Today’s guest post is written by web 2.0 and social media consultant, Derrick Sorles of Business Blogging Consultants. We are happy to welcome him to Consulting Success as a guest contributor. In this post Derrick breaks down the world of web 2.0 and then gives us some solid strategies for working on our “web presence”.
>> Read Derrick’s full bio here
I’m often asked “What the heck is Web 2.0 anyway and should I care?” Web 2.0 has become a commonly used term that many of us has heard used or seen in print but really don’t know what it means, its implications or the opportunities it presents. Here is my basic answer to the question and what I believe important for all of us to grasp.
According to Wikipedia, Web 2.0 is a phrase coined by O’Reilly Media in 2004 referring to a perceived second generation of Web development and design that facilitates communication, secure information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of Web-based communities, hosted services, and applications; such as social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis (Web pages designed to enable anyone with access to contribute or modify content), blogs, and folksonomies (also known as collaborative tagging, social classification, social indexing, and social tagging). O’Reilly Media, in collaboration with MediaLive International, used the phrase as a title for a series of conferences, and since 2004 the term has been widely adopted.
Tim O’Reilly provided a compact definition of Web 2.0 in 2006:
“Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. Chief among those rules is this: Build Web applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.”
Having said all that, I will also note that there are critics who say that we have since evolved and are now in Web 5.0 or Web 8.0. In my opinion, whatever term we use to title it is not what’s most important. What we all need to accept and understand is that a life-changing-shift has occurred and Web 2.0 is the most commonly used term to define where and how this power shift from Web 1.0 has changed our world forever.
To begin a basic understanding of the term’s characteristics and highlight the primary areas of change, most people have found this list of Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 Power Shifters simple and effective. Many of us right away can begin to relate to how we live, work and play differently thanks to:
- Laptops and other mobile devices, especially mobile phones and their advanced capabilities
- Digital images, movies, books, music and endless up-to-the-minute information
- Email, photo and video sharing, communities and networks of family, friends, and colleagues or just with other people, local or worldwide, we share a common interest with
- Internet marketing
- Online publishing
Web 1.0 was a much more expensive and limiting sandbox to play in. We paid more as consumers because we had less choices and little influence. Print/display advertising and websites were limited to those businesses who could afford the hefty investment. We had all this information being “pushed” at us, whether we wanted it or not, and had few venues to validate what we were being told or to have our voices and opinions read or heard by masses of other people. Reaching out to touch someone was cumbersome and time consuming.
My goal as a contributor to this site is to help you as readers, especially consultants and business owners, understand the opportunities this Web 2.0 shift in power presents and how to best leverage them to generate new opportunities and revenue.
To create a framework for us to build upon, let’s start with what I believe to be the most crucial Web 2.0 topics for any individual or business – transparency and findability. When I’m working with a new client, this is always where we begin and here is why. The keyword search ability of sites like Google have changed the way we get our information, the way we make our decisions and how we conduct business.
If I’m searching someone’s name or the name of a business, I always do it in “closed quotes” because that means it has to appear online in that exact order and so the search results are less diluted. If I am searching for you or your business by name I’m most likely either trying to find/contact you (existing customer very often) or gather more information (usually someone you have “pushed” your information to). So, I ask “Can they find you and what will they find?”
When your name is searched, can you find a link reference in the first couple of pages that references you? Fortunately, no one shares my name and it is unlikely they will anytime soon but imagine the difference possibilities if my last name was Smith. If you find a link reference, what is it attached to? Is it positive or negative?
Let’s address The negative first. I’ve had clients who when searched for online show up with link references to arrests, unpaid fines or child support, negative publicity, complaints from customers or links to sites like MySpace or Facebook that do not portray them in a positive or professional manner. Once out there, it is usually there to stay unfortunately.
On the other hand, let’s say there are references to your business website, or to a company whose board you serve, or an article you published or were quoted in, etc. Maybe you can’t be found at all. Same thing when your business name is searched. What exactly is showing up? The good news is that my Top 3 recommended strategies to build your “Web presence” in a positive light are the same for any of the scenarios mentioned.
1. Create profiles in social communities and networking sites.
And the more, the better! LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Ecademy, Ryze, Naymz, Plaxo and StumbleUpon just to name a few proven favorites. These sites are free to have profiles on and have huge search engine pull, appearing on page one of search results quickly, which is especially good if you have no presence at all or are trying to push back any negative references. You decide how much time and energy you want to invest and where you think you’ll get the most ROI. For example, my time spent leveraging, optimizing and networking on LinkedIn has consistently generated some terrific speaking and publishing opportunities, but even better, real revenue in consulting work – so that is where I invest my time. Maybe the best fit is Twitter or Facebook for you and your business – you won’t know until you start getting out there.
2. Article submission sites. Creating original content and repurposing existing content (text, audio, video) to be distributed on the Internet is a surefire way to increase your findability factor. Let’s take text for example. What have you written (white papers, industry article, something from a company newsletter) or could write to share with the world that would be of interest to others and demonstrates your knowledge, expertise and credibility? My top three article submission sites are Ezine, GoArticles and ISnare. You create a profile, upload your content and others share your articles on their sites. Make sure you really make the title catchy, something to peak interest. Once your article is picked up and republished, no alterations can be made and it must include a signature line giving you author credit and a link reference, if applicable. I’ve found online publishers love numbered lists of tips, best practices, helpful hints, mistakes to avoid, etc. and these are relatively quick and easy to put together as the author.
3. Start a blog. Start a blog. Start a blog. Okay, so before you start a blog plan to do some research online to avoid the most common blunders and mistakes. I define blogs as the most effective, affordable, misunderstood and underutilized websites available today. Somehow they just got a bad wrap as being online journals and that’s what many people I encounter consider them to be. Well they could be that if you wanted, but they could also be a dynamic online newsletter, or magazine if you will, used alongside your static website about what’s happening right now in your industry; current news, trends, best practices, sales strategies, FAQ’s, how to’s…and so on. We are no longer tied with a ball and chain to a webmaster to have a website or Web presence. Blogging software is so user friendly and inexpensive (even free) and as easy as drafting emails or creating Word documents. Blogs are the perfect complement to your findability factor efforts. In my next article, we’ll explore in depth how blogs are different than websites, why that is such a good thing and how they can bring you new revenue and opportunities through keyword search.