[Cross-posted from Associated Industries of Massachusetts.]
All around us, things are accelerating. People, data, and information are all moving faster than ever before, accelerating at a pace that defies our understanding of the world and what is (or was thought to be) possible. 4G speeds, Google Instant, Tweets and check-ins, Facebook sign-ups, mobile device activations, video uploads – everything around us is growing and moving at exponential rates. Consider some of the statistics: in 2008, 300 million people were on social networks. That number is now over 900 million. In 2008 1.5 million people had visited Twitter. Last year over 190 million. In 2008 Google’s Android mobile platform had just launched. There are now over 300,000 Android device activations every day, and that number is growing. (Check out a really fun video showing the growth of Android here.)
And consider what has been happening in Middle Eastern countries of late. Via mobile phones and social networks, information is spreading and people are organizing at rates never before possible, allowing for rapid mobilization of ideas and massive social change.
In this world of constant connectivity, there is no doubt that fast is better than slow. From a consumer standpoint, you reap the benefits directly – connect to friends all over the world on Facebook, video chat with them on Skype, watch videos of the Grammy’s on YouTube, download Eminem’s latest to your iPod, search on Google for the shoes he wore, buy them on online…wait, sold out online?…check your local retailer’s inventory on Google Product Search, have your Android phone give you directions to your local mall, text your friends that you’ll meet them there, check in on Foursquare when you arrive… and on and on it goes, the flow of digital information accelerating at a rate that seems almost unimaginable.
So how do businesses keep up and take part in this digital evolution, nay, revolution? How do companies make use of this acceleration to reach consumers in meaningful ways? How do they change their own behaviors to keep up with the world around them?
Companies should look to get ahead of the consumer and these digital trends by focusing on 4 key characteristics: Google calls them the "4 Be’s"…
Be relevant – Mobile is how the world will connect to the Internet in the future. Mobile will be bigger than desktop in 5 years. Mobile searches grew 500% in the last two years. Mobile is what is relevant for today's and tomorrow's consumer. What is your company’s mobile strategy? Do you have one? Can it scale for the future?
Be found – Search is still the web’s killer app. With the proliferation of information, Search is how people find it and make use of it. Can people find you? Can they find your business and the products or services you offer?
Be engaging – We no longer live in a push advertising world. Consumers want and expect a dialog with companies. Social media like Facebook and Twitter make this possible. Online video has not only changed the face of entertainment but also the way companies can communicate. Companies and brands need to figure out how to be part of the conversation and how to effectively engage users across the entire spectrum of social media. What is your social media strategy? How are you effectively using online video to engage users?
Be accountable – the Internet has made real-time marketing a reality. You can constantly and continuously improve your digital efforts by using powerful analytical tools and the data they provide to make smart decisions. Things like Google Analytics, Insights for Search and others offer more data than ever before. How are you using it to make the best decisions for your company?
Success or failure in these four areas will determine your future. As “screen time” becomes mostly digital, as mobile becomes the norm for the masses, as consumers take more control of the dialog with companies and brands, and as everything becomes more real-time, businesses will need to evolve to keep pace…or run the risk of getting left behind.
Posted by: Seth van der Swaagh, National Industry Manager, AdWords