As New Media begins to make serious headway in mainstream business, it is becoming clear that not all implementations are a good idea. Many small businesses have been hanging back to let the “big boys” pioneer the new stuff much like they did when the web was still a newborn. The World Wide Web as a whole has been a grand experiment with some mixed results. By in large, it is rare to find a successful business without some kind of web presence. New media is bringing a whole new set of tools to the table.
What do you mean by New Media?
New Media encompasses a collection of tools based on traditional media like video and audio, that are presented in interesting, interactive formats through social networking tools and environments. Wow! That sounds like a lot of double talk even to me. Here is a simpler breakdown; A typical audio or video program that is distributed through a blog or social site by one-time visits or by subscription. I suppose that is a little clearer. That is a part of the confusion though, many people have varying ideas as to what social networking and New Media are, let alone how to use them.
By now, most daily web users are familiar with Social Networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Spaces, Blogger, and tons of others. There are also micro-bloging sites like Twitter and others. Include user media sites like YouTube, Flickr, PhotoBucket and a host of others along this line. Now add in podcasting sites to host or analyze your traffic and you have quite a confusing collection.
Lots of businesses hear repeatedly “you need a website” or worse yet “you need to be on ‘xyz’ website”. While there are very few businesses and organizations I would say don’t need some kind of presence online, most don’t take the time to look at what they do need. A business needs to know who its customer base is and what the extent of there internet activities are, what sites do they use, and how. Do your customers blog? That is an important question.
Most businesses would benefit from simple Social Networking sites like Facebook for better indexing in search engines and provide point of contact information. The micro blogging can be beneficial as well. But do you need a blog? Should you podcast? Maybe. A simple blog under your own domain name could replace a basic website and provide you with an online venue for future expansions.
Each business has its own needs and eccentricities, some businesses and organizations could greatly benefit from a Wiki based site, or a Wiki in addition to the regular site. Any companies website plans should be determined by company needs, client base needs, vendor needs, and the internet culture of all three.
One thing that comes up in consultations all the time is the desire for custom applications. Often there are off the shelf solutions that can be applied at a much lower cost, or free. Usually adaptive solutions do require more effort to implement initially, but in the long run, that time is well spent when the time comes to make more changes. When an off the shelf solution requires a lot of adaptations or incorporates a lot of unneeded features or complex interfaces, a custom application may actually be cheaper. Another consideration is, if you want to use a specific application but it is expensive and you just can’t do it now, there might be a simpler low/no cost solution that the expensive application can import at a later date when you can afford it.
How does this apply to New Media? Integration. When you are building an online presence it should be consistent in appearance and function. There are times when the over all functionality of the web presence determines the applications used for the presentation.
In the long run, a consultant who is familiar with a broad range of internet applications, e-commerce, New Media, and Social Networking, you will most likely save you thousands on the first implementation and much more over time by tactically planning future upgrades. These savings are after the consultants fees by the way.