Surprise - the internet is changing. In fact, the change has already begun. The internet is changing from a search dominated world to a discovery dominated world and that is fantastic news for small, local businesses. Here’s why:
Search = Big Business
When the internet was first born, it was used primarily as a way to communicate with other people (think email, AIM, chat rooms, etc.). Then, people like Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Tony Hsieh (Zappos) figured out that you can sell things to consumers on the internet. Then, Google (and others) learned that people were looking for things on the internet but it was poorly organized. That is when online search advertising grew to be really big.
Consumers wanted to find information, so they searched for it - Google sold the right to dominate the search results to advertisers. That meant that when someone searched for suitcase, Samsonite could pay to come up first, instead of a local luggage shop, for example. But now things are changing…Don’t get me wrong, search is still important. But it’s significance will drop over the next 3-10 years as discovery functions like location-based apps and social networks continue to grow exponentially.
Discovery = Small Business
The internet is moving to a place where consumers are finding what they want through online recommendation or curated lists. In other words, the world around them is getting filtered against each of their personal preferences/context. So now, if I want to find a suitcase, I can ask my friends on Facebook/Twitter where they recommend or pull up an app that tells me exactly how close the nearest, and best, luggage store is.
This is a GREAT thing for small businesses - in the world of search, the company that paid the most was displayed to a consumer who made the inquiry; in the world of discovery, the business with the most relevance in terms of quality and proximity is displayed to the consumer who made the inquiry. This means that Big Businesses can’t pay more to dominate discovery like they did with search.
Huge caveat for small businesses: YOU MUST BE FINDABLE
Consumers are dying to connect to their favorite local businesses, whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, Google Places, Yelp, or any of the other social networks, you just have to be present. So make a page! Here’s what it will do for you:
- Consumers can post feedback - they are more than 2/3 more likely to like and trust your store if they can read and post feedback
- Consumers can share their love for you - the relationships you build every day are really important marketing tools. Let consumers do your advertising by sharing their love for you online for everyone to see.
- Consumers can make connections with you - online networks are powerful. The average Facebook fan has 130 friends and the average twitter user has 27 followers…if they can friend/follow you, then they can share your information with their entire network. Amazingly successful and cheap way to get new customers.
- You can get constructive feedback - ever wonder what people like about your store? Ever wonder what people like about your competitor? Now you can learn both for free by letting consumers share with you.
- You will be discovered - many, many, many services are being created for consumers to help them discover local businesses. Many of those services rank businesses by their reviews, which come after you have an online presence. Build a presence, get discovered.
It is actually very quick and easy to build an online presence and the ROI potential is massive. If you don’t know how or haven’t gotten started, email us at email@example.com and we will help you get started for free. Yep, $0. It’s because we care and we know it’ll help you grow.
From this small business to yours - here’s to Internet 3.0!