Another Online Solution? Save It, I’m All Done Filled-Up!
Those were the exact words spoken by me yesterday at 2:00 PM while in the midst of a flu. Was it because I had the flu? No. Did my words upset the person I said them to? Probably.
My response of, “Another online solution? Save it, I’m all done filled-up” was my southern gentlemen’s way of saying “stop recommending online crap to me that promises meeting more people and networking”. I almost feel these online profile and social networks are popping up like multi-level marketing companies do every five years or so, and everyone including your mother is telling you, “you need to get in now and be at the top!”
I may have touched on this in previous articles, and maybe I’ve become the wrong person to review “new online portals”, especially those claiming to be “part-social network”. Why? I think it’s because I’ve lived the growth of the Internet. Over the past seventeen years I’ve watched Internet start-up’s come, and also watched them go. Have I become jaded? Yes. But, haven’t we all? Better yet, “shouldn’t” we all?
I get a little burnt out at time, watching these new networks pop-up. It’s not that they don;t bring something new, or sometimes bring value. No, it’s because there are so dang many of them. I’ve reached a point in life where I have to start aggregating and using only the online platforms and networks that really work, really, do something in return, or I need to let them go. We could all stand to clean out the closet every now and then, and like a good chef, the best way is to “clean as you go”.
Way back in 1996 I owned a travel agency. Being the tech-savvy nut I’ve always been, I decided to install an email server in our office. A pretty forward step for a tiny travel agency in the midst of Hendersonville, Tennessee. But I had good reason for doing so – A corporate client we had at the time had just told us they were going to do the same. The client was Gibson Guitar in Nashville, Tennessee. In some ways, I owe Gibson Guitar some thanks for launching what turned into a career in online application development that has lasted over fifteen years now.
In a matter of weeks after installing the email server, our lives changed at that little travel agency. Almost overnight, we had become the most technically advanced travel agency in the Nashville region. Our clients loved our ability to communicate via email so much, they often recommend us to other companies. The little travel agency grew from selling $1 million in sales annually to over $3 million, and was then bought by American Express Travel in Nashville. It was during that growth period that things really changed for businesses who began using email to communicate – many of them grew. Why? Because email communication offered a new, more-convenient way of communicating, and being able to do so was quite a niche in 1996.
Some of you may be too young to remember this, but at some time in 1996 there used to be a cable channel that had a one-hour segment each evening about the Internet. (Can you imagine?) A one-hour show that gave you all the updates for the day, and funny as that sounds, there was a lot happening on a daily basis during that period. A good example that later followed was watching the Priceline IPO. Seeing their “valuation” go from $8 million into the billions overnight was exciting. It seemed that if you built anything that did something faster or better than a brick and mortar business, you because an Internet star overnight.
Well, that was along time ago, and since that time there have been thousands of start-up’s come and go. Now, people are not so quick to signup, login, or even visit an online business unless it’s life-changing. I think I’m probably at the extreme end of the spectrum, in that I won;t even consider looking at something until I see LOTS of other people using it, and seeing a clear and concise benefit of using it.
I was first introduced to Populr.me in November 2012, and despite understanding what it does, I was still a little slow in deciding to use it. The reason is simple – “How many online things do we really need in our lives?”
Gone are the days of simply duplicating a brick and mortar business and making a killing on the Internet. You now have to offer things that cannot be found at a brick and mortar business, and you have to do it cheaply, or in some cases, free, to get any amount of traffic.
Since that time, millions of sites have come and gone. This is why it’s harder for me to adopt new profiles, social networks and online tools. I’ve seen enough to know that there’s not always room for another in a particular space. And, if the newbie fails to do something unique, or at least clobber the existing competition, it’s probably not worth singing up for. Seeing Posterous Spaces closing their doors was a little bit of a surprise. This was a well-funded company with all the tech tools and programming capabilities needed to be successful. Yet, even they decided it wasn’t worth keeping the doors open any longer.
So, when you read my posts and see me pushing cool sites like Nashville start-up Populr.me, it’s because I’ve found it to be a tool worth keeping in my toolkit. It adds value. It’s affordable, and brings a return on investment. And, Populr.me allows me to stand out from my competition who are most likely still using email to communicate. Instead of sending email, I now consider building a page at Populr.me that handles ever aspect of my communication. (see article – “To Pop or not to Pop“) It does this flawlessly, and can be used over and over again, actually saving me time while allowing me to communicate better, and now faster than ever before.
If you see a new online tool you think deserves a review, send it my way.