From Dial-up and Newsgroups to Cable and Web 2.0 – The Changing Face of Doing Business Online

Songdove Books - network computerFirst we had news groups.  Then we had bulletin boards.  The days of dial-up only allowed for those two methods of what would be considered early forms of social media.  Those were the days of ICQ (wanna bet my number is smaller than yours???), AOL, and Comcast, with Netscape Navigator ruling the roost.  Netscape Composer would be the first truly WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) webpage creator, but still clunky enough that this author stuck to learning the actual code itself.  To get online in those days, you needed to sign in with a username and password, and it was strongly encouraged that your username NOT be your real name!  After some pondering in 1994, Songdove was born.  Variations due to lost accounts became Songdovem and Songdoved, both of which are also still active alongside the original online handle.

voice-recognitionDial-up gave way to cable and DSL connections, and bulletin boards became message boards that could be administered and organized in a much more user-friendly manner. . . and online social interaction increased.  Some of my longest-running online friends came from these boards and we’re friends to this day, although we’ve never met in person.  These friends now know who Songdove is finally, thanks to social media growing up into the Web 2.0 that it is today.  To remember my early roots online, I chose Songdove Books as my publishing imprint because “song” represents my passion for singing, and “dove” is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  One could read my publishing imprint then as Singing Spirit Books.  This of course, lines up with several Scriptures where God sings over us.

dollarsignAs I have watched the Internet grow from its early WWW roots, and as I’ve watched WEB 2.0 change and morph, I’ve gone into business for myself.  I launched out on my own as a computer repair tech in February 2001 and officially launched FACT Computer Services Co. as its own registered business name in July 2001, just months before that fateful day on September 11th, 2001.  One of the first things I did was to build a website for my business.  Many other businesses were now online by this time, with some discovering they could do business around the world and begin to interact with their customers via message boards and email.  Newsletters were born and successful businesses began to teach courses on how to get traffic, convert them into customers, and keep those customers, all through online means.

Songdove Books - harddrive cdromSongdove Books - harddrive floppyThis drive to take business online began to extend to software manufacturers and hardware companies delivering drivers for their devices.  By 2010, the CD-ROM drive was considered by some to be going the way of the floppy drive as both the USB stick and ease of downloadable media began to take over.

Songdove Books - harddrive networkAt the same time, two major websites would discover how to take social media to the next level.  Myspace would come about in the early 2000’s, with Facebook coming a few years later.  Trial and error have resulted in Myspace becoming relegated to the music industry and Facebook being the behemoth of the family/friends/co-workers/classmate landscape.  LinkedIn was formed for professionals who wanted somewhere to go online, but who didn’t want to hang out with college kids or music junkies.  Twitter arrived on the scene as a “micro-blogging” social network, and the concept of web logs, shortened to simply blogs, were created.

Songdove Books - disks-and-clockThese days, if you are in business in any fashion, in ministry in any fashion, an author of any sort, or a creative of any sort, not having an Internet presence will actually do you more harm than good.  Businesses continue to find resourceful ways of tapping into the new social media landscape and are doing so in what some would consider novel and others would consider invasive ways.

Recently, for example, came out with their hashtag – #amazoncart, for use on Twitter.  If someone has linked to a product on Amazon that you like, you can respond to their tweet by typing in #amazoncart and Amazon will put that product into your shopping cart.  When you visit next, your shopping cart will show that an item is present, allowing you to complete the purchase.  This has changed how I as an author promote my books on Amazon via Twitter.  Now, once a day, you’ll see an Amazon link to one of my books, posted to Twitter.  If you want to buy that book, all you have to do while on Twitter is simply respond to the tweeted link, with #amazoncart in your reply, and the next time you visit Amazon, my book will be waiting for you in your shopping cart.  The goal here is to allow people to shop on Amazon without leaving the Twitter social media website.  Your social media experience is not interrupted just because you saw a product you wanted to buy.  In the past, you had to leave Twitter to visit Amazon, now you don’t have to.

graphInterestingly enough, Facebook is now testing out a buy button on their website.  If successful, this button would be added to sponsored ads that businesses buy from within the admin area of their fan pages.  Right now, businesses, personalities, creatives, and organizations have begun shying away from buying Facebook ads, because they are generally geared toward “likes” which are easily scammed.  Bots have been written that can use up a business’s paid daily allotment without any real eyeballs having seen the ad.  Online job sites offer to pay people to sit at their computer and click “like” buttons for them in attempts to drive out the competition.  In this regard, Facebook may be noticing a drop in ad revenue and wanting to give it a relevant boost again by potentially adding these buy buttons.  If the test is successful, this will be a renewed reason to invest in Facebook ads, because those ads will be less about getting “likes” and more about driving sales directly to the business, creative or organization offering a product or service.

Even Pinterest is experimenting with pin code that lets businesses draw in potential customers in an easier fashion.  Such pins are sponsored, just like ads on Facebook, but with the growing popularity of this site, it is a potentially lucrative way for businesses to do business with their valued clients.

The online e-commerce landscape is changing for sure!  The trick is not being left behind.

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