Throw out the Box
When one is encouraged to be creative, a common saying is used : “Think outside of the box”. That day has passed in my humble opinion and it’s my suggestion that we throw the box away completely and start from scratch. The box itself has its limitations and has made us think traditionally when the most successful business ideas online have done the opposite.
When considering starting a business online we often draw comparisons with bricks and mortar businesses. For example ecommerce websites are online versions of your high street shop and e-books are online versions of, well – books! You have online doctors, teachers, accountants, newspapers and the list goes on.
The Facebook Shop?
But there aren’t offline versions of Twitter, YouTube, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or even eBay and these are amongst the most successful online business models in history. So what does this mean? Are we thinking in old, traditional ways to come up with online business ideas in the face of obvious change and innovation? Are we in tune with what society wants?
Professions have an obvious customer and serve obvious needs : solicitors, accountants, doctors, teachers, mechanics, salesmen, engineers, builders etc. These guys solve very clear problems and thus have very defined customers. Their consumers ask for their services because there is a need which that consumer needs filled. However, we didn’t ask for any of the aforementioned websites but they’ve become the best thing since sliced bread – literally! This isn’t really in dispute for most of us, but the questions is, how to do you consider new ideas, or add value to current ideas whilst adopting this obvious trend.
The Social Caveman
There are a few keywords to think about in this regard : connection, community, social and network. Since the dawn of time we have come together around the fire, cave, hut, temple, watering hole and in recent history community centre, club, association, lodge or knitting circle. These have all been cantered around common interests, be that family, friends, sporting interest or profession. So really, nothing’s changed except the dynamics of our society. We have more to do in less time.
Technology is pretty much to blame for this, turning us into a super efficient species that through mobile technology and the internet can do a hell of a lot on the move, business or pleasure. However, our need to be connected is still at the fore and platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow us to keep that connection with a raft of people across many different social circles (school, family, work etc) at the click of a button. But – we crave more and more, we’re spoiled and we’ve been given a new appetite for connectedness!
5 Ways to Stay Ahead
So here are 5 ways that you can take advantage of society’s trend to stay connected
- Video blog – No, blogging isn’t dead even though it looked like it at one point. Video is a great way to go; it gives people a window into your world and helps them connect with you visually. The content you create can be syndicated across social networks, your website – in fact, anywhere! This is an easy way to help you to be seen as an expert in your industry so get vocal and let your opinion be heard!
- Get social – Add a community to your website or start a new one. Do you have an audience who would like to huddle around a more niche, targeted or private environment than Facebook? Ask your web developer, there are loads of cost effective options nowadays to get you up and running like Social Go, JomSocial, Ning or Kick Apps
- Feed your website – If you’re active on the social networks already using tools like Widget Box allow you to put your Facebook or Twitter updates onto your website and watch them update automatically
- Connect ‘Em – Think about ways that you connect people around common interests. Once you’ve got them together, keep them interested and inform them. Having a captive audience is an easy thing to monetise through advertising, offers and discounts or subscriptions.
- Listen – If you’ve noticed, all the big websites change all the time. This is as a result of them listening and monitoring what their audience is doing and changing accordingly. This is essential for your survival today. The only constant is change and if you don’t your competition will and you’ll be left behind.