Web 2.0 primer for Marketers

Podcasting, blogging, feed burning, UGC..if all the jargon flying around has got you scratching your head, you are not alone. I started compiling this cheat sheet, when I was researching online technologies for effective Marketing, including Web 2.0 tools. I hope you find it useful as well. I will keep updating this blog with more useful links and content as I find them.

I am planning to follow up this primer with a how-to on getting started with Web 2.0 tools.

The AMA Marketing News (January Issue) has also put together a neat little introduction on Web 2.0 tools ‘Get Clued In’ , which covers some of the same basics listed below, but in much more detail.

Let’s start with the most commonly used tools:

RSS or Really Simple Syndication: It’s a great way to get updated information from your selected sources. If you like ABC blog and want to know as soon as it’s updated, sign up for that blog’s RSS feed. How to do it? Click on the RSS feed button on your select site. You can set up a RSS feed on your own website or blog, so people can get to your content as soon you release it. But you will need a RSS/News Aggregators or a Reader that will download and display RSS feeds for you. A number of free and commercial News Aggregators are available for download. Both Yahoo! and Google let you add the feeds to your personalized homepage.

The Good: Marketers can use RSS to gather information as well as to send information to interested customers.
The Bad: Your customers have to sign up for your RSS feeds in order for this to work. In other words, you can’t force them to read your content.
The Ugly: All the information can be overwhelming, so you have to be savvy in managing your feeds.

Want to learn more? Read my post ‘RSS Demystified’

Weblogs or Blogs:
In case you didn’t notice, you are reading one right now. Blog is like a journal, the big difference is that your blog can be on any topic, it’s online, and you can connect to millions of other blogs on similar topics. You can comment on these blogs and others can comment on what you have written, thereby creating an interactive communication. The combined community of bloggers is called the blogosphere. If you are an aspiring blogger check out Darren Rowse’s blog on pro-blogging for lots of cool tips and advice.

The Good: Blogs are an excellent relationship building tool. You can interact with your customers  directly and give them information that’s relevant to them.
The Bad: You have to keep it interesting and make sure it’s updated regularly or else your audience will lose interest.
The Ugly: What you write can be used against you or your company. So be careful about what you blog.

Vlogs are the digital video version of the written blogs. These blogs have videos and minimal text.

The Good: Great way to increase interactivity and keep it interesting.
The Bad: Creation and editing of video may be time consuming.
The Ugly: Slow download times and technical compatibility may hinder adoption.

This refers to broadcasting of media files that be downloaded to any portable device and that can be played at the user’s convenience. Traditionally podcasts referred to audio files but also recently have started including video files.

The Good: Great way to encourage consumption of your message.
The Bad: Creation, editing of these media files still requires some technical savvy. Although, it has become easier with the introduction of more user-friendly tools.
The Ugly: The quality had better be good or else your users will flee.

And lastly, phenomenon known as Social Networking Media and UGC:
This refers to the online social (people) collaboration that Web 2.0 has enabled. Websites like MySpace, Orkut, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn are all examples of sites that allow sharing of content among users. UGC refers to another cornerstone of the Web 2.0 revolution and that is User Generated Content, which as the name describes is content created by the users. There are a growing number of corporations who are using social platforms like YouTube for recruitment, PR damage control, etc. A good example is this video by the JetBlue CEO and founder.

The Good: These are true online collaboration platforms, where you can connect, share, communicate with like-minded individuals around the world.
The Bad: Although some of these have become an universal phenomenon such as YouTube, it’s still a niche audience, may or may not be an appropriate medium to pitch your products and services.
The Ugly: There is a lot of good content on these websites, but there are also many bad surprises.


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