Will Our Web Sites Become Obsolete? (Hold Me)

If you’re like us at the Chamber, you took rebuilding your web site very seriously. We assembled a team of enthusiastic, in-the-know folks from various departments, each of whom offered what they wanted to see on our new (as of 2008) web site.

Now, however, social media consultant Jay Baer contends on his Convince & Convert blog that thanks to Facebook, our web sites may not even be relevant much longer. He asserts:

Like print newspapers, basketball players under 6 feet tall, and the McRib sandwich, the website as we know it will soon be a thing of the past – a quaint reminder of the original Internet era.

Who killed the website? Facebook, of course.

Ironically, Facebook itself started as humble website. But, for all its foibles and fairytales, its growth and groan-inducing missteps, Facebook and its leadership have known for a long time that websites are yesterday’s technology – they are just now getting around to twisting the knife.

Do You “Like” Me in Attack Mode?
Facebook is waging a three-pronged war on websites. The first front is the battle of expectations. Here, the objective is to change the way we think about information exchange online. Historically, we read “Web pages”. Now, the move is toward “social objects” which are invariably smaller, more directed pieces of content. Like a fussy deconstructed salad at a downtown restaurant with ridiculous unisex bathrooms, Facebook wants us to publish in tiny bursts of words, pictures, videos, and single purpose apps, rather than the page-length containers and complicated databases of yore.

Incidentally, this is why Google is so afraid of Facebook. Google has made a couple of dollars by reading and ranking Web pages. If the standard unit of publication becomes something other than the page, but rather smaller social objects like status updates and photos being published and ranked in real-time, Google’s role in that equation is diminished.

Facebook took a major (yet curiously underreported) move in this direction last week, when they enabled companies to publish to Facebook members’ news feeds for anyone that has “liked” a Web page…

If You Can’t Beat Em, Should You Join Em?
I have said on this very blog that I was dubious about putting too many eggs in Facebook’s basket, because you’re essentially building your marketing program on rented land. And I still feel that way. The amount of control Facebook has (or will have) over the data and interactions on the global Web is truly unprecedented (and I trust them even less than Google). But, if your old house is abandoned and full of mice and cobwebs, a shiny new house – even on rented land – may start looking pretty inviting.

RIP websites. It was great while it lasted.

This is all very intriguing and a bit alarming. If this were to happen, I wonder what the time frame would be. Time will tell, I suppose. But please "Like" us on Facebook just in case.