You might remember when people like Darcy DiNucci and Tim O’Reilly started to use the term Web 2.0 to describe the trend of user-generated content taking over the clearnet. While it was certainly a popular word, it didn’t really refer to any one single thing. It never really denoted a formal change to the web’s structure and simply called to mind that the way people created content was changing.
Even if you don’t remember those distant days, there’s a good chance they’ll come back to you the first time you hear somebody elucidate on the issue of so-called Social Media 2.0 services. These are supposed to be focused almost exclusively on users as opposed to businesses, which would be quite a disruptive force considering how much companies have come to rely on social networks to promote a message. Nevertheless, it’s every bit as likely that these promises are essentially vaporware that refer more to nebulous concepts as opposed to any real change.
Strong opinions on either side of the issue seem to be shaping the debate.
Defining What Social Media 2.0 Really Is
As you might expect, it isn’t easy to get a single answer about what this term really means at the end of the day. Some people are talking about a rehumanization of social networking, which would essentially be a return to communication as opposed to aggregating the greatest number of likes and votes on a particular post. This is, of course, an admirable goal even if it happens to be one that will probably frustrate certain individuals in the Internet marketing niche.
Rage posting tends to dominate social networking because posts are ranked largely based on how popular they are. When people say controversial or upsetting things, they suddenly get an audience. Assuming that a sufficient number of people are bothered, they might even be deplatformed, which in turn could cause posts related to the initial issue to soar in popularity as people debate the ethics of removing somebody.
Assuming that administrators don’t go overboard with the use of their ban hammer powers, this will continue to frame debates for some time even after the initial problem has gone away. Refocusing social media post rankings on something other than popularity, or using an alliterative system based on topic and friend circle, could help to alleviate this issue to a large degree. In this way, text-only social sites would seem more like written versions of video conferencing apps.
Surprisingly, this could be better for some small business owners looking to get their message out.
Getting Out a Message in a Quieter Environment
Companies have to resort to the digital equivalent of yelling in order to get noticed as a result of all of the virtual noise on every major social site. Rehumanizing social networks would give them the freedom to connect solely with those who would potentially be interested in a message. In this way, they might even find a receptive audience without looking for it.
Naturally, they’d have to refocus their own efforts to present a more human environment themselves. Companies that do events planning or work in the hospitality industry would have to create a client booking form for each individual program they hosted while also providing self-service calendars and many other widgets designed to help consumers feel more independent. Once they did, however, they might find that people are far more receptive to them than they ever had been in the past.
On the other hand, however, there’s an equal chance that many of these promises will never come to fruition at all.
Social Media 2.0’s Downfall
New legislation, like that being discussed in Canada, is designed with the rehumanization of social networking in mind. This could help to spur on organizational changes when it comes to the way that people use social sites. However, it’s equally likely that many of these lofty goals are actually being promoted as echoes of earlier promises regarding blogging spun up more by site operators than by individuals truly taking an interest in changing the world.
Whether or not Social Media 2.0 is a real trend that’s going to help people communicate just as freely as they once did remains to be seen. However, what is true is that small business owners can take the opportunity now to focus on human-driven messages that can help them connect with clients who might otherwise have never really warmed up to what they usually see getting posted on their social media apps.