Think Young For A Solid Long-term Business Plan
Internet promotion has undergone quite a few changes over the last five years, with many more on their way in the coming years. One good way to develop your long-term online business plan is to keep an eye on the trends among young people today. When you think about it, the high school students of today will be your target market in 5-10 years. As their search habits change, so will the market share held by the search engines. This will require internet marketers to come up with new methods of site promotion in order to keep up with the changing market.
These tech-savvy youths approach the Internet differently because they have grown up using it as a common household appliance, just like the television or the phone. They spend time socializing online through chat rooms, IMs, message boards, and Myspace and are likely to have developed attachments to their online communities. A teen will often pose his or her question to their particular peer group instead of looking through generic results on the search engines. Forums are especially useful for obtaining very detailed and up to date answers to a specific problem.
Similarly, Wikipedia-type sites are becoming trusted resources among young people. The definition of a wikipedia (from Wikipedia.org, of course) is "is an international Web-based free-content encyclopedia. It exists as a wiki, a website that allows visitors to edit its content". The public editing process gives the wikis a communal feel that both appeals to young people and also serves to improve the quality of information provided.
Just as my generation laughed at our parents' inability to program a VCR, this new generation is befuddling many of us with its rapidly developing and changing terminology. For example, only a couple of years ago, only tech geeks and lonely high schoolers were likely to have a blog. Now, even former Dodgers manager Tommy
LaSorda is peddling his baseball blog in radio ads. Now there's a sure sign that blogging has become part of the mainstream culture.
It's not enough anymore just to have a blog on your site. You also need to understand how to use tags and social bookmarking sites on that blog or you will miss out on a huge amount of visitors. The most active bloggers are found hanging around at sites like Furl, Reddit, del.icio.us, and Backflip, not Google, Yahoo, and MSN.
These social bookmarking sites are by far the greatest threat to the search engines' market share. The basic concept behind social bookmarking is that real people vote for webpages they have actually seen and like enough to recommend, instead of a search engine ranking pages based on its own secret algorithm. Anyone can register an account on these sites and share "bookmarks" to their favorite sites. Most of these sites allow the submitter to also include several keyword tags and a short description.
Another rising challenge to the search engines is the mobile web. Cell phones have become the Swiss Army knife of technology. It is now possible to make phone calls, shoot video clips, watch television, surf the Web, IM, and play MP3s, all on one convenient device that fits in your pocket.
It is still too early to tell what effect these newer, more versatile phones will have on computer sales and search engine numbers. Many phone providers come with a mobile version of Google, Yahoo! or MSN, so there will be some overlap there.
As these developing technologies become more common, the market share held by search engines will decrease significantly. A solid long-term plan is crucial for webmasters who wish to sustain their business as market conditions shift.
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