30 years ago if you were not advertising in the yellow pages you were being left behind.
20 years ago if you were not in the yellow pages you were not getting calls anywhere.
Now if you advertise in the yellow pages the biggest problem is finding a copy of the thing to see your ad.
I think websites are going a similar way as they used to be a brochure of your products when business related the way Google rates them means you have to have new content on there all the time or your ratings fall. It plays nicely into the hands of big business as constant updates costs lots to maintain and it gets to where you either need to pay a company lost of money to maintain or hire a SEO savant to keep up there.
I think people are becoming more demanding of feedback, it started with cell phones when you no longer had to call a place but a person. That made people always accessible and customers learnt that they could start demanding you are available to them any-time. The best/worst example is people answering their phones in a movie theatre, and then feeling that its ok to have the conversation telling the person what they are watching and how irate the person two isles over is getting.
This need to instant attention peaked on a personal level with Facebook and I don’t for one second say it’s a bad thing as such but people need to moderate and there is a time for everything I don’t think Facebook is the best tool for business I feel it should be what it was meant to be a social tool. However business is not about what you want to sell or how you want to sell it but rather about what people want and how they want to buy it, so if people hang out on Facebook it’s a way to sell them your product.
It seems however that Facebook is also getting to the level where it’s too much trouble for people to use and they need something more instant and that’s twitter. What I like about twitter is that you choose what information you want to receive and from who, It’s totally permission based and if you don’t like what someone is saying you don’t have to. Likewise if you have something to say or ask you can ask all your friends and followers at once.
But more importantly and this is what affects most businesses is that if you have a bad experience you are going to let everyone know in one go. This means in an instant anywhere from 20 – 200000 people can see how someone they associate with feels about your product. The flip side is that it’s also the first tool that successfully passes positive comments to as many people and as twitter is a very emotional tool it means an overwhelmingly good experience makes you want to talk about it as well.
The thing is you need to stay up-to-date and in touch with the ways that people prefer to communicate. Some companies have tried to take a proactive approach to tools such as twitter and monitor for their names being mentioned and responding to complaints and compliments. I’ve tested this with #Vodacom111 that initially started by responding and then they seem to have lost interest, and now they don’t seem to respond at all, but and this is a big one. If they choose not to respond it does not mean what you say about them is not being heard, It simply means they don’t care. The only thing worse than not responding in the first place is responding and then ceasing to respond to someone that would be worse as it says we do care and know what you are saying we just don’t care enough about you.
So yes the way we communicate online is changing all the time and while there are new products all the time sometimes they just get renamed to pick up sales as Microsoft have done with Exchange, their mail server that is the be all and end all of communication in their mind. It’s no longer sold as what it is, a mail server but rather as a cloud service. This means they are saying it’s a virtual service and always available on the internet, pretty much the same as it always has been.
So does that mean Google will eventually go the way of the Yellow Pages? Who knows it currently does what the yellow pages did but much better it’s the place everyone on the internet goes to find anything. At some point someone will find another way to find what people are looking for and then it depends on if they are quick enough to catch on. The problem is that as companies grow it becomes harder for them to change how they do things and that’s what gives smaller industries the edge. It took us 1 day to test and implement a new type of firewall. If I look at a slightly larger company we supply with hardware to build their firewalls with about 1000 employees it now takes them 6 months to roll out a new firewall solution. What does that do to Google well who knows they are launching a Facebook competitor and once it goes live we will see how it goes.
Either way I just noticed my neighbour is cutting down a tree with a very large hand saw and its undoubtedly going to be something worth watching