Hype vs. Reality – Part II

The line between hype and reality has shifted recently, at least in my own little world. Here is how:

Hype: Group Buying

The group-buying world is very much in flux right now (despite the whole Groupon IPO thing that is going on) and here is what I believe will eventually happen: group buying will become a standard promotion tactic on any website that has something to sell. This means many existing group-buying sites will not be around one day, and group-buying discounts will no longer be a novelty but expected, and will be provided by the merchants themselves. Group buying as an online business model simply does not have the longevity to become a category of its own – the speed of the Internet will push the high-volume, low-margin, and low-involvement business to saturation in no time.

Therefore, the current popularity of partnering with a group-buying website should be taken with caution. Look for good partners who have stringent merchant selection criteria, high -uality database, and sound financial standing. Alternatively, if you have a large enough database yourself, why not offer your own group discounts?

Hype: Facebook

Really? Can Facebook be hype? Not for now, but it very well can be. If you think about it, our involvement with Facebook is very low. I am not talking about the time we spend on it, but in the context of our commitment to, and dependence on it. If a better alternative shows up, it doesn’t take much for us to switch as long as our friends do the same. Facebook did this to MySpace, and Apple’s recent announcement for native support for Twitter in the IOS5 means Twitter could be poised to become another Facebook with its added photo sharing functionality (Facebook is essentially Twitter + photo sharing, right?). Therefore, when planning your social media strategy, think platform neutral. By the way, google ‘Facebook growth’ and you will see its stalling in mature markets, but that’s another story.

Reality: The Cloud

The cloud has been around for quite some time; it is not just a concept that’s still being implemented. Your Gmail, Google Doc, Apple’s MobileMe, DropBox, WordPress, or even Facebook are common examples you may use yourself, not to mention the many others that cover e-commerce, CRM, project management, etc. New services catering to high bandwidth media content are coming out too, such as Sony’s new music sharing service or Apple’s new iCloud. But what implications does the cloud have for your business and its digital marketing?

Simply put, the cloud lowers the cost of storage and processing power for you. It saves you from spending a fortune to build and maintain IT systems from hosting a website to managing email to order fulfilment. It’s also far more flexible, you pay for the plan you want and simply switch plans or providers when your needs change. Therefore, the cloud directly impacts your digital marketing budget by allowing you to pay less for IT and focus your budget more on real marketing communications.

So please share thoughts. I love to hear what you have to say!

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