Navigating the Collaborative Web

By Suzanne Kimelman

At this very moment, we are experiencing a new era of the Web that will solidify a shift in how the online universe is utilized, perceived, approached and experienced. Called the “Collaborative Web,” this new generation of the Web emerging in real time is building upon what we have called “Web 2.0” for more than 5 years.

By way of background, Web 2.0 was focused on content creation, management and dissemination intended to allow users to generate content and create communities with that content. The Collaborative Web is going beyond that interactive state into a truly collaborative state.

This cooperative state of the Web where users with work with one another rather than act upon one another will force the democratization of the Web so that all users will have a say in its evolution.

A prime example of the Collaborative Web is Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Created in 2001 and truly ahead of its time, Wikipedia was developed with the intention to be a truly collaborative environment that anyone with Web access can edit. The results of this phenomenally successful experiment in online collaboration are staggering. The site contains nearly 3.5 millions user-generated articles and more than 20 million pages, all of which are edited by 75,000 and monitored by 1,500 administrators seeking to craft a high-quality resource while maintaining civility .

As the Collaborative Web evolves over the coming weeks, months and even years, it is imperative that businesses understand how it will affect how they operate online – and offline – because there will be a further melding of the two that will create a seamless brand experience.

“The Web” will no longer be a destination on a computer. Rather, it will be available to anyone with a device that has data capabilities – cell phones, smart phones (e.g., iPhone), e-readers (e.g., Kindle), televisions, and video game consoles. In whatever way a user can work or collaborate with another person will be part of the Collaborative Web, which will affect change across all social media and the entire online experience.

There will no longer be a distinction between how consumers are gathering their information and collaborating online – it will be seamless process viewed as a singular experience by a consumer.

The impact this seismic shift will have on business will further revolutionize how information is gathered. Everyone will have a voice, expanding social media beyond household names like Twitter or Facebook into even more real-time presence that can be dissected, measured and managed by anyone and everyone.

Key trends will emerge throughout the remainder of 2010 that will signal the evolution of the Collaborative Web.

  1. Required social media presence. Google and other search engines have developed the ability to display customized search results based on a user’s online activity, an increasing portion of which will come form real-time social media sites. Whereas a Twitter or Facebook presence was a “nice to have” 1 or 2 years ago, it will be a “must have” in this Collaborative Web environment. Consumers will expect their preferred brands to be involved in social media like never before.
  2. Utilization of “location.” GPS contained in portable devices will help companies target geo-specific information about the consumer that will provide your brand with the ability to push micro-targeted messages to consumers like never before, as well as provide companies with valuable demographic and behavioral information.
  3. Increased use of video. Faster data connections at home and on portable devices are enabling video to go truly mainstream. This will enable your brand to deliver multi-dimensional and dynamic messages to consumers anytime, anywhere.
  4. Sponsored social media outreach. Until now, brand ambassadors have not been compensated. However, there is a trend emerging that will see bloggers and other social media users (e.g., Tweeters and Facebookers) be compensated to post content based on a brand’s message. While it is highly likely, that a debate will rage about the ethical nature of this new era of product placement, the benefits will be undeniable. Specifically, brands will be able to effectively target messages to a seemingly unlimited network of bloggers and social media consumers with varying levels of influence, as well as track clicks and other data from every posts and increase organic search engine results.
  5. Analytics will become king. In order to quantify the results of digital and social media efforts, it will increasingly critical for companies to understand what’s working, successes and areas for improvement. To that end, the results of the community created by the Collaborative Web will enable your brand to develop profiles on consumers engaged with the brand, and develop and track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Helen Keller said that “alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” As we move – real time – into the era of the Collaborate Web, FD can provide your brand with the insights, tools, strategic thinking and groundbreaking ideas necessary to affect change.

We will build upon our existing cutting-edge knowledge and expertise that has helped us identify the emergence of the Collaborative Web. Specifically, we can help your brand build relationships, manage reputation, drive sales and efficiencies, provide quality customer service, innovate, be a thought leader and build brand awareness in this brave new world.

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