Jay Deragon is considered one of the premier entrepreneurial thought leaders in the dynamic social networking space and the emerging industry of social media. His blog – http://www.relationship-economy.com serves as a reference point for the emerging industry of social networks and is read by thousands each month and is referenced throughout the social web. He is a noted speaker and is working with numerous Fortune 500 companies to help them effectively define and implement their virtual strategies for use of the social web as a new median for marketing and influence.
While managing my previous business venture, Four Elements, LLC. I had the chance to sit down and interview Mr. Deragon. The topic of the interview is web 2.0 and how both entrepreneurs and established professionals can leverage its power.
How would you define Web 2.0?
Tim Oreilly defines Web 2.0 best: The bursting of the dot-com bubble in the fall of 2001 marked a turning point for the web. Many people concluded that the web was overhyped, when in fact bubbles and consequent shakeouts appear to be a common feature of all technological revolutions. Shakeouts typically mark the point at which an ascendant technology is ready to take its place at center stage. The pretenders are given the bum’s rush, the real success stories show their strength, and there begins to be an understanding of what separates one from the other.
The concept of “Web 2.0″ began with a conference brainstorming session between O’Reilly and MediaLive International. Dale Dougherty, web pioneer and O’Reilly VP, noted that far from having “crashed”, the web was more important than ever, with exciting new applications and sites popping up with surprising regularity. What’s more, the companies that had survived the collapse seemed to have some things in common. Could it be that the dot-com collapse marked some kind of turning point for the web, such that a call to action such as “Web 2.0″ might make sense? We agreed that it did, and so the Web 2.0 Conference was born.
In the year and a half since, the term “Web 2.0″ has clearly taken hold, with more than 9.5 million citations in Google. But there’s still a huge amount of disagreement about just what Web 2.0 means, with some people decrying it as a meaningless marketing buzzword, and others accepting it as the new conventional wisdom.
This article is an attempt to clarify just what we mean by Web 2.0.
In our initial brainstorming, we formulated our sense of Web 2.0 by example:
Web 1.0 Web 2.0
DoubleClick –> Google AdSense
Ofoto –> Flickr
Akamai –> BitTorrent
mp3.com –> Napster
Britannica Online –> Wikipedia
personal websites –> blogging
evite –> upcoming.org and EVDB
domain name speculation –> search engine optimization
page views –> cost per click
screen scraping –> web services
publishing –> participation
content management systems –> wikis
directories (taxonomy) –> tagging (“folksonomy”)
stickiness –> syndication
The list went on and on. But what was it that made us identify one application or approach as “Web 1.0″ and another as “Web 2.0″? (The question is particularly urgent because the Web 2.0 meme has become so widespread that companies are now pasting it on as a marketing buzzword, with no real understanding of just what it means. The question is particularly difficult because many of those buzzword-addicted startups are definitely not Web 2.0, while some of the applications we identified as Web 2.0, like Napster and BitTorrent, are not even properly web applications!) We began trying to tease out the principles that are demonstrated in one way or another by the success stories of web 1.0 and by the most interesting of the new applications.
1. The Web As Platform
Like many important concepts, Web 2.0 doesn’t have a hard boundary, but rather, a gravitational core. You can visualize Web 2.0 as a set of principles and practices that tie together a veritable solar system of sites that demonstrate some or all of those principles, at a varying distance from that core.
Figure 1 shows a “meme map” of Web 2.0 that was developed at a brainstorming session during FOO Camp, a conference at O’Reilly Media. It’s very much a work in progress, but shows the many ideas that radiate out from the Web 2.0 core.
My Personal Perspective
While there are many different definitions of Web 2.0 I would simply call it the emergence of the interactive web, which empowers the individual. Empowering individuals to speak out, collaborate and create innovative solutions to everyday business problems. The power of today’s web is creating a revolutionary change in society, business and government. Call it whatever you want, Web 2.0, Social Media, Social Networking or even Web 3.0 the impact is truly historical and the wave of change is just beginning.
What is the benefit of Web 2.0 tools for entrepreneurs?
Here’s a startling statistic for entrepreneurs: nearly half of today’s small businesses don’t have a website. A survey by CNN Money revealed that 46 percent of America’s 25 million small businesses have no online presence. The report suggested that business owners fear a large price tag for website development and hosting, despite the abundant, contrary evidence that inexpensive do-it-yourself website solutions are readily available.
The advantages of having even a simple, static website without eCommerce capabilities are legion. A website offers customers a round-the-clock opportunity to view your products and services, your contact information, and detailed visual proof that you’re better than your competitors. In an era where buyers, suppliers, and consumers can buy, sell, and track orders from a web-enabled cell phone, it’s poor business sense to work without a digital net.
Here are four key benefits from using Web 2.0 for Entrepreneurs:
Visibility and Search: With proper optimization of a blog or presence on social networks, targeted audience of consumers are sent your way via a number of search engines. Search engine optimization enables any business to identify its specific offerings, whether it provides them through online sales or just posts pictures and descriptions online with an ordering phone number or printable form.
