When you think of the Web 2.0 phenomenon, what words come to mind? Transparency, engagement, conversation, guru, apps, social networking, social media, social marketing… any of these sound familiar? Web 2.0 lingo has saturated articles, blog posts, tweets, and conversations across the web, but what does it all mean? And more importantly, how does it apply to the health and growth of your business? Thankfully, the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco helped to answer these questions in an applicable way, since it was “focused on ideas and solutions that will translate into real value and ultimately sales” (Bub.blicio.us). Here are a few valuable takeaways from the event:
1. Strategy is Paramount.
When running a business, it is smart to continually educate yourself on the latest trends and techniques that are being used in your sphere and beyond. However, this should not be confused with chasing after every new application or fad that comes along. Just because all the popular kids (aka. the “gurus” and “experts”) are playing with it, doesn’t mean that it’s right for your business. Before investing time and effort into this social network or that marketing technique, think for a minute about the old adage that wisely reminds us “time is money”. Research, establish goals, and define a strategy. Follow through with things that makes sense for your business and “eliminate all things that don’t contribute to progress”. See more on this topic at The Lean Startup Blog and here on Twitter.
2. Sales in Web 2.0 is Okay.
With the gospel of transparency and open communication spreading across the social web like wildfire, sales seem to have taken a back seat. Without a doubt, integrity, honesty, and conversation are important in business. But what about actually doing business? In the session, “S Factor: Why Sales Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word in Web 2.0“, Alastair Mitchell from Huddle.net explains that Web 2.0 has not replaced the need for a sales force, saying, “Web 2.0 can be used to more quickly build your user base, but not to replace a sales presence”. Perhaps this means separating your social networking efforts from your sales efforts, perhaps not. Whichever is the case for your business, sales need not be something you’re ashamed of. See the whole recap on this topic at the Huddle Blog.
3. Metrics are Vital for Success.
With a session title of “Become a Web 2.0 Metrics Jedi” and an opening slide photo of Yoda in pirate gear, it’s a wonder that anyone attended any other track that hour, and it did not disappoint. Do you create targeted landing pages, optimize your website for search engine success, and design your site for optimal attraction and conversion? If so, you’re on the right track… maybe. You can’t know for certain unless you have set goals and are analyzing the data on a regular basis. How many site visitors are clicking the “sign up” button on the main page compared with the one on the FAQ page? How many visitors are converting to paid customers? At which point in the process are they doing that? Is there a page on your website that has a much higher bounce rate than the rest? These questions will help you understand why you may or may not be reaching your goals, and having the systems in place to answer them is vital. Visit the 500 Hats Blog for a detailed slideshow and recap.
4. Online Advertising is Not Dead.
It is no secret that online advertising is becoming increasingly important as more people are searching and shopping online everyday. The argument lies in which type of advertising is most effective to online consumers and profitable to advertisers. With “ad blindness” affecting most online searchers (a term which describes the tendency of internet searchers to instinctively ignore banner and display ads), it was no surprise to hear that search type advertising is trending way up, just as CPM and CPC advertising is trending way down (JP Morgan 2008 Internet Investment Guide). This was music to our ears, since our ClassifiedFlyerAds service provides targeted search ads that are syndicated across the web. The session (titled “From AD-versity Comes Opportunity”) also predicted that a new type of advertising would surface in 2009-10 that would “fill the gap” between dispay ads and search ads. We’ll stay tuned.
5. More is Not Always Better.
With a theme of “The Power of Less”, the Web 2.0 Expo aimed to convince internet users that more apps, more features, more blog posts, more pictures, more video, more anything, is not always better. Don’t launch a new feature just to launch a new feature; make sure it adds value and solves a problem. On that note, the Lean Startup Session suggested that we ask ourselves these two questions before adding “more”: 1) “What problem are we solving for the customer?”, and 2) “How are we solving it?”. If you cannot answer these questions, perhaps it is not time to add that great new thing after all.
With courses covering four days and eight different topics, there was certainly no shortage of valuable information for businesses at the San Francisco Web 2.0 Expo, much more in fact, than we were able to take in on our own. Check out the recap page, twitter stream, and follow-up news coverage for all of the mind dizzying Web 2.0 advice you can handle.