A couple of years after 2007, when Facebook introduced brand pages, we started seeing an evolution of online social culture around brands. But, brands that got the fans, garnered the likes and had enough clicks on their ads to justify their marketing spends, were and still are a chosen few. These brands are the ones that consumers love to wear and use. We can even go as far as calling them social brands: brands around which people socialize.
Where then do the rest of the brands and businesses fit in? Does not being socially relevant make them irrelevant in the consumer’s world? Unlikely, because most of the businesses that we rely on are not the businesses that we socialize around. These businesses are operating in the shadows to make sure our world continues to function smoothly.
While we do not identify socially with these businesses, we need information on and about them so that we can choose the ones that are most appropriate for our needs: A reason as good as social identification, when it comes to following a brand or a business. However, on social networks, information on and about businesses is limited. Where then can we look for these brands and businesses?
We discovered that there is a place.A place that is other than the World Wide Web and the Yellow Pages – a platform called Trepup that is dedicated to business networking.
What does Trepup do differently from social networks?We asked CEO, John Verbic, and he said, “ Trepup’s primary purpose is not to promote sameness, we are not there to create clusters of people who identify with each other and with the brands that they support. Trepup celebrates uniqueness: our mission is to organize business information that is unique to each business and to help customers meet their unique needs.”
The second big difference that we noticed on Trepup is that there is no split between people and brands. All posts appear on Trepup’s central, organizing board, called Trepboard, where news and events by businesses take equal precedence to videos and photos by people. Reviewing the Trepboard makes us feel that they are not only celebrating uniqueness, but they are also celebrating the overlap between people and businesses. After all in the new sharing economy, more often than not, we find that an individual is a business: an entrepreneurial force as powerful and valuable as a small business entity.
One more difference that stands out is the ability to search for a business or an individual, despite having very little information about them. You don’t need a name or any specific details to search on Trepup. You can find the business or the individual by location and by keyword.Now this makes the network open and accessible, where your chances of being found and seen are equal to anyone else’s. It’s truly a way to discover the unknown—think Google and narrow it down to geographically organized business information—that’s what you get on Trepup.
We tried to search for businesses offering a service as ordinary as accounting and the results that showed up were precise and organized by location. There was no need to click on multiple search results to see which one was the closest match. Geographic proximity helped us narrow down the choices and visual presentation of facts and content helped us make a quick, yet informed decision.
The viewing of search results moved us deeper into Trepup, where we spent some time looking at Trepup’s business pages. And that’s what brought us to the question that forms the central topic of this article – Has the world moved on from websites? While we can’t yet answer that question with a qualified yes, we can surely tell you this that now it is possible to move away from website silos and into a more integrated world of businesses and business information.
Why then are many businesses still stuck in Web 1.0, where content is all that mattered? Could it be because so far Web 2.0 has ignored content presentation of business information? Every business wants their content to be visible, engaging, and well presented. While Web 2.0 has succeeded in making people interact with brands in new ways, we think, it hasn’t fully explored the possibilities of content presentation, especially for the world of business. Now this may seem unnecessary to you, but business does form a significant part of our economic activity and the concentration of this activity is fast moving online.
In the online world, where you are fighting for a few precious seconds of consumer attention, you don’t just need to be creative but you also need to create memorable recall. One way to create recall is through visual stimulus, the way in which you present static yet important and relevant content to people. What we see on Trepup confirms that their business pages address this need and by doing this they genuinely enable businesses to shed the reliance on websites – a phenomenon of an era long passed.
While Trepup has successfully carried business information and content from the past into the present, at what point will it connect things to the future – The future of Web 3.0, where artificial intelligence pervades the user’s digital environment, anticipates the user’s needs and fulfills these needs unsolicited? We let this question pass because Web 3.0 is still a few miles away even for the czars of the Internet. However, the question that we did ask was about the foreseeable future: Now thatTrepup has used a unifying code that assigns a business value to everyone who is online, can they tell us how individuals and businesses will interact on Trepup?What is it that will make them speak to each other?
This seemed to us an important question, because interaction is still a present-day feature, one that has gained prevalence in our world. Mr.Verbic’s response was, “Email! It is email that will make people and businesses speak to each other.” Not telepathic intervention, but email, an underestimated service that has respected and retained the privacy of our highly exposed worlds. We didn’t mind the answer, in fact, it made us feel relieved, but we needed to ask why. Why did the creators of Trepup choose email as the mode of communication?
To this question, Mr. Verbic responded with an explanation, “We wanted to keep it simple. There’s too much distraction as it is, while that may be tolerable when it comes to social interests, it does not lend itself to need-based interests. Business is about needs and not about noise. We believe that businesses need to earn the attention of their tribe and speak directly to them. Metaphorically, this is the same thing as looking someone in the eye and having a conversation, as opposed to looking at everyone in the room and speaking to no one in particular. The first is more likely to leave an impression.”
We are hopeful that that may truly be the case. And as far as moving on from websites goes, unless your website is a product, such as Airbnb or your website is a platform, such as Trepup, there is no good reason for your business to hold on to Web 1.0 any longer.
More about Mr. Verbic, in his words:
“I moved to Mumbai with my family from New York City in 2007. After 15 years of banking experience, the four of us left what was familiar in order to take a chance on an uncertain future. It was our decision alone – no company moved us. Like immigrants, we arrived with hope, and optimism that we could succeed no matter the challenge.
With its cultural and socio-economic diversity and riveting business environment, India offered us a world that was nowhere close to flat. Access to resources was skewed and the scales were always tipped. Coming from banking, I had seen what tech companies were capable of, and wondered why technology was not being applied to level the playing field?
In the sharing and creator economy, the world is no longer divided into manufacturers and consumers. Individuals have become business entities meeting the needs of other entities and individuals. The needs too have become more varied and unique, that’s what has led to the age of mass – mass choices. Trepup is celebrating this overlap and this uniqueness. It’s bringing the world closer together for business”
Trepup is a ‘Made in India’ product, built in Mumbai. More information on Trepup can be found on www.trepup.com.