I’m moderating a panel at Digital East on Tuesday about digital innovations and social media. So, I thought I would take a look at some of the innovations that I’ve seen and try to predict some of the things that we’re likely to see in the future.
First of all, I’m sitting here recording post with Siri on my iPad, which I just think it’s awesome. I no longer have to type in my blog posts. That lead me to think about a world that’s more audio-based, than text-based — where many of our daily tasks are completed using software such as Siri to record our thoughts and transmit them in digital space. We’ve already seen a world where social media is more visual, is it possible that the future will be audio?
Maybe consumers in the future will speak to their devices to search and purchase products online. And, what would that be like? Would it expend from virtual space to real spaces? Would this allow us to shop without ever leaving our car? For instance, would everything be drive-through, allowing us to speak our needs into a digital device, swipe our phone to pay for the item, then pull around to have purchases loaded into our car?
It’s an interesting thought, but what will that mean for retailers who rely on their brick and mortar stores to entice unplanned purchases and the social element inherent in a brick and mortar shopping experience? And, what will this mean for prior digital innovations, such as newcomer Shopkick and the QR codes used ubiquitously in stores?
Digital Innovation: where we came from
Sometimes the best way to understand where we’re going is to take a look back at where we stand. In the not-too-distant past the Internet was just for scientists and for the military. But, beginning in the 1990s you saw the emergence of the World Wide Web. The ease of web development, emergence of easy-to-use browsers, like GOOGLE (Happy 14th Birthday) and cheap internet provides such as AOL, spread usage of the internet to ever-increasing groups of users.
Then, of course, we had a number of businesses jumping into the Internet especially in the form of e-commerce, forming what all know as the infamous dot-coms. The dot-coms failed miserably by the end of the 1990s and early 2000s mainly because their business models were very flawed.
Most dot-coms did not developed an effective way of commercializing their business model. Others failed to provide value for consumers over existing offerings. An exception is Amazon.com, which not only thrived during the dot-com failure, it eventually drove out its brick-and-mortar competition.
Digital Innovation: where we are now
We see the same kind of thing happening today on social networks. Facebook, which quickly swept much of the known world — gaining nearly 1 Billion users — was introduced to the market just a few short months ago. Despite significant buzz in the financial markets, Facebook lost a lot of its luster since then and even the major private stockholders who bought Facebook before it went public are dumping much of that stock.
Several problems underpin Facebook’s problem and are inherent in digital innovations. First, the technology that enables these digital innovations creates an environment where other businesses can create competing products. So, just as many dot-coms failed because too many businesses were chasing the few dollars being spent online, social networks are all chasing the same users with too few differences that create REAL value for consumers.
Social networks are also TOO open. Where once you had friends sharing interesting posts, you now have businesses who know little about sharing in social media drowning out the voices of your friends. Recently, Twitter has almost become useless unless you seriously restrict your network, with the message to noise ratio creating negative user experiences. Many users quit Facebook with the same frustration.
And, like the dot-com digital innovation, most social networks struggle to find a means to monetize their platforms and the use of paid promotions only decreases the user experience further.
Just like Amazon before it, Google appears to have developed the magic elixir of success. Today, nearly 70% of worldwide search occurs on Google.
Google’s success comes because they never lost sight of creating user value, Google’s efforts to monetize their platform are successful without declining user experience. Google’s success comes through giving away significant value to users — free searches for consumers and free tools for businesses.
What this means for you
Digital innovations occur at an increasingly fast pace. Your business models must look to the future of these digital innovations rather than past digital platforms.
You also have to learn from the mistakes of those who came before. Creating customer value creates long-term success.
And, we can help. Hausman and Associates is a full service firm operating at the intersection of marketing and social media. We have over 25 years of experience guiding firms through the innovation process and optimizing their strategies for changing times. Let us provide a proposal to make your marketing SIZZLE.
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