of the total traffic generated by search engines.
In the modern age, if your firm doesn’t command a strong online presence, it will be losing out on a massive potential marketplace and global opportunities. As the web has evolved, it has become the strongest medium in the marketing mix – a place where you can expand your audience and truly showcase your company’s range of products and services.
Social media – the ultimate disruptor
Perhaps more than any other web-based tech, social media has changed how we experience and interact with the web. While once it was enough to simply have a website, with the emergence and growth of social media sites, it’s now easier than ever to capture and retain new audiences.
Social media has proven to be the ultimate disruptor when it comes to the marketing and advertising sector. Where once firms had to pay hefty fees to publishing companies (newspapers, magazines, radio and TV companies, etc), the social sites upended the entire promotions process, putting companies firmly in control of their marketing – and all with a zero-price tag. Using social media marketing software, firms can now pre-write posts and schedule them for publishing at the most effective times, when the largest chunk of their intended audience is likely to be online. Not only that, they can also monitor in real-time the effectiveness of their marketing. No other media offers such precision and insight.
How social sites changed publishing
Social sites have transformed publishing and broadcasting. In very real terms, we are now all broadcasters and anyone with a smartphone or similar connected device can set up a social page in minutes to begin broadcasting to the world. The social sites have democratized publishing, making it accessible to everyone.
Of course, in its wake, social media has also accelerated the downfall of many traditional, paper-based publications, video, radio and TV companies that simply couldn’t compete with its reach, low pricing, interactivity and constantly updated content. While many still view the social sites as primarily the preserve of angst-ridden teens posting what they had for breakfast, in truth, having a strong social presence has the power to boost a brand’s image.
A reversal of the process of clients searching for information
Perhaps more importantly, social media reversed the entire idea of companies sharing information online. In the pre-social age, firms looking to broadcast news or updates would have posted a press release on their website in the hope that clients would visit and click through to read the full story. However, in the age of social media, if your firm has a strong social following, you can post updates and they’ll automatically appear in your clients’ timeline. Social sites operate almost like email newsletters – but in a much bigger market with vastly improved penetration. If you publish a popular post, your followers have the option to share it, potentially spreading your message to millions.
How social media is changing the landscape of online search
Social media isn’t just having an impact on traditional promotional media – it’s also increasingly changing how your clients (existing and potential) search for products and services. These days, customers expect firms to have more than just a website and will also often look for firms on the most popular social sites. By way of evidence of this, YouTube is now ranked officially as the world’s second-biggest search engine, just behind sister company Google (both of which are owned by parent company, Alphabet).
Using social to augment customer/company relations
Social sites have changed the customer/company relationship and allow firms the opportunity to build deeper bonds and greater allegiance with their clients by encouraging a two-way dialogue and making users feel part of their brand. If a client follows you on social media, they immediately make a transactional link with your company and - unwittingly or otherwise - begin a long-lasting relationship with your firm.
In today’s cut-throat market, social sites can bring a competitive edge over your counterparts and extend your marketing reach. Posting regularly to social media puts your company front and center in the minds of your clients, serving a timely reminder of who you are and what you do. In short, if you ignore the power of social, you could be missing out on huge opportunities.