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Saturday, February 2, 2008

It's a Web 2.0 World, baby, and you'd better get on the bus now before you (and your revenue generating properties) miss out!

You're a small business owner. Your business has a website. You have children.

You could learn a thing or two from your children about how to make the most of your company's presence on the web.

How?

First, an aside: you've probably heard about this whole "Web 2.0" business the last couple of years. But how many times have you heard it defined? Do you really know what Web 2.0 is? Do you know what it stands for?

In its simplest sense, the term Web 2.0 simply conveys the message that the World Wide Web has come a long way since its humble beginnings. From a developer's perspective, Web 2.0 defines websites that are standards-compliant and optimized for interoperability (there's a lot that goes into both aspects, but we'll skip that for now). From a user's perspective, Web 2.0 defines the ability to create and share content from multiple sources, whether it be a blog, a news feed, photos, music, or just about anything else that can be served up online.

It's probably no big surprise that the 18-24 demographic represents the largest proportion of visitors to Web 2.0 sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Wikipedia according to Hitwise, a market data research firm that specializes in internet marketing. Further, research from Avenue A | Razorfish suggests in its Digital Consumer Behavior Study that 55% of online consumers rely on user reviews to determine whether a product or service is worth purchasing.

Of course, many big companies have taken advantage of the opportunities to reach the wide audiences of the aforementioned sites, as well as social networks such as MySpace and Facebook. Smaller outfits that lack the advertising budgets of the retail giants have used sites like YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and Flickr to their advantage by creating profiles, uploading "soft" ad videos, uploading photos of new products (or even better, uploading photos of people using those products), and creating social groups around their products and services. And, many companies have also managed to attract a following of Friends on social networking sites.

The true advantage of these types of sites is that they allow users to leave comments for other users pertaining to photos, blog entries, videos, you name it... so, it's likely that a user who has purchased a product from a certain company will leave a comment for that company on its social networking profile. And, it's likely that the comment will be an ad-hoc review of the product. With the assumption that the review is positive, this will serve effectively as a public endorsement for your product. Collect a few such comments, and don't be surprised when traffic to your company's website begins to pick up.

Of course, in order to take full advantage of all the marketing opportunities that this Web 2.0 world has to offer, you have to have the time and ability to create your own user-created content on Web 2.0 sites. This is where your kids (or your neighbor's kids) come in: chances are that they are well-versed in the lingua franca of these sites already, and they could probably give you quite a tutorial.

-DWD Staff

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