Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 78 - What you need to know about Web 2.0

Web 2.0, also known as social media marketing, is the term used to describe the second generation of the Internet. In this second wave, you don’t have to be tech savvy to create an Internet presence. Anyone can do it. And, if you are in business in 2009, you have to be online. There is no choice.

As any smart business person will tell you, you want to be wherever the buyers are. Right now, there is a massive wave of people moving onto social media sites. So, that is where businesses think they have to be to connect with prospective buyers. But just dropping the net (pun intended) in the right water doesn’t mean you're going to “catch” anything. Corporate America now needs the people and technology to create a functional online presence that translates to sales success. Do you know how to connect? If you do, and especially if you’re currently studying social media trends, you are gaining a highly marketable skill. For students (of any age) who are about to enter or re-enter the job market, Web 2.0 is as important to you as any class you'll ever take.

Social networking is merely at the beginning of its development. However, it is growing more sophisticated every day. Huge companies like Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Target have established a presence on social networking sites, and they've also shown small business owners that opportunities exist for them. Web 2.0 has effectively leveled the playing field. It's essentially free and you don't need much technical skill to participate in this game. I think it's time for all of us to start paying closer attention to the ways Web 2.0 is changing our work and our lives.

Social media marketing is the revolution that is changing the way business is done. Business owners are learning to leverage the Internet to attract new consumers. But how many of these new social marketers are doing it well? Go to any social networking site and you will find examples of companies that do not get it. They plaster their replicated corporate websites everywhere without ever “branding” themselves or creating an experience for the people who live on these sites. They pitch you their products and services without creating any added value for the user. As a student, I am learning that the time to understand branding is now. YOU are your most valuable commodity, and learning to create value is the new name of the game. How do you do this? Easy, by offering helpful content and being a real person.

Have you started your own website, blog, wiki or Facebook Group yet? Do you write product reviews or contribute to online discussion forums?

Imagine a cocktail party in a great big room, filled with interesting people. There are many conversations all happening at once. People are talking about themselves, asking questions about whomever they are conversing with and so on. Soon, a common thread is discovered. Something changes when people learn what they have in common. That's when the conversation gets lively. That is how people connect.

It’s no different when you, your company or a brand enters the social media. Forget the old broadcast methods of marketing and communications. For instance, here on my blog, I talk about what I’m studying and learning, and issues that I think may be pertinent to others like me. I sometimes talk about myself and what matters to me, but not constantly. If I start trying to sell you things (I know this because I tried), then you will tune out or find the nearest exit.

Straight marketing doesn’t work at a cocktail party or on Facebook, a blog or any social media venue.

If you want to become part of the community or build brand loyalty, then do so exactly as you would do it offline. Mix and mingle. Share things you have an interest or expertise in. Share your connections and give your attention freely. Before you know it, you’ll be the life of the party and the people you connect with will be ready to listen!

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