In the first version of the web, content was generated by companies and distributed to the consumer as advertisement freebies that brought the public to your site to tout your brand or convince them to buy your products and services. The return was the hope the consumer would buy those products and services directly from your site or affiliated sites.
So the goal was traffic, to get enough people to buy. You invested in websites and servers to TELL. The Web 2.0, in my opinion, is best referred to as a Mash-up
. The point is user-generated content and user control of other content. With the advent of self-publishing and the tools to connect and filter information, user communities are making content their own, whether that's combining music and video on YouTube or just forwarding good commercials to all of their friends and family. Web 2.0 is often referred to as freedom, but its really just the freedom to use content in anyway we see fit.
The latest generation of users doesn't see anything wrong with appropriating intellectual content, from music downloads to images on google to term papers, and many companies and industries rightly see this as a threat. The intellectual capital and money they spend on marketing controls their message, and when users take that content, or create their own, companies are left out of the message making business.
The problem in combatting the freedom is the people you're cracking down on aren't distributors of content, but the very customers you hope to convince to buy your product. You can sue a teenager for downloading your song, but how does that help you convince the teenager to ever buy one of your albums again? Copying CD's and selling them in China is one thing, but telling a kid who downloaded a song that he owes thousands to a music company isn't going to win you any new customers.
The point is to begin embracing the new use of content, making it easier to swap, forward, and edit, so that consumers have the choice of what they would do with your content. Give them easy access so they don't feel the need to go around you. Learn to work with them, so their creative energies are a positive addition to your marketing, and not a hindrance.
Afterall, this public that wants to create their own content still wants to buy more. And they need the tools and creativity of the corporations. So tap into the their energy, their free work, their unbilled hours, and help build online communities around your products, services, and industries. It costs less, gives you more, and allows you to participate ahead of your
competitors. It protects you when you're online, allows you to respond and listen, and is the essence of Web 2.0.
After all, most of it is free. Rather than fighting that freeness, use it. These people who create their own content often work as drones at corporations, never using their potential - but then going home and setting up charities, organizing youth sports leagues, building homes, plannig vacations, and using the web to connect online.
Why is it people will see work as a chore, but a blog, or a user group as a labor of love? Much of it has to do with the concept of ownership, but in the end, it doesn't matter. Tapping into their work, you can help pick, choose, and filter the best ideas, the ones best suited for your industry, and utilize their desires and work to make your products better, promote them more, and if you do it now, get the first truly publicity as a company that gets it. As a company that gets Web 2.0.
Web 2.0 is about community. It's about assembling, filtering, and combining. Companies that will succeed will do so by LISTENING, and providing a platform or portal for their product evangelists. Like a good leader, the smart Web 2.0 companies will get out of the way of the marketing efforts of their best customers.