People have asked me about my viewpoints for doing business on social media platforms in general. The question starts out something like this…“Where do you think it will be in the next 10 years?” “Who will be #1 in five or ten years?” or “Should I integrate my business on one?” I believe the only honest answer is “Who knows?” People are looking for answers to something that is almost unquantifiable. We act as if these juggernauts have been around forever. I have to remind people at times to remember they didn’t even exist just 5 years ago. Based on that alone it’s hard to extrapolate where they will be just 6 months from now. But the more I look at the way they are behaving, and setting up their business practices, the more it’s beginning to look like something many of us have seen before…. “The Mall.”
If you think about it coming from this viewpoint, it’s not as far-fetched as it may seem. What a mall did was create a social environment within a shopping experience. It displaced the stand alone retailer or downtown shopper by creating a destination experience. It also created a closed loop system where the mall operator controlled everything all the way down to even extracting a percentage of your sales in the register. If you wanted to be in the mall you paid dearly for that opportunity. Your customers were no longer truly “your” customers any longer, they were in essence “The Malls.” You were just a business paying for the opportunity to have access to “The Malls” shoppers. Want to change the layout or look of your business? You’ll need approval first. Want access to the data or customers that come into the mall so you can mine it? Forgetaboutit! Are you starting to see the similarities?
So what about some of the others? If one looks like a mall what might others resemble in the future? What if we looked at Google’s® attempt into social media the way we view Walmart®. A giant dominant player with vast resources where you can find anything you need 24/7. A stand alone building (think network) that doesn’t need to be in some pricey borough so it can offer everything to everybody, and do it cheaply. The trick for you will be to get some form of shelf space, But! (and it’s a big but) Will you just be piled in with millions of others that did the same thing because it was “cheap and easy?” How will you be able to differentiate from the others? Or better yet, can you? If you’re a business looking on how you want to incorporate social media to build your business I believe viewing it from this perspective can give you some clarity. If you want to be a mall based company you wouldn’t waste your time trying to look like or sell to Walmart® would you? If you enjoy or you prefer the independence to be your own stand alone business where your customers are “your” customers rather than being at the mall or in some superstore you would also plan differently wouldn’t you?
Just like the malls certain media outlets will be overrun with teenagers, and alike. And would that help or hinder your business? Or will they be the very customers you need to attract, or the very customer you need to avoid? How about the superstore? Do you want to be just another vendor on a superstore shelf selling whatever to whoever for whatever? Do you want to be in a strip mall, plaza, or your own building? There are different outlets of social media that resemble these also. I believe if you look at social media through this lens you just might get a little more clarity on where, and how you should be developing your business while at the same time clearing out the clutter that can be overwhelming or unquantifiable.
© 2011 Mark St.Cyr All Rights Reserved