Web 2.0 - the new market opportunity
Web 2.0 - the second generation of web-based services and communities that emphasise online collaboration, networking and user-created content - is growing at a phenomenal rate. A recent study by Booz Allen Hamilton, the global strategy and IT consulting firm, shows just how prevalent this interactive consumer behaviour has become and, at the same time, puts to rest any notion that 'average people' don't read blogs or use wikis.
Flying in the face of the seemingly challenged corporate world who continue NOT to embrace the new order of Web 2.0, the study found that 50 per cent of all internet users frequenting social media sites, and more than half of the visitors to MySpace, the notoriously youth-oriented social networking site, are actually 25 or older.
The one thing that should be capturing the imagination of the corporate managers is the widescale use of blogs, wikis, podcasts and other online pit stops for consumers to share their opinions about products, services, and the behaviour of companies. What this means for business is not always clear, but most senior executives have a sense that the organisations must respond to this shift in power.
The BAH study, like many others, point to three fundamental shifts as a consequence of this new technological power play: firstly, Web 2.0 means that organisations are no longer in sole control of their message; secondly, that Web 2.0 is fragmenting their marketing channels; and thirdly, that Web 2.0 offers the consumer a real channel to voice their opinion.
But this isn't all about threats. There's a flip slide for those corporates that have the imagination and the business agility to respond. Web 2.0 also offers companies limitless opportunities for direct engagement with their customers. Fragmentation has its upside - offering access to clearly defined demographic groups. And access to these channels comes at a fraction of the cost of more traditional media channels. Web 2.0 also allows organisations to respond directly to any criticism. Rather than ignoring criticism, or even fearing it, organisations should seize the initiative and use Web 2.0 to respond in the most direct way.
NCC Head of Content and Publishing and Content
(ITadviser, Issue 55, Autumn 2008)
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