The internet is probably feeling a lot like Eminem right now.
Yep. Today we are talking about net neutrality—and you should be too. Why? Because unless you are the heir to the Verizon Wireless fortune, all the talk about dismantling net neutrality is bad news for you. No, really, the only “people” who benefit from net neutrality are big businesses like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc. (what else is new?). If this is the first article you are reading about net neutrality, we recommend checking out these posts—here, here, and here— for a better idea of what net neutrality is all about and the actions being taken by the government and big business to dismantle it. When you’re done, come back to this article to get a better understanding of why dismantling net neutrality is not only bad for individual internet users, but also for startups and small business.
While we could go on for hours about how god-awful it would be if ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) became internet gatekeepers (side note: could 2017 get any worse?), we at Marketing Supply Co. feel that it would be most beneficial to anyone reading this to discuss the startup perspective on dismantling net neutrality because, frankly, it’s what we know best.
If this is your first time hearing about Marketing Supply Co., we are a digital marketing startup headquartered in Detroit, so it’s safe to say we know a little something about the relationship between the internet and startups. More than that, we are a startup that works with other startups to develop and execute their digital marketing strategies. So, like most people, we literally could not do our job without unrestricted internet access. On top of that, it’s more than likely that we will not be capable of producing the results for our clients that they are accustomed to—that we have built our reputation on.
If for-profit internet providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast are given the ability to block any website they disagree with—in other words, censoring any website they view as direct or indirect competition. What does this mean for startups and web innovation in general? Well, let’s take a trip back in time to when Uber & Lyft were just two unknown startups, looking to make car travel easier. Now, imagine that an ISP like Verizon or Comcast decided that they preferred Lyft to Uber so, in turn, they blocked Uber’s site, or worse off, decided that traditional Taxi services were near perfect, so they blocked Uber, Lyft, and any other startup looking to provide a similar service…
That’s what dismantling net neutrality can mean for startups—ending them before they have the opportunity to take off, or killing off competition so there is no need to make improvements or compete to be better for consumers. Ultimately, digital censorship means neutering innovation.
We’ve discussed the importance of social media for startups many o’ times on our blog. For startups, social media is—currently—a virtually free way to market their services, products, and/or brand. Additionally, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have created a space where startups, and businesses in general, can start a dialogue with their consumers, and address their questions and comments in a public forum. For us and our clients, we use social media to help our clients reach their customers where they already are. Our social advertising efforts exist solely on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. It’s the core of our business.
What does this have to do with the potential dismantling of net neutrality? Well, if ISPs have the power to carve up the internet like a Thanksgiving turkey—similarly to what happened to cable (RIP)—they will also have the power to force you to pay extra for bundles that include social media platforms you don’t necessarily want, just to get access to the sites you actually use like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. So, what happens when you can’t/won’t pay for these additional sites? Well, you will no longer be able to easily access your favorite social media platforms, thus hindering you from discovering new brands or connecting with brands you already love. For startups, this is even worse news because it is likely that they will miss the opportunity to present their brand/service/product to a lot of people who could truly benefit from it. Not to mention, consumers can miss out on important promotions or news concerning brands they use/buy that could directly affect them.
Another digital marketing tactic we frequently discuss at Marketing Supply Co. is the importance of quality, organic content and the long-term strategy of on-site and off-site SEO. As a quick, general overview, the goal of quality, organic content (like this blog post, for example) paired with SEO is to get content to rank higher on SERPs, so people searching for answers are able to access quality information without having to search too hard for it. SEO and organic search ranking are also great for businesses because they are a cost-effective way to establish credibility and drive organic traffic to their site whilst also providing valuable information for consumers.
So, how can something as pure as quality, search engine optimized content be negatively impacted by dismantling net neutrality? As we mentioned earlier, dismantling net neutrality will give ISPs the power to block websites, but it will also give them the ability to prioritize certain sites over others, even if the content isn’t as high quality. So, in short, have fun digging for the content/answers you’re actually looking for after they are buried by sites that favor ISPs or pay them enough to have ISPs favor them.
This post covers just a few negative effects that dismantling net neutrality can have on startups and small business. If you are unclear on where Marketing Supply Co. stands in regards to net neutrality, here are our thoughts: LONG LIVE NET NEUTRALITY. We could not possibly sum up why net neutrality should stay as is better than democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel did in this public statement, “Our Internet economy is the envy of the world because it is open to all.”