Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Web 2.0


There was an interesting presentation this morning at our local Chamber of Commerce on Web 2.0 (and marketing). The presenter gave us a pretty good history lesson on where it came from and how it is different than web 1.0.

On the way out of the building, a local businessman I knew said, "Brad, is this something I need to devote time to?" A good question. As an entrepreneur, you have quite a few items pulling on you every day...is there room to fit social media or Twitter or Facebook or...?

The two cardinal virtues of web 2.0 are "authenticity" and "community". Authentic, as meaning you are who you say you are (and not trying to sell something to others by pretending to be otherwise), and community as contributing towards the goals or purposes of a group.

If you are wanting to 'get yourself some of those twitter things' so you can sell more sugar water - then your lack of authenticity will keep you from really being able to do just that. And you will also find your community to consist of others trying to sell their own sugar water.

I joined an entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn, and one of the first posts I read was someone asking if there were any real entrepreneurs in the group (and not just people trying to sell their own product or services)! That is not going to help you.

But going back to the businessman I spoke to earlier - he could use a social media group for his employees (to make it easier to communicate what's going on), or he could start a group for his clients to talk to one another about whatever his product is...these could be ways to develop a useful web 2.0 presence. If he builds a place where people can communicate on issues related to the business- great! Or better yet, maybe he could gather his thoughts on running his business into a blog.

Note that this is not something that will take place overnight - one post and look at me I'm on Facebook'. It is going to take time. But that is just to say that the 'social' side of web 2.0 is just like the social side of being with people. We all have been in the situation where we meet someone who immediately tries to sell us something; if not, think of dating (or bad dating!) experiences.

So in response to the businessman, I might say, "what are you doing now to create a relationship with your clients based on authenticity and community?" Whatever he is doing now - can he do the same on the web? If so - spend time doing that. If he has a newsletter, convert it to a blog. If he sends out coupons, make them email coupons. If he has group client meetings, make them podcasts. That will make his time spent more useful.

If he is not doing any of those things already, then signing up for accounts on Facebook or Twitter won't do any good for him.

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