A little flavour of what's in store...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Article: web 2.0 - you didn't even realise you were using it did you?

If your a regular of web design and optimisation forums, then you've probably not been able to open your email without seeing some reference to web 2.0.

If your a regular web user, who leaves such things to the 'geek community' (I count myself amongst them before you all start complaining) and uses the Internet in a more social context, then the term probably won't have crossed your mind before. Nonetheless, you've probably been practising web 2.0 wiithout even realising it.

SO what is web 2.0? Put simply - it's beyond email. Its how we interact with each other online, through websites that have been created with social networking in mind. For example, before web 2.0, if you wanted to contact a website owner about their product or service, you emailed or telephoned them. There was no way to share your thoughts about that company or its products or leave meaningful feedback for other visitors to see and gain from.

Web 2.0 changes all that. Web 2.0 is technologies that allow users of sites to create and share content, opinions, ideas, iniatives or issues affecting them. Web 2.0 is all about communication. As SiteProNews put it "It is the evolution of the internet from an endless library of static pages to an endless world of conversations" (well said!).

Such pages can of course be restricted to members or open discusssions. The only difference is that participation can be on a global scale.

Also, our perception of a product, service or news item can be affected by individual comment rather than taking the view of the article writer or broadcaster. Now the audience is determining the angle of the story. And because web 2.0 is so fluid and instantaneous, its more like face to face communication than any other technology before it.

So how do we recognise web 2.0? What are these revitalising technologies? For a start, Blogs are web 2.0. Think about it for a minute, you discuss particular topics close to your own heart, recommend shops or services to fellow bloggers, offer social comment on others blogs and generally take part in what could be described as neighbourhood chats. Of course the neighbourhood is literally the whole world so word spreads far faster than by 'traditional methods' of past.

Online marketeers are switching onto web 2.0 as they realise that social networking will account for more and more of the referrals and visitors to their web sites as time goes on, Already, the likes of Google are developing technologies that lean towards more social networking search results rather than the traditional search for this - here are the sites that match your search approach.

Online shopkeepers are realising that when they talk with customers / visitors, something wonderful happens (no not a dirty big monalith type space thingy) but visitors engage more and are thus (if they are satisfied) more likely to paste a link to you to their network of friends. Think of it as a modern day over the garden fence recommendation.

Web 2.0 is Wikis - websites that allow you to edit material already presented. Wilkipedia is a great example of this. Blogs we've already mentioned but beyond text 'chat', you can also send pictures, video or audio (podcasting) which again invite response.

SMS is readily available on mobile phones and now computer programs are allowing you to send sms via your pc to phones etc. Video conferencing has been around for some time, but again, webcasts are now entering the public domain as everyone from prime ministers to rock stars and celeb chefs use these new technologies to reach a wider audience.

MySpace is yet another incredible example of how social networking is evolving. If you've already had a look and dismissed it as so much idle chatter, look again. It offers you, particularly as an online trader, the opportunity to start a network of contacts some of whom may visit your site and who may even over time once you've gained their trust, buy from you. They won't if you go all out "visit my site - buy now". That's not how social networking works. You need them to feel comfortable enough with your views and beliefs etc to pass on your contact links to their friends etc.

Search Engine Optimisation comes as standard as many of these networks do get picked up on by the search engines crawling for information so, for example a well written article talking about a topic related to your products or services getting links to it from other interested readers will get noticed.

Of course, you've got to keep these iniatives up to date but it's worth spending an hour or two twice a week updating your blogs, rss feeds and profiles etc with fresh content. You wouldn't walk into a pub and expect people to start talking to you would you? No, you engage in conversation, tentatively at first, then as you become more familiar, so you broaden your discussions and invite other people in the pub to take part.

Web 2.0 - no sweat! Your already doing it. As with anything else, keep practising and if your an online trader, pretty soon you'll be reaping the benefits of the extra exposure.

Jonathan C Crouch.
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Purple 13 - the award winning digital photo art of Mandy Collins
Please credit a link back to this article if you use or reproduce it.

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