Going Social: Imagine a World Without Websites
A Mobile World
“Homepage. Even the word sounds old. Today the news lives where you live.”
This is the text that greets you when you visit the news site NowThis. It’s immediately followed by links to their various social channels. As the adage goes, “you have to be where your audience is,” and for NowThis, that audience is not visiting their website.
Each of the top online news sites report far more visits from mobile users than desktop users. Recent studies show that people spend 85 percent of their mobile time on apps, not websites. Newer social channels like Snapchat exist purely on mobile and are providing brands with a thriving ecosystem of content publishing that exists outside of a web environment.
More and more, brands are realizing that they have to engage their consumers on social channels just to stay—or seem—relevant.
“Poetry in motion, or physics at work? The #science behind #basketball. #FinalFour” –@3M
“What do Hot Wheels and Huggies have in common? That’s what #MarchMadness fans are buying most!” –@Wunderman
What do these tweets have in common? They were posted on the night of the final game of the NCAA tournament—by brands that have nothing to do with basketball. From Target to Chevron to Jose Cuervo, March Madness had many brands taking to twitter and other social channels just to be part of the national conversation, even if they had little or no connection to college hoops.
Brands seeking clicks or eyeballs for the sake of that ever-elusive relevancy must continually bend themselves to the mood and the medium of their audience. And that medium is social.
What does all this say about the future websites? In this new mobile world where social engagement is king, is the day of dot com done?
I Dot Com Therefore I Am
NowThis represents a new trend of certain brands, in this case a news site, abandoning their web presence to be only “where you live.” But while this may seem extremely significant and seem as if it is heralding the dawn of a new all-social era … what is far more significant and telling is this: They still have a website. It exists for the sole purpose of directing you to their social channels. It exists because if it didn’t, they probably wouldn’t.
Nowadays, even your local dog walker has a website. It’s proof that you exist. It’s a necessary evil—minus the evil. For bigger brands, it’s also about having personality.
On a website, you are the master of your domain. You have complete control of how your brand looks, sounds, and feels. As one Adcetera senior interactive developer puts it, “It’s your stuff versus their stuff.” Many social channels limit creative expression and force conformity to their brand standards. They want to create a uniform experience. And in all that uniformity, if a brand can’t stand out, that is yet another way it doesn’t exist.
There may come a day where brands can exist and express their uniqueness through social channels alone. But for now, they still need a place they can call home.