There is a new Web-based tool, phone app or social network being introduced every day. First there is excitement, and then the flurry of articles on how to use it for business and how it will change business and the world.
I like to try as many things as I can but I have a hard time deciding what the next big thing is. Is Google Voice the next big thing?
You can choose one phone number that is attached to you, and it checks up to six numbers to connect you with the caller. It has voicemail and custom voicemail, and I think it may heat a cup of coffee, too, but I haven’t figured out that feature yet.
Google Voice is popular and cutting-edge, but I am not using it. I have only one phone number and it is for my cell phone. I am unwilling to get more phone numbers, as that could make me too easy to find.
Phones are ancient technology and they were the next big thing decades ago. I thought text messages were the next big thing and that they replaced voicemail. Maybe it is e-mail that replaced voice, but I remember when e-mail was the next big thing and it is still big.
Posterous was last year’s big thing and so I had to use it. I still do, but I am not sure why. Tumblr was a big thing three years ago and seems to be making a comeback. It is the opposite of Posterous.
Tumbler aggregates content from several channels into a single blog, while Posterous takes content that is published to a single Posterous blog and distributes it to other channels.
Maybe I will figure out how to have everything that is published to Tumblr go to Posterous and create an endless loop just to see what happens.
Early this year the common wisdom was that we had to have Facebook fan pages to stay in business. My fan page is populated by people who read my blog. The blog has an advertisement for the fan page on it because I need a Facebook page to stay in business, but few people find that page via Facebook.
I use the Facebook fan page to post links to articles on my blog, but it is different from my blog because it is inside of Facebook and my blog is not.
Digg, a measure of online content’s popularity based on clicks on a Digg button by users — was a big deal. It seemed like Digg could make or break a blogger, but that was before the "Like" button from Facebook was introduced. I still use my Digg account. One day Digg may be the next big thing again, and who knows — it could replace the "Like" button.
In 2007 I recall reading that the RSS feed was going to replace e-mail and that if Realtors wanted to remain competitive they needed a blog with an RSS feed by 2008 because that was the year that Internet Explorer integrated an RSS reader into its browser. Other browsers already had it built in, but that didn’t seem relevant at the time.
RSS feeds are used for many things but they did not replace e-mail, which is a good thing because I need to use e-mail to explain to people what the little orange icon on my blog is for.
When Google Wave first hit, it was the big thing. People begged for wave invitations and there were articles about how it would change everything. When I got my invite I played with Wave for awhile and quickly lost interest.
Google lost interest, too, and the Wave never got to be the next big thing. Google Buzz came out shortly after the Wave and became the next big thing. I have not looked at Buzz for awhile but I am using it. Buzz is not all that different from FriendFeed, but FriendFeed — which was acquired by Facebook — is too 2006.
The next big thing tends to come and go quickly these days. Each big thing seems to be bigger than ever but doesn’t seem to last very long. It is important to try new things and experiment with them, or at least be aware of them — but it is also important not to waste too much time using something that is taking time but not adding value.
When you find the next big thing for your business you will know it.
If you don’t know what the next big thing is, you are not alone. No one knows what the next big thing is. You may be able to sell real estate without it, and it might not be the next big thing for you.
There isn’t any way to stay on top of it all. As you read this, some child sitting in a dormitory room may be almost done inventing the next big thing that will change the world and business as we know it … for a short time.