An Introduction to Web 2.0 For Internet Marketers
Web 2.0 has become something of a buzzword in the online marketing industry which gets thrown around quite a bit, though many are unclear on just what it means. What is Web 2.0? It's a somewhat nebulous concept which does not need to lend itself to a single cut-and-defined definition, although there is a growing consensus as to what exactly is – and is not Web 2.0.
The basic idea behind this shift in the approach to online content has to do with making the World Wide Web more user friendly and interactive. One of the hallmarks of Web 2.0 is user-supplied content on community-oriented sites; for example, Facebook, YouTube and Digg, along with any number of blogs. Web 2.0 is characterized by interactive rather than one way static communication channels which allow web users to build communities based on mutual interests and platforms which facilitate truly interactive communication.
What do all of these developments in web technology mean for internet marketers? In a word, opportunities. Opportunities to reach narrowly targeted groups of consumers, opportunities to get out ahead of the media and manage your own brand image and corporate identity and opportunities to communicate directly with consumers one on one.
Among the most common Web 2.0 platforms used by business are blogs and social networking services like MySpace and Facebook. These provide your business with a more personalized, friendly image which is accessible to the consumer on their own terms. Given the number of companies choosing these new methods of getting their messages out and raising their profiles, it behooves any internet marketer who wants to remain competitive to become involved in these social networking and social media platforms.
Establishing an identity for your business on social networking sites allows you to reach a much larger audience than you could using almost any other method – and of course, it's also free. While you should make your business available to users of social networks, you should avoid using this platform to advertise outright; in fact, almost nothing will alienate people more quickly.
What you should do is to provide some general information about your business (and a link to your main website), but focus on being helpful and informative. Offer your insight rather than an actual marketing message. If you manage to catch the interest of fellow users, this will get them to visit your site and do business with you.
Social media sites like YouTube are a place where you can reach many potential customers. Again, the best approach to take is to be informative rather than making a sales pitch; you can provide a link to your website for interested viewers to use if they'd like to learn more. This and other community-provided video sites are another good way for internet marketers in any industry to leverage the potential of Web 2.0 platforms to reach the consumer, particularly the highly desirable youth market.
There are of course many other platforms and techniques which can help you to take full advantage of Web 2.0 technologies and the opportunities they provide to business. The important thing is to get started immediately; the benefits of these new developments are there for the taking and can help you to build your business online.