You may or may not have involvement with the promotion of e-commerce or Internet marketing. If you do, then you are fortunate if you do not, then quite probably you are in charge of the back office who may support companies wishing to get more involved in the Web 2.0 revolution. This is a subject that I have a personal interest in as I have conducted a number of experiments in the Web 2.0 arena. Advanced e-Commerce was one of the subjects I opted to learn more about when studying for my MBA.
What is Web 2.0
A lot of people have a different interpretation of what they think Web 2.0 is and how it should be described. Let’s step back a little to explain its predecessor which (not surprisingly) was called Web 1.0.
Web 1.0 basically consisted of accessible pages on the Internet that gave information to its viewers e.g. train timetables, theatre performance times etc. In a Web 1.0 environment, there was little ability for the “enquirer” (the person requesting the information) to actually interface with that web page e.g. write comments etc.. The information was generally “static”
This changed with Web 2.0 as Internet based technology advanced and gave the ability for users to interface not only with organisations but there were also platforms created where users could interface with each other. The most famous sites at this present time being Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You could also include YouTube as users can upload their videos and other users can comment about them. These sites have millions upon millions of users, all of whom are interfacing online with their families, friends and colleagues using Web 2.0 technology.
Prior to Web 2.0 platforms it was relatively difficult to share information with fellow users. In most instances, it would be a case of copying a URL and pasting it into some form of email system and forwarding on. Web 2.0 interfaces a mass of information creating “sharing forums” which allow very easy sharing of information, very quickly.
The Power and Addiction of Web 2.0 Technology
If you are running a business you need to look at Web 2.0 in two ways. The first is to leverage the ability to share information rapidly to potential and existing customers. If you can gain a large following for instance in Twitter, then you can send the message directly to people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say.
Exploitation of this ability to communicate goes beyond what I can describe in this article. All I can say is that within three days of going live on Twitter, my “following” went from zero to over 300 people. You must not forget blogging either, this is a great way of creating exposure and many have RSS feeds which means followers can get updates of your “blogging” activity as and when you post new information to the Internet. Online video technology is booming, every day I get an invitation to attend a “webinar” where potential customers from across the world can link in via a video link and participate in
“virtual” meetings. VLOG's (Video Blogs) are the current trend.
Web 2.0 is already causing some companies some problems too and if you are an Business Process Improvement Director trying to promote “operational excellence” you can face issues. Applications such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can be addictive and thus staff may want to access these applications when they are meant to be working on growing your business and making customers happy. Ensure you police this well and publish a policy so there can be no misinterpretation of what can and cannot be done in the work place. If you were tactical you may even want to exploit this addiction by getting some staff to work for the marketing department in order to promote “social media marketing” or getting them to follow your company and share among their audience your updates.
If you are new the Internet World then you may or not have heard of Adwords which is Google’s advertising system. I have run many campaigns for friends who own companies and to experiment for myself. The results can be astounding , but you do have to pay for this advertising as it is a CPC (cost per click) based system.
Web 2.0 can give you two main operational benefits. The first is that the marketing department could be just one person or hugely downsized as correct targeting does not need a great deal of resource plus there are a number of automated systems that can help drive exposure. The second (and probably most important) is that it is free to start up and use.
You need a defined strategy as to where you want to be, however, the power of the web is such that analytics are excellent and a number of applications are free anyway e.g. Google Analytics, Awstats etc. This enables you to gauge success and return on investment.
Web 2.0 represents the ability of companies and people in general to interact with each other via the Internet, rather than looking at static web pages that offer static information. As Internet applications have evolved interactivity has increased by huge proportions. You can use this to your commercial advantage whilst at the same time trimming what could be high non-digital marketing costs.