As TechCrunch noted this week, Facebook has surpassed AOL as the fourth most-trafficked website on the planet.  And while that news may not seem particularly surprising to the millions of Facebook users, here’s the really astounding part:

AOL is still the fifth most-trafficked website on the planet.

Yes, the same AOL that most web-savvy surfers haven’t touched since pre-millennium bug days is still more popular than all but 4 other websites in existence.  That boggles the mind.

It also explodes the notion that online change happens at lightning speed.  Sure, sites like Facebook and Twitter have seen massive growth in recent years, but the numbers AOL enjoys are proof that not everyone is adapting to new web technologies at the same rate.  And if a dinosaur from the Internet’s formative years can still command such loyalty, it’s no wonder that so many businesses — and users — are slow to embrace “new” social media solutions.

So… what does this mean for your web marketing plan?

  • Don’t presume everyone can be reached through one access point.
  • Don’t abandon useful services the moment a shiny new alternative arrives.
  • Don’t expect meaningful change to happen overnight.
  • Don’t neglect the audience that’s slow to adapt.

Sometimes it seems like the entire Internet lives at the cutting edge.  And when you’re considering the potential of a new site, a new tool or a new way of doing things, it’s tempting to believe the whole world is right there with you.

Then you turn around and realize the dinosaurs aren’t as far behind as you imagined, and that rocketship you’ve been building has to be converted into a bridge so no one gets left behind.