Public Relations and Marketing: Think of a blog as an extended business card. A simple, attractive blog builds credibility, loyalty, and word-of-mouth promotions. People send web links to their business associates, family, and friends.
Say More and Talk Less: Engaging throughout the social web and using social media is the art of conversations. These days, shoppers make their decisions online–then they reach for the telephone. If your business does not have a presence, is not engaged in social conversations and is not using Web 2.0 then you will not be seen or found.
Customer Development: If you use the tools effectively then you can develop customer relations, existing and new. The social web is an art and science.
Many people ask how using social media can add value to their business. Many individuals spend lots of time writing blogs that talk about social media. The media reports on the increased adoption of social media and businesses are now migrating towards the medium as a means to market their propositions.
There is Friendfeed, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and a host of other platforms and tools for social conversations and user generated content. To say the least the space is very confusing and crowded if not overwhelming for those just entering and trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. While all these conversations stir interest few focus on the critical elements required to effectively leverage the art and science of social media for specific gains.
Based on an analysis of the most popular blogs and communities we’ve identified four driving factors to their success. Success being defined by the growing attraction of the content/author, the number of consistent viewers , ratio of post to comments and the viral distribution and referencing of the blogs content throughout the social web. The four driving factors are:
- Attention: Businesses and individuals are using the tools of the social web to garner attention from specific consumer markets of interest to the audience and the business. Attention does not come from advertising rather relevant content and commentary by a credible audience.
- Attraction: To keep people’s attention a focus on design, content and utility are the elements which create stickiness which indicates attractiveness. The art of combining design, content and utility is not something available in a playbook rather much is learned by trial and error. Media, in the form of text, images, video and audio are the tools used to create attraction combined with unique content.
- Affinity: Content, design and community are the attributes of creating affinity to the proposition and the users of the online community. Unless the conversations related to the user’s needs or interest the attraction is lost because the users find little affinity to the conversations.
- Audience: Once 1, 2 & 3 are accomplished then you have an audience to provide continuous value propositions in order to reinforce 1, 2 & 3. The cycle is demanding and the art and science is ever evolving. Unless your actively involved, experimenting and engaging with the audience you cannot learn what gets their attention, creates the attraction, develops the affinity and thus creating your audience.
There is an abundance of social technology available for anyone to use. Technology is the science of distributed conversations that enables reach. The art of using the technology is the critical element that doesn’t come naturally. Developing the “art” of social media comes over time when one focuses on the basics of human interaction centric to conversations that are relevant to specific subject matters, which draws people and business. A lot to learn and more to understand. One last thing. It isn’t going away, it isn’t a fad rather it is the evolution of human dynamics.
What are the ten best web 2.0 tools?
Tough question since there are thousands of tools to choose from and everyday the space introducing new tools for different purposes. However, for starters I would suggest a beginner must have the following:
- A blog
- Use of Widgets
- Presence in the top social networks
- A Twitter account
- Use of numerous Google Tools, i.e. Googe Readers etc
- Participation in the top community sites that have an affinity to their business
- Business Weeks Business Exchange
- Lots of time and a good advisor to coach you through the maze of options
How helpful are web 2.0 tools when creating an SEO strategy?
Web 2.0 tools, properly configured and used, are critical to increasing presence. Presence comes from being found and being seen. SEO is simply the means for insuring your activity is registered and recognized on the web. Web 2.0 tools are like steroids for SEO and use of the tools only insures increased presence. Most all the relative Web 2.0 tools are integrated with SEO and thus assures proper visibility.
How do you see web 2.0 evolving over the next 5 years?
Web 2.0 as we know it today will be obsolete and replaced with more intelligent and robust technology that will fuel further changes in marketing, communications and all business models we know today. Seamless communications and publishing instantaneously on a global scale with “smart agents” will enable more people to do more with less. Social commerce will emerge as the new economy of trade. Integrated communications and broadcasting will replace all existing mediums and significantly disrupt business as usual. Business leaders, both small and large corporation, will have to adapt to life and commerce being primarily influenced by virtual environments and elements. Think about what the TV did to civilization 50 years ago. It took decades for the TV to penetrate the masses. The internet, all these social tools, are advancing daily and the global adoption rate surpasses anything ever experienced previously. History is truly being made and the disruptive nature of these advances makes it difficult for anyone to sti still and or claim what tomorrow will be like accept to say things will change dramatically.
Do you think we are in the midst of another bubble?
A bubble typically refers to economic growth suddenly being deflated. In terms of Web 2.0 the essence of the emergence has nothing to do with economic gains in the traditional sense. Rather the essence is a shift in communications and attention. Communications and attention are critical elements of any economy and it advances any economy. The irony of Web 2.0 is that most of the tools are free. The critical element of using the tools for economic gain has to do with creativity, innovation and knowledge. The bubble is more of disruption of the status quo for traditional media, businesses and human interaction with individuals and the masses. The outcomes do in fact impact economics but the process is not economically driven rather the driving force is human relations intersecting to technological advancement.