Web 2.0 Blog – Discovering Innovation Opportunities using Social Media

Lessons from Web 2.0 for brick and mortars: Guides to online innovation from an audience centered point of view.

Posted on: November 10, 2008

I have been struggling on how to think about the Web 2.0 or social media phenomenon. It seems to have taken on its own language now. And I made the mistake in 2007 of trying to explain Web 2.0 using those infectious terms of blog, tweet, follow, friending etc. This tool centered explanation by example, I found, does not work too well among the uninitiated. Besides that, today’s tools will not be tomorrow’s tools but I think there are underlying communication principles which drive the sucess of the current Web 2.0 experience and can be used a guide for future innovations. I also think these guiding elements can help discuss new pure Web 2.0 innovations, but also reveal opportunities to improve more familiar processes in business, government, and non-profits.

In this blog, I want to start a conversation about what is in the audience experience of Web 2.0 solutions have made them so successful among the much sought after consumer audience. I have noticed 5 reoccurring core themes which underlie the recent successful web 2.0 applications and companies.

First let’s talk about the difference between web 2.0 and web 1.0. The use of the internet in the web 1.0 era (which of course was a continuum to 2.0) was to convey information through web sites. The use of Web 2.0 is instead to evoke a response from the audience and turn that initial response into an ongoing engagement or conversation.

The Web 1.0 sites hoped to have the audience do something in response but it turns out evoking a response through simply conveying information on how they should respond is not very effective. Yet that was the hope all along for businesses, government, and nonprofits that by conveying information passively, they would get the audience to behave actively in some way. Even when a response was achieved it did not have a high probability of getting future responses from that same individual.

Web 2.0 has been much more successful at evoking responses and turning initial responses into a longer back and forth or engagement with and among audience members and this is why the tools which use these response-oriented techniques and technologies have become the focus of so much attention.

A good place to start finding opportunities for brick and mortars or more traditional organizations to better evoke a response from and create engagement with their audiences and in general to improve traditional processes is to identify what seem to be the underlying communication principles which drive the success of Web 2.0:

1. Interactivity
Use methods which make it clear and easy how an audience can interact or respond online and give multiple pathways to respond without violating element #4 (revelance). The interactivity must be highly accessible and match the information habits, styles and preferences of the users

2. Connections
Make connections and relationships with real people whether the connections are with people inside an organization or with others in the audience.

3. Outreach and listen to communities.
Think of your audience in terms of communities not demographics and actively outreach to the targeted communities. Communities are interconnected so they are pre-organized for communication to flow them and therefore provide more potential avenues to communicate with people in the community.

4. Relevance.
Provide highly relevant content to the audience. Content should be individualized to the individual’s interests when possible. This should not be confused with providing everything under the sun. Making content overwhelming makes is less relevant not more. Quality not Quantity.

5. Empowerment
Empower the audience whenever possible. People want to be heard and feel heard and wherever possible make a difference.

I know what you are going to say. I missed a lot things which also underlie some if not all sucessful Web 2.0 solutions. Such as the authenticity, social content, a human voice, crowdsourcing, interoperability, the networked audience effect, etc. But for now I want try to dissect what it is in the audience experience which makes social media so compelling. As with all web 2.0, this is up for discussion though. Hope to hear you opinions on this. In future posts, I will attempt to expand on this and discuss how these 5 themes can guide us to create better process in business, government and the non profit spaces.

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3 Responses to "Lessons from Web 2.0 for brick and mortars: Guides to online innovation from an audience centered point of view."

The new media phenomenon is very effective in designing a business outreach but how would the community stand out and sustain with so much outreach going on at the same time? That would be another good topic to discuss.

Ken,

I liked your Web 2.0 explanation. I also like seeing someone attempt explaining this is language beyond the cliché.

I was with a few folks at lunch today and we were discussing the fact that the terms web 2.0, social networking, etc. are all becoming overused and often used inappropriately. This is a time to discuss practical terminologies and the implications of the emerging online community. Even O’Reilly has skipped Web 3.0 and moved to Web 4.0 to describe where this is going.

I encourage you to keep the discussion going here.

Randy

Excellent descriptions on the differences between 1.0 and 2.0. I’m certain the brick-and-mortar types will find this to be very informative and useful. Excellent start to the conversation here! I’d add something insightful, but you pretty much nailed it. Nice work.

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