People are always asking for a definition of Web 2.0. Wikipedia defines it as “Web 2.0 is a term describing the trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users.”
I will simply state that Web 2.0 is about <---1Xto1X---> way communication, this is not limited to people, but also to software and websites.
I will break down some Web 2.0 tools into four different trends:
Social Networks (in its simplest form think of a blog VS a Wiki. A blog tends to be more “1”, a Wicki is “Many”)
Some of the more prominent examples are Facebook,MySpace, and LinkedIn –“Social Networks” (SN). These SN’s allow users to communicate and collaborate amongst peers, based on a shared passion, or vertical. There are family SN’s Cozi (Cozi allows families to share items like pictures,calenders, “to do” lists,etc ). There are Professional SN’s such as LinkedIn and Xing. There are even services that allow you to build your own SN such as Ning. How might you use a social network? On a personal level, perhaps you might use one for your child's little league team. It could play host to the teams little league stats, pics and videos of games, discussions about that “great catch the other night”, team schedules and much more. For your brand, you might use it to allow your customers to be treated more like employees. Customers could use your brands SN to share there opinions (good and BAD) about your product, share ideas about your product, hold contests related to your product, help you name your product, and more. The results for you? More *buzz* for your brand, perhaps a better name for your product (why not use the Power of Crowds to name your next product), customers that feel a connection to your brand, a captive audience with which you can more easily get your message across, and more.
Openness - Convergence
For software and websites/services and *coming soon* CONTENT Web 2.0 is about convergence, collaboration, co-opertition,Mashups, APIs and most importantly Openness . This new convergence of technologies allows you to build brand new businesses (or revenue streams) that would not have been possible otherwise. A great example is IMnearby.com, it can only exist because a confluence of technology being used together … GPS (location aware), Smart Phones, Internet, and an SN. Another working example that has had tremendous success is Mozilla’s Firefox browser… by being “open”, Firefox has attracted thousands of developers who write code for free, increase productivity of the browser, introduce new features that even Mozilla might not have thought of, get features to market more quickly, for less cost,etc. This “ecosystem” lends itself to being viral, as each developer in turn markets their products (plugins & toolbars), they drive further promotion and adoption of the Firefox browser.
Power of Crowds
If the expression “Two heads are better than one” makes sense, then imagine what 1,000,000 heads could accomplish when brought together. 1M people could predict outcomes more accurately, design a better car, come up with the best name for your product or business, and much more. Expect to see CrowdSourcing as a major player in “nextgen” website/web service winners.
User Generated Content
Want to scale fast? Get lots and lots of content online for search engines and your users? Why not let others do the work for you? Yelp gets it, almost 100% of their content (reviews/local/restaurant/etc) is generated by their users. This has allowed them to blow right by 'content controlled' services like citysearch . LinkedIn has a TON of user generated content in their LinkedIn Answers ... One day, this will (could) be large enough to be a stand alone business for them. NYTIMES (see my recent post) gets it, as they now allow users to mashup,share,participate and add content on their new interactive service. What are YOU waiting for? Let your users work for you!