While most people are familiar with the concepts of the Internet and the ‘web’, the relatively recent term ‘Web 2.0′ might stump some. The 2.0 suggests the second generation of the Web, reflecting usage in software development where the first release is named 1.0 with small updates numbered sequentially (1.1, 1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3 etc), however significant upgrades of a product merits a whole integer change.
The Web itself has not undergone any technical changes in terms of the software or hardware used (although the machines used to access the Web have changed dramatically since the creation of the World Wide Web back in 1991, most notably with the increase in terms of mobile access) but instead the ’2.0′ refers to the change in usage.
If we consider the Web as it was when it first became mainsteam, it was very static and the user was a consumer. The vast majority of users would read what was on the Web without altering it; it was a one-way stream of information. The Web was expanding as more users got involved, and created their own personal websites, but the average user was still just consuming the information presented.
After the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, the Web started to change. Shortly afterwards, social networking sites arrived and changed the way the Web is used. From Friendster and MySpace to Facebook and LinkedIn, users were encouraged to supply the information. No longer was the Web a one-way street; the consumers are the creators, or at least contributors. This is most obvious when you observe the popularity and ubiquitousness of Wikipedia. According to (yes, you guessed it) Wikipedia, the site has over 100,000 active contributors which have helped to make it the most used reference site on the Web.
Wikipedia is not alone in relying upon user-generated content to attract and maintain users. YouTube for example has just a handful of videos uploaded by the creators of the site, yet it gets over 800,000,000 users a month, watching 3,000,000,000 hours of videos. These videos are uploaded by the public at a rate of roughly one hour uploaded per minute. Like wikipedia, without the users, there is no content. The static, one directional Web has been replaced by the dynamic social Web: Web 2.0.
Fascinating as this history is, how does it affect your business? Now that the Web user is looking to participate rather than simply consume, it becomes necessary for you to permit and encourage this. If you sell a great product or provide a great service, let your users discuss this. Make it easy for them to Like it via Facebook or tweet about it on Twitter. Let your users do your advertising for you; there is no substitute for word of mouth promotion from genuine users.
There are more than 30,000,000 users on Facebook just in the United Kingdom. Worldwide there are over 830,000,000 users. If you can get just a tiny fraction of these people discussing your company, your product then that will be seen by a slightly larger fraction, which will be seen by a slightly larger fractions. If you have 50 Facebook friends, and they see your post about a new dress that you have in stock, and it is commented upon, or liked or reposted by one of these 50 friends, then any of their friends can see it, and maybe repost it again. In this way, your one post can be seen by thousands of people within hours.
Web 2.0 is focussed on social networking and the dynamic Web. It takes advantage of the almost constant presence that users have on the Web and encourages the user to be the contributor. At MGA we can help you to harness this power in order to increase your visibility on the internet and help your brand to spread.