Many of the businesses and entrepreneurs I know still don’t realize that they need to use and understand the Internet, even if their interest is not e-commerce.
BY MARTY ZWILLING
Maybe you have also heard a lot of Internet terms, but are not sure you can explain how, when, and why they are relevant to your business success. Here is a quick test of your real Internet savvy.
See how many of the following “new” Internet concepts you recognize, and can explain in terms of value to your business. If you have heard the lingo, but most of these are not in your startup business plan, you are already in jeopardy as an entrepreneur:
- Blogging. A blog is basically a journal (“web log”) that is published on the web. Business blogs are an extension of your website and can effectively communicate the value of your business. You are now reading one of about 50 million out there already. Blogs composed of video clips are called “vlogs.”
- Social media marketing. Today there are huge communities online, like Facebook and Twitter, which grew in popularity for socializing with friends. For businesses, these are now prime sources of business networking, customer service, and client leads. Facebook alone has 800 million active members. Do you have a business presence there?
- Search engine marketing (SEM). This popular form of Internet marketing seeks to increase website ranking in search engine results. Techniques include search engine optimization (SEO) and paid result placement. No SEM plan means you are missing a huge marketing opportunity.
- Viral marketing. This is a marketing program on the Internet that you make so popular it spreads like a virus, like "word of mouth." Examples include give-aways, contests, and celebrity stunts that grab attention. Viral marketing costs real money, but is often worth it.
- Streaming video. Watching video has now surpassed text searching, with popular sites like YouTube, so you see more video ads – in banners, news lead-ins, and site placements. Most videos are now in-stream (no download first), and new ones can be interactive, with clickable hot spots.
- Internet radio. Sometimes called blogtalk radio, this is essentially the same as regularly broadcast radio, except it is streamed (realtime) on the Internet from websites such as AccuRadio, which alone reaches nearly a million listeners per month. People simply log on and listen. Use them to deliver a business message.
- Podcasting. This is a variation on Internet radio, named from iPods and broadcasting. A pod-caster creates music and/or business material and makes it available for Internet download to iPods or other devices, where users may then listen at their convenience.
- Pay per click (PPC). This is how you make money from advertising – someone else runs ads on your site or your blog, and you get paid for everyone who clicks on the ad. Rates per click are very low, so don’t try to live on ad revenues until visit rates are very high.
- Crowdsourcing. This is a term indicating the use of “crowd wisdom” to get a task done free by interested people on the Internet. Wikipedia started this, but it is also used for technical support, software, and product reviews. You can use it for your business.
- Wiki. This is an Internet website that allows the easy creation and editing of interlinked web pages via a web browser text editor. Wikis are used to create collaborative websites on a given subject, maintain corporate intranets, and build simple data bases.
Just for fun, I’ve come up with a scoring system based on my own non-scientific survey to help you rate yourself on your level of Internet business acumen. How many of the terms defined above have you personally used or explained in the context of your business?
- 8 to 10 – Excellent business savvy (or a Gen-Y)
- 5 to 7 – Average, keeping up with the crowd
- 2 to 4 – Beginner, struggling to catch up
- 0 or 1 – Wake up, the business world has moved on
The Internet is here – there is no going back. It’s probably the biggest source of change and innovation in business today. As entrepreneurs and business people, it behooves us all find and adopt changes which can improve our startup. These days, a static business is a dying business. How dynamic is yours?