About a decade and a half ago, computers were still built with CRTs, majority of the population didn’t have e-mail and advertising was restricted to tv commercials, newspaper ads and flyers. Today, conversations are instantaneous with chat apps and virtually everyone has a voice in one form or the other on the internet. Separations of time and space are no longer restrictions to reaching an audience or communicating with someone. Since the advent of the internet and the technologies that have been built on it, alongside internet trends of the past decade or so, barriers between producers and consumers have all but faded away and marketing, customer services and distribution of content have literally become a 24/7 affair.
While the basics of business and entrepreneurship have remained the same, the tools for creating, sharing, marketing and contributing have evolved and are still changing.
With the internet trends accessible to virtually everyone today, it’s possible – believe it or not – to become an entrepreneur purely by accident. Examples abound where people turned their passion or knowledge in a particular niche to quality content, built an audience for themselves and make a good living from the proceeds of the brand they’ve built and leveraged. This period of internet trends is one of the greatest culture shifts in living history – arguably more of a paradigm than even the industrial revolution. The internet and its technologies are making more millionaires than business structures can keep up with and the opportunity to harness this new technology for your own benefit is as easy and accessible as ever.
Here are a few of the internet trends of our time that have affected entrepreneurs the most.
- Social media marketing:
If you’re a millennial, you probably know that marketing in the era of your parents mostly involved the methods I previously mentioned – commercials on tv and radio, newspaper ads and handing out flyers. Nowadays, with internet trends we have currently, marketing has evolved and now involves different and far more powerful means: use of social media. Now, in addition to traditional methods like commercials and billboards, marketing products and services can literally go around the world with social media. Facebook, twitter, instagram and linkedin among several other social media networks are critical components of every marketing campaign and it’s almost unthinkable to consider running a product advert without them. If you can create a trend on social media, it can be used to market virtually anything and is almost always guaranteed to get you in front of your target demographic.
- Search engines:
In the earlier days, several companies attempted to provide an easy-to-use engine to index the rapidly-growing web. Search engines like Lycos, InfoSeek and AltaVista were popular around the turn of the 21st century – but then Google came into the scene and the rest couldn’t keep up. The benefits of a user-friendly search engine included businesses and brands understanding how to get themselves in front of their target audience – and anyone else who happened to stumble upon them. This led to the birth of internet trends like SEO – search engine optimization – the art of creating a website with its visibility to search engines in mind. This involves use of backlinks, keywords and use of online networks with other businesses among other methods. Today, thanks to streamlined internet search engines, an estimated 96 percent of marketers are using SEO to reach potential clients.
Businesses – both small and large alike can be more flexible with their hiring methods. Internet trends like video conferencing provided by a platform like Microsoft’s Skype make daily meetings among people on opposite sides of the world possible, file-sharing software like dropbox and google docs provide work environments where teams can collaborate and track the progress of their projects from anywhere at anytime. Referral services have also taken advantage of the internet to forever change the way people search for jobs, schedule interviews and eventually get hired.
The ubiquitousness of a smartphone made it an industry standard as far as websites were concerned. As more and more people started using smartphones, the rules for reaching marketing prospects were changed for good. Original websites were rendered poorly on the smaller screens of phones and it was soon discovered that viewers of websites left – most times for good – if a website had poor interaction capabilities and an unfriendly interface. So the internet trend of mobile-friendly sites came to be. The implication for entrepreneurs was that more care had to be taken when building a website or brand for consumption on the internet. Sites now had to be built to be responsive – that means changing the way a site is rendered to fit the size of the screen it’s being displayed on.
Networking is the backbone of any successful venture – every entrepreneur knows this. You need to know important people, period. You must be in contact with the right people and make enough of an impact to have them answer you and provide valuable references when the need eventually arises. Internet trends like social media networks have made networking so much easier – from the comfort of your home, you can be in contact with someone in another part of the world who has the ears of the people you need something from.
Technology has changed rapidly over the past couple of decades and the growth pattern shows no signs of slowing. For entrepreneurs, keeping up with new internet trends is not an option if they are to avoid becoming extinct in a rapidly-changing world.