blogs and social networking
Blogs and social networks have grown in popularity in recent years - should you be getting into them?
Blog, blog, blog
A blog is a special website where you publish thoughts and invite people to reply, or not if you prefer. Many people have one to improve their search engine rankings because they create lots of pages of fresh content full of keywords. However, they are of little use if you don't have the time or inclination to fill them with interesting copy.
Of course blogs go much further than forums by providing tools to share information, plus they are so popular that major search engines provide options to search blogs separately to websites. Many companies opt for a static brochure website, then have a blog added or integrated and styles to match the website.
Getting talked about in blogs
There is little doubt that product reinforcement in popular blogs drives traffic to your website. There are specialist services that can do this for you however, you should be aware that there is a growing pressure through legislation to make this subject to advertising standards. Bloggers may need to declare a financial interest if they have written about you for any payment or payment in kind. JeliNet does not offer this service.
There are more positive opportunities with social networking - particularly if you need to create online communities. Charities in particular benefit from networks such as Facebook where support groups can greatly aid your cause. Social networking is like going out for the night - you need to go to the most popular spot to meet the most people!
Some 'businesses' such as bands, musicians, artists etc, thrive in social networks and I encourage that. However, I see many businesses assume they have to have a presence on Facebook to grow. This is not always the case. It's a bit like going to a party on a Friday night and trying to drum up business . . . sure you can do it, but you need to be careful you are not damaging your image by alienating an audience.
Viral marketing is vitally important for some products and social networks are ideal to spread your brand - especially if you are in the entertainment or liesure industries or the arts.
The term is here to stay but it's a marketing one that is a bit of a misnomer. Web 1.0 (not that it was called that!) was created for ordinary folks to be able to publish text and images to world using simple HTML code. They only needed to learn about 9 simple tags to publish a web page and one special tag to link them together. Anyone could learn it - but it created pretty dull pages. So, the graphic designers got involved and websites rapidly got a lot more complicated. By the mid 1990's ordinary folks couldn't create good looking websites without a lot of knowledge and expensive software.
To put website publishing back into the hands of non-techie people, highly sophisticated sites like Wordpress, Myspace, Bebo and then Facebook had to be developed. Behind the scenes they are incredibly complicated. The big irony of MySpace was that users could style their pages using basic HTML the very code in 'Web 1.0' - and did so in their millions with mixed results. For a while Web 2.0 was also about being able to view the internet on mobile devices. Then mobile devices acquired bigger screens and smarter browsers so they could catch up with the existing net.
So, Web 2.0 is nothing new, it's just the latest realisation of the original idea of the internet as a free publishing environment for everyone. Now we read of Web 3.0 - from a technical view point it's evolutionary, not revolutionary. Most websites will continue to be built the same way and do the same job. The change will be how search engines and browsers interact with the web making it more relevant for the user.