www.herald-journal.com
Business needs to keep pace with growing online population
Jan. 27, 2014
by Mark Ollig

Many consider 1993 as the year we began using the Web in earnest.

The Web was going to be a whole new way for us to obtain news, to learn, to collaborate, to retrieve and share information, to work, and to entertain ourselves.

It also opened up a whole new world of possibilities for personal interactions, and public dialogue.

Yes, we were excited about this fresh, new medium; this global World Wide Web.

Of course, the corporate business world was undoubtedly thinking of ways to make money from it.

During the 1980s and early ‘90s, much of our online computing experience consisted of using a telephone modem, and dial-up services we paid to use such as: Prodigy, CompuServe, and AOL.

These sites were, more or less, large Bulletin Board Systems (BBS’s) with a connection to the Internet.

We needed to install their proprietary client software on our computer. This software usually came on a 3.5-inch diskette, or a 5.25-inch floppy disk.

Many small, independently operated, free-to-access hobby BBS’s were out there, too.

Before Web browsers hit the scene, we used a “command line” and traversed the Internet in text mode. We typed specific commands in order to retrieve information.

With a Web browser, we could navigate over the fast-growing Web portion of the Internet via a colorful, intuitive, graphical interface, and the use of a point-and-click mouse.

We learned HyperText Markup Language (HTML) coding for creating our own individual web pages using a text editor program.

What fueled the Internet’s dramatic rise in public usage after 1993 was the Web, and I contribute this largely to the Mosaic Web browser software installed in many personal computers.

Mosaic wasn’t the first Web browser.

Tim Berners-Lee is the person credited with writing the programming code which allows us to point and click our way through the myriad of hyper-links connecting documents, sounds, videos, and information we access via the World Wide Web portion of the Internet using a Web browser.

Berners-Lee called his creation a “global hypertext system.”

Some people believe the Internet and the Web are the same; but this is not true. The Web is actually a type of technology that works with the Internet.

We know the Internet is “the networks of networks.” This network consists of many devices, including: computers, cables, routers, switches, gateways, and data servers – all working together.

Information sent over the Internet consists of data bits inside a data packet. I tend to think of a data packet as analogous to a letter inside an envelope addressed to a specific mailing address.

This data packet travels through the many devices connected on the Internet. Each device, or “hop,” along the way determines which path the packet needs to take next so its information ends up getting to its desired destination.

The fewer the “hops,” the faster the information will be sent and retrieved.

The Internet delivers packets of information between connected devices anywhere in the world using transmission control and Internet protocols – and it does this very quickly.

The Web browser program called WorldWideWeb, was created by Tim Berners-Lee. This browser was made available to the public in 1991.

In 1994, a new Web browser called Netscape Navigator became extremely popular with Web users. It ended up becoming the dominant Web browser for the remainder of the 1990s.

During the last 20 years, many of us have come to spend hours on end online, interacting within our favorite websites using a variety of Web browsers.

Today, 2 billion of us world-wide, regularly use the Web.

Along the way, businesses were very carefully watching how the public became enamored with the Web. They soon realized, in order to keep themselves (and their products and services) in the eyes of this ever-growing online public;,they needed to have a presence on the Web.

Marketing firm Onyxdigital recently stated 85 percent of customers “expect businesses to be active in social media.”

Approximately 68 percent of business Twitter followers, and 51 percent of business Facebook fans, have a tendency to make a purchase from online business advertising.

Studies also show businesses with blogging accounts receive 55 percent more Web traffic.

Customers are increasingly using a business’s Twitter account or Facebook page for submitting questions and comments.

Onyxdigital reported 71 percent of complaints made on business Twitter accounts are not responded to. However, of the 29 percent who did receive a Twitter response, 83 percent said they were “satisfied” with it.

They also reported 30 percent of customer inquiries received “no reply” from a business’s online social media site. Onyxdigital posed this insightful question: “Would you NOT answer the phone 30 percent of the time?”

Onyxdigital’s website is located at: http://onyxdigital.co.za.

Online chat sessions via social media need to be utilized by more businesses to communicate with customers; much the same as if a customer was on the phone, or inside their brick-and-mortar store.

Too many online businesses have become fixated with their number of Twitter “followers” and “likes” on their Facebook pages, instead of cultivating one-on-one, productive customer interactions via their social media sites.

Companies with just a static, online social media presence are missing out.

Businesses need to establish a dynamic, online social media presence where the customer can easily communicate with them in real-time. This is a good way to network and nurture relationships with online patrons.


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