April 10, 2008
The Internet is changing and the changes are happening quickly. Luckily, the changes are in the favor of entrepreneurs, small businesses, authors, and small presses. Welcome to Web 2.0 and social media.
Learning about and utilizing these new tools and technologies is essential to establish a dynamic and truly connected Web presence. The beauty of Web 2.0 is that it is driven by the people who use it. Unlike today’s Internet, Web 2.0 relies more on a site’s popularity among the masses. Incorporating social media optimization alongside search engine optimization enables anyone to establish a truly optimized Web presence—especially if paired with a meaningful message.
The tools available to achieve this optimization are numerous but can seem overwhelming. However, once armed with a general knowledge, it is easy to select the tools and technologies to catalyze the greatest amount of Web traffic.
According to Wikipedia, Web 2.0 “refers to a perceived second-generation of web-based communities and hosted services—such as social-networking sites, wikis and folksonomies—which aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users.” Additionally, Wikipedia defines social media as “the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives. Social media sites typically use technologies such as blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs to allow users to interact.” Thus, Web 2.0 and social media optimization means optimizing one’s Web presence in three general ways: Interactivity, Sharing, and Collaboration.
The essential premise of social media is that information (media) offered to users will be interactive. Social, in a word, means interactive and interactivity can be accomplished in many ways, whether it is allowing readers to comment on or share content, subscribe to it so they can have it on hand, or display the content on their own site.
To make online content more interactive, Web 2.0 and social media users can implement these tools and technologies:
- Blogging, using WordPress or Typepad
- RSS Feeds (see Feedburner for more information on RSS feeds)
- Podcasting and Vidcasting
- Social Media News (Press) Releases
- Social Media Newsrooms
- Image tools such as Snapshots
Sharing in the “live” Web means that content is offered to others through blogging indexes and media communities; by tagging interesting sites on social bookmarking sites; or by developing mini applications like widgets or mash-ups.
Remember: Anything that can be posted to a Web site will have some type of “media community” in which to share it.
To begin “sharing” content in the live Web, Internet users can:
- Include their Blog, Podcast, or Vidcast in directories like Technorati, Google Blog Search, Podcast.com, or BlogPulse
- Tag their favorite blogs and Web sites on social bookmarking sites like Technorati and del.icio.us
- Share and tag multimedia in Media Communities like Flickr and YouTube
- Use Collage tools or Webcasting like SplashCast Media or blogTV
- Create and distribute Widgets or Mash-ups using services like widgetbox, Open Social, or Yahoo Pipes.
Web 2.0 and social media users need to be willing to give back. This could mean commenting regularly on others’ content, joining and contributing to a social networking site, contributing to crowd-sourced news sites, or becoming an avatar in a virtual reality.
Specifically, some of these efforts may include:
- Commenting on others’ blogs (using co.mments is a good way to track them)
- Contributing to crowd-sourced news aggregators like reddit, Digg, or Fark
- Creating profiles on social or professional networking sites like LinkedIn, MySpace, or Facebook
- Participating in microblogs like Twitter or Jaiku
- Posting events in social calendars such as eventful.com, or upcoming.org
- Becoming an avatar in a virtual world like Second Life or There
- Participating in communities or forums like a Yahoo group, a Google group, or starting your own using services like Ning.
Participating in the new, live Web is ultimately about connecting with people. A common mistake businesses make is to apply old methods to these new tools. It has been disastrous for many of them. With a real and conversational message and general understanding of the new social media tools and technologies, anyone can participate in the new Internet and find tremendous benefit from their efforts!
Deltina Hay is the principle of the companies DaltonPublishing.com and SocialMediaPower.com. She has worked in programming and Web development for 25 years. Ms. Hay’s graduate education includes computer science, applied mathematics, and psychology.