Sometimes I find that I get so involved in the online world and the people active in it, I lose touch with everyday people. When I try to explain why it is important that they spend money on a website and get involved with social networking online, I get frustrated that they don’t get it.
So to help, I’m going to put the pace of the internet in perspective. We take big companies like Google and Amazon for granted, but we fail to see that these companies are incredibly young compared to peers in other sectors. Google, Amazon, Facebook–they didn’t grow in the traditional way other companies did. They exploded. And those who decide to adopt too late will face a lot of competition who are more seasoned in the online space.
Think about it in historical terms:
–Google was launched as a privately held company in September of 1998. It is now a publicly traded company whose products are used all over the world. “Google” is a verb. You can use it on your desktop your laptop, and on your phone. There’s a good chance it’s your home page. Google is just over ten years old and has over 20,000 employees.
Just eleven years ago, if I told you to “Google” something, you’d probably think I was insulting you. You used the phone book. Remember those?
—Amazon.com launched in 1995. It started by selling books. Amazon now attracts 615 million viewers annually which is twice the traffic of walmart.com. It has websites in the UK, China, France, Germany, and Japan. They are now trying to take over the online book market with the Amazon Kindle.
People thought the founder Jeff Bezos was crazy. Just 15 years ago, you didn’t buy anything online, much less books. Think back on how many brick-and-mortar book stores have closed in just 15 years.
–Facebook launched at Harvard University in 2004. It was still “The Facebook” until 2005. Facebook started as a way for students to keep up with each other, but has since grown to do everything from connecting college buddies to event planning to playing Scrabble to raising $200,000 for Cambodians. Facebook now has over 200 million users in every country but Syria and Iran, where it is banned.
If I told you five years ago that I could use an interactive Rolodex to keep tabs of people all over the world for free, you’d think I was nuts.
Where did you buy music ten years ago? Best Buy? Where do you get it now? How many CD stores are now GONE in just ten years?
People think social media is a fad. Was Google a fad? How much more did early adopters make because they knew how to leverage search engines to be on the top of Google? How much more do established Amazon and eBay sellers make over those who jumped on late out of desperation? Being successful online takes money, work, or preferably both. But it’s not going away and the rates of growth are accelerating even more rapidly than they were before (see Twitter stats)
Whether you are a business owner thinking of improving (or adding) your online presence or a web professional who is selling it, it’s important that we understand the urgency of how the web affects our economy and how we can use it to beef up national GDP, employment and our way of life.