2.0 for Web 2.0 - could it benefit your business?
The Internet is the most powerful and far reaching marketing tool available to small businesses and increasingly word of mouth is now word of blog, email or IM and thats what web 2.0 is - when we stop hearing the messages sent by those who can afford to send them and we just learn from the messages we share from the access we now have to one another.
According to Tim O'Reilly who coined the phrase "Web 2.0" in 2004:
"Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as a platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform."
Web 2.0 presents opportunities use the internet in new and interactive ways to deliver an unprecedented amount of information and choice to an unprecedented audience.
Unlike declining traditional
media the internet offers users control over access and it gives consumers
choice. Web 2.0 represents a major blow for traditional advertising methods
because Web 2.0 is about the online experience the user has customised
- and no one wants ads! Marketing is to survive only as part of a media
experience that is embraced, not an unwelcome interruption to be filtered
Social networking - the explosion of sites like Myspace, Bebo, and Facebook - has transformed the online social environment into a place where branding happens naturally. Myspace, the big daddy of social networking sites, created an online environment where brands as well as bands, characters and ideas could be accounted for with online identities.
You only have to go to the stats to see the wild popularity of these sites in New Zealand and around the world. Even I choked when the Herald quoted 800,000 kiwis use www.bebo.com. It comes behind only Google and Trademe.
By creating a presence
for your business on social networks you are able to present content
and interact with other users participating in a massive global network
either as an individual representing or creating awareness (this will
be required on facebook and bebo which are not so friendly to commercial
brands), a brand profile of your business, or even a key product! Or
all three! There's no rule against having multiple accounts.
It is still the truth that most of your website traffic will come from search engines and in New Zealand that is almost overwhelmingly the Google search engine. To put what is often reported to be a complex and competitive study into simple terms, search engine optimisation (SEO) is based around keyword matched content and the ranking of its relevancy in the search by the amount of links to it and the quality of those links.
Search engines can be influenced in two ways - by both the quality and quantity of written content you make available and the quantity and quality of backlinks created to your site from other sites. Distributing and sharing as much content furnished with links back to your site as you can make available is the most effective way to dramatically increase your search rank, send your brand around the world and bring traffic to your website.
All I will say is that websites that follow the web 2.0 format which are some of the highest ranked in the world - myspace, youtube, blogger - the last two of which of course are owned by google, are ranked in a different way by google, and using these sites in different ways to make people aware and provide links to your website can have dramatic results.
But when your marketing message has assumed the appearance of a media experience - whether a blog, a podcast or a short video demonstration - that you have made available through your various online social network to share and enjoy as "infotainment" it's no longer advertising! And when people are motivated to share the information you have provided they are not only building your search ranking but sharing your marketing message that testifies to your personal brand representing knowledge and experience of the products and services you provide.
Video marketing is the hottest thing in internet promotion right now and youtube is popular with an older demographic where social networking hasn't spread. Unlike everything else I've talked about - videos in themselves will not increase your search rank on google! But the message out there is if you can do it, prove it - film it! People want to see for themselves and now you can show them!
Video content provides important information, breaking down the anonymity that effects a potential customer or clients decision to purchase online based on trust - and an opportunity to offer deeper understanding through presentation and demonstration.
many more people will connect with your marketing messages as a visual image and when it comes to media - the types of companies that could never dream of affording to market by broadcasting video can now provide it cheaply in a way that makes it accessible long after it is first made available.
One of the most successful viral campaigns focused on a series of short clips experimenting with blending different unusual objects in a brand presentation for a blender - the clip featuring an iphone received over 3 million views on youtube.
XML, RSS, P2P, Aggregation
Web 2.0 continues to present newer and better solutions for distributing and accessing information but unlike social networking and video marketing these concepts of syndicating content feeds and providing ever more options for choice and access ideas which time is yet to come.
But it remains that web 2.0 marketing is about "pull" and not "push". Using social networking, and sharing blogs and videos, generating content that appeals to users whether it be through information, experience, demonstration, experiments or simply just the quirky, entertaining or humourous is a chance to build awareness of your business while connecting with people in a way they will appreciate and remember.
People are far more likely to "go with what they know" so establishing social profiles and participating in online communities, providing content that people will use and value, in a way that supports higher ranking in searches for your site is the best way for generating leads and contacts in the new online environment.