The Blue Dog Scientific Blog: The Future of Business Online is Not Social Media.

The Future of Business Online is Not Social Media.

How Social Media is failing business online.
The business website was where we once curated and exploited our own content, where we had complete control over our own branding and PR and where our voice was the only voice speaking to our customer base.

 When social media first came into the picture, we used it simply as outreach for our websites: to drive customers to our business by driving them back to our own site.

Somewhere along the way, it appears to me we made a wrong turn. Slowly, but steadily, the emphasis changed from the website based business model to a Social Media focussed one. Now we seem to be giving social pages just as much or more emphasis than those of our own website. We now concentrate our time and effort on developing social media accounts.  e.g. on things like LinkedIn profiles and Facebook posts, rather than creating for our own site. We no longer focus on our core business of driving up revenue, but on driving up social metrics.

This change in emphasis was, I now believe, a mistake. Let me explain why. The moment we did this, we effectively put our businesses into the hands of others. We started to operate in online spaces where we have little control, which has someone else's branding all over it and where our PR management is constrained by terms of service which are not in our benefit.  We lost control over our own destinies. We are now engaged in "selling by yelling" because all our competitors have set our their stalls right next to our own. We now have to give away more and more high value know-how just to be heard and found. We even pay others to train, support or manage our social presence simply because we don't fully understand the mysteries of these ever changing platforms for ourselves. In short, we put ourselves at the mercy, made ourselves the hostages to fortune, of others and we did it so willingly.

It is now becoming more and more apparent that the social-centric model for online business is not working well overall. A very significant number of us are suffering due to being affected by externally imposed changes and decisions being made which are completely beyond our control. We're in a situation where the rebranding attempts and the PR failings of others are putting us at risk. Where the failures of others to monetize our content for themselves is putting our own businesses in jeopardy.

I am now convinced that the solution simply involves returning to the business website focussed model or more properly an ownership focussed one. But the key, the new idea, is in taking the valuable elements of social media back with us - namely customer engagement and the ability to create and grow our own communities made up from our customer bases. Social media is not abandoned in this model, but returns to simply being a shortcut outreach mechanism. Where being social means going out to find those people who are our potential customers, but bringing them back to our own spaces, where we can maintain the engagement without distraction and in a controlled environment. Controlled by us. Where, if anyone is going to monetize our self-owned content, then it jolly well will be us. for ourselves.

In this Customer Community Website centred model of business online, the future is not social. Its ours.

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