As Web 2.0 pulls the rug out from under news distribution monopolies, its interactive element will likely tune in millions more online users.
Not only are more people using the Internet each year (currently 1.17 billion globally, up 225 per cent from 2000), people are naturally drawn by its increasingly interactive nature. The opportunity to participate, even if not acted on, is engaging in itself.
Indeed, Web 2.0 allows users to discuss and influence precisely what’s near and dear to their hearts.
Media giants and corporations have to respect this. All those minuscule voices abruptly gain volume on the Web, creating forces to be reckoned with. In fact, these ‘Web 2.0 packs’ produce so much weight, they can virtually sink a product or business in a matter of hours. They can also make them astoundingly successful.
CNET’s George Colony discusses in his blog how CEOs need to acknowledge Web 2.0’s transparency and recognize the new reality: “you don’t own your customer; your customer owns you.”
No doubt, in the new age of collaboration, consumers are no longer disengaged and forced to sit on the sidelines. Online communities are revolutionizing how media, business, management and government deal with the outside world. There’s more communication on a peer-to-peer level versus the traditional talk-down-to manner.
The most clever and alert organizations are catching on to the fact that Web 2.0 allows masses to pool resources and create value. Take Coca-Cola for instance. As highlighted by Richard MacManus, Coca-Cola’s Polish website fosters community involvement. It asks visitors, “What do you desire?” and encourages people to share goals and achievements.
Even IBM has warmed up to social networking, building tools to bring Web 2.0 and online communities into corporations.
As for news giants, they aren’t just telling people what to think anymore. They too have to partake in Web 2.0 to stay relevant. While increasing opportunities for feedback and viewpoints, they are establishing deeper roots with existing readers and expanding their reach.
YouTube and MySpace are currently leading the movement, but others will follow, and then take the lead. And, as more organizations get bitten by the Web 2.0 bug, more people will get infected and become engaged, curious and keen to charter unexplored territory.
There’s no denying, Web 2.0 is contagious.