Posted by: DrAlanRae | November 16, 2007

Reflections on Web 2.0

Over the last couple of years we have becoming increasingly aware of something called Web 2.0. Precise descriptions vary but really it’s about how the internet has moved from being static pages with the odd purchase transaction to something which is very much more organic and reflects the needs and concerns of the moment.

This reflects the breakdown of the broadcast model of communication. For most of the 20th Century content was created and delivered via large corporations. However as tools such as faxes, texts, web pages and email became widely used, the idea of peer to peer communication gained ground. In fact a main driver for going online was to have a mechanism to communicate our ideas to the world.

Over time more tools were created to support this thirs for outbound communication – blogging tools, social networks like Ecademy, Linked-in and Facebook and YouTube. A host of open source tools to allow individuals to create groups, run forums and communicate with each other was developed as well as those that supported ad hoc collaborations on a project by project basis like Basecamp.

In short a whole set of mechanisms to allow Conversation, Collaboration and Aggregation meant individuals and organisations could easily and continuously self publish. The corporate world displays real difficulty in comprehending this. Witness the ultimately futile rearguard campaign fought by the music industry and the BT’s insistence as late as 2005 that “we need content to drive broadband” – oblivious to the fact that the consumers were busily creating and reading their own.

Now that broadband availability has critical mass it’s possible for small companies to use these tools to create a much bigger footprint on the web than in the days of static pages. The technical illuminati discovered that if they created multiple presences and wrote enough stuff that was interesting it would be picked up by others, commented upon and communities of interest could spontaneously form and develop. Better still their organic search rankings would improve out of all recognition.

In fact some people were able to build virtual business operating with a cloud of associates simply held together by “virtual sticky tape and chewing gum”. This let them avoid building and maintaining an in-house IT infrastructure altogether.

Earlier this year we interviewed a number of early adopters who were using the tools of Web 2.0 to good effect. Some of these were running social networking sites, others were simply using social networks and blogs to supplement their own marketing activities in “ordinary” businesses like web design, technical writing and business services such as IFAs or Solicitors.

We pulled together their experiences to create “Punch above your Weight” which summarises what you need to know about making these tools work for you. It focuses on how to use Google ad-words as a research tool to help you deconstruct your story into the words and phrases that people use to talk about your product or service and how to deploy that knowledge to create a growing organic cyberspace footprint using blogs, social networks and RSS feeds. As well as the workshop we’ve now created in in e-book format. You can buy it via the blogroll!.

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