Posts Tagged 'digital media'

Should Everything be Free Online?

Chances are, you have given away more than you have charged for…

For a lot of people, what they expect and get from their digital experiences isn’t even close to being reality. Want a few easy examples? OK.

  • One of the most prevalent business models in the online world is to build a product or service and then give it away for free.
  • Another prevalent business model in the online world is to build a product or service, give it away for free while trying to make money on people buying “other” things while in your store.
  • Consumers look for alternatives when they realize that they have to pay to access content online.

Could you imagine someone setting up shop in your neighborhood and giving away a product or service in their store for free forever?

Somewhere along the way, someone got the notion that “value” should be given away for free.

I’m not sure how or why it began like this, actually I have an idea, but the truth is, social media has not helped temper the consumer expectation that the majority of all things on the web should be free.  It’s actually been gasoline on an open flame. Does Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Tumblr, WordPress, Posterous, Typepad, Flickr and Evernote amongst others, charge to use their platforms at an entry level? No.

Look, I like free just as much as the next person but so much is being given away online that it’s diluting the need for and the value of products and services that consumers actually need and should have to pay for. Thus, consumers have been trained or conditioned to think that they can find an equivalent for free.

Which sadly, is usually the case.

This in turn means that web entities are constantly fighting an uphill battle for proving their legitimacy, their meaning and their value.  But where we as marketers, as media and as consumers come up short, is that we have professed so much about how open the web is and how anything is possible and how you can find anything, anywhere…to an extent that we keep wounding the golden goose and we keep bending and altering our digital expectations.

There’s a simple solution.

We have to level set expectations up front.

Not too long ago there was a book out titled Bounce by Matthew Syed, in it, the author contends that most of us are amazed at and marvel at athletic achievement at the elite level, but what we don’t know or see, is how hard great athletes at that level, work at their craft to become, ”great.” We just think it’s their natural ability coming through and that’s what propelled them to the top.

The same holds true for a lot of people and companies in tech. We want to solve problems, we want to make life easier, we want to show how beautiful and easy something might be to create, or we want to share information that can make our lives easier. But what do we do?  A very poor job of intimating how hard it might take, how long it might have taken, and the money and resources required to just get in a position to be successful online.

And then, at the end of the day we punt, and are conditioned to think that the clearest path to success is to give it away for free. We’ll set up a pricing model later… Look, digital is not free, somewhere somebody is getting paid because of your current web experience.

We need to level set expectations up front not after the fact.  Value what you do.

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Eventually we’ll all be good at social media and then what?

I was talking to a really smart person yesterday, way smarter than me, and I told her in no uncertain terms that eventually, this whole social media thing will eventually flatten out. Pretty soon,  a lot of us, if not all of us, will have a pretty solid grasp of what social media is, and and how we are supposed to use it. So instead of just a few of us knowing what’s going on along with the requisite snake oil guys, they’ll be a whole slew of us running around who actually might know what they’re doing. It’s inevitable. For some of you snake oil dudes-the clock is ticking

Just like the early days of the internet and AOL, of email and using Hotmail and Outlook for some good ole’ email blasts, of SEO, of pay per click, of content marketing and so on and so forth. In each case there was always that big learning curve and once everyone overcame that, then all of a sudden you had people and companies left and right who decided to wrap whole business solutions around disciplines such as internet marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing and content marketing.

What happens is, as more and more people learn social media, they then turn right around and flip that new found knowledge into a business that is either directly or indirectly related to it. That’s technology.

So then what happens is that some people are no longer deemed a  social media specialist as much as they become a generalist. Face it, we all to a certain degree become generalists. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. It means that surface level discussions now have the potential to take deeper dives because we all have a general understanding.

Right now, we’re still stuck in a semi-education mode with social.

My point though is that the days of the lone ranger, of the actual social media knight in shining armor riding in to save the day, will start to wane. Eventually when a mar-comm person or an IT person, or a PR person is hired, the skillsets will include a healthy understanding of how to use social networks, how to build communities, how to engage users in social nets, how to drive engagement in social nets and how to measure social engagements. Those will be “must have’s” and not “would be nice” reqs-and that won’t be asking a  lot either.

The day is coming. We’re not there yet but eventually finding a director of social media won’t be too difficult and having director of social media in your title will be the same as being a director or email marketing or SEO, they’ll be everywhere; which will still be cool, but as I said, eventually, you’ll see that everyone will have experience “with” social media on their resume right alongside all the other must have skill sets . We’re close but not yet. But when we are there, then the real fun will begin.

Death of The Library and rise of the Kindle.

Unless libraries can tailor everything that they do and stand for towards the digital universe, their days as a wellspring of knowledge and information are numbered. After reading an article titled, “The Impatience of the Google Generation” in wich the author and the responses essentially come to the conclusion that the current generation and younger generations for that matter, are essentially impatient when it comes to how quickly they can find and receive information, I can only assume that the last place that they would want to go is a place where their information was in a hard bound book!

OK, so yes libraries have computers that are tied not only to their volumes of hardbound books but also to search as it relates to the internet. But riddle me this: Why would I go to a library and search for a book when I could log onto a computer and find the same information? Says the 18-24 old student. I know it’s deeper than that, but lets put ourselves in the place of someone in college or younger. A) every college student, or a good portion of them now have their own laptop. So now they “walk” around with access to any and all information/research that they will ever need.  Bogus wikis notwithstanding. and B) They are so accustomed to getting information readily, that going to a library defeats the purpose of  library research per se.

 Of course, they can still go to the “quiet” library to get work done. And there are still certain things that a library provides or possesses that a student still might need or utilize, but…the thinking is,”It’s all here on the internet”!

Generation “C” (content) has no use for a library. In fact I would venture to guess that funding on local, state and federal levels for libraries is constantly slashed in favor of more digital type programs or programs that lawmakers feel have more importance.

Having said that, here is one more thing for you to chew on.  The Amazon  Kindle is an electronic book device launched in the US by Amazon.com  this past November.  It uses an electronic paper display, reads the proprietary Kindle (AZW) format, and downloads content over Amazon Whispernet, which uses the Sprint EVDO network. This means that the Kindle can be used without the need for a computer. Whispernet is accessible through Kindle without any fee. On the release day, the Kindle Store had more than 88,000 digital titles available for download. Amazon’s first offering of the Kindle sold out in five and a half hours. It retails for $399.

Think about it. People still want to read but they want it condensed and more than just portable. So does this mean that the Dust jacket will go the way of the Jewel Case and album art? If the latest advances in media, music and entertainment are any indication, it appears that that will be the case.


The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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