You’d have to have spent the last year holed up in a cave not to have heard the phrase, Web 2.0. Like most buzzwords of the moment it carries a connotation of “getting it.” Don’t worry about the buzzword, however. The key is what it means.
I particularly like the phrase Andrew DiFiore Jr., Creative Director of answerYES Interactive uses to refer to the whole shebang subsumed under Web 2.0 — “digital sales representative.” Web 2.0, says DiFore, “is all about furthering your brand, product and service and getting people to relate to you one-on-one and giving you feedback.” Suddenly, thanks to web sites and interactive tools like blogs, podcasts and video, you have the opportunity for seemingly gazillions of people (over a billion folks today are online) to know about you and your brand. Frankly, if you’re not taking advantage of this, you’re not truly marketing.
Sadly, most US companies are grossly under spending online. Consider this statistic from Nielson/Net Ratings Ad Relevance, courtesy of Michael Westcott, president of social media company, The Concentric Group: US companies on average are spending a measly 6.6% of their marketing budgets online. But this is changing as marketers shift more ad dollars online from other media. Internet advertising revenue (pure play and traditional media platforms) in the US alone grew 36% in 2006, reaching $23.7 billion billion, according to the VSS Communications Industry Forecast 2007-2011.
Let’s not shed any tears for now since this creates all the more opportunity for the rest of us. The fact is that every time someone visits your website or blog or engages with you online, you’re furthering your brand. Consider, for example, a web site for a chiropractor. If you’re like me, you may have received a pushy phone call from your local chiropractor’s office suggesting your well being is at risk unless you schedule an appointment. Compare that to a site DiFore designed for Dr. Brian Yomtov where he turned the tables to let the user take charge. Every page of the site has a form for you to ask the doctor a question. “It’s free advice to help generate a reputation,” says DiFore. “You not only want to get your name out there and be knowledgeable but also accessible.”
The Internet every day is providing new ways to help you build your personal brand. Leadership consultant and personal branding expert Rob Cuesta, for example, has his own personal branding store on Amazon. It’s a great way to promote himself and pocket a little affiliate revenue from Amazon. And, better yet, anyone can easily do this.
Of course, you shouldn’t willy-nilly try a Web 2.0 tool just as you wouldn’t blindly buy a radio or TV spot. “Don’t just do a blog because everyone is doing one,” says DiFore. “It may not be the best use of your time and money.” What’s important is to develop an online strategy or hire an expert to help you. And then measure everything you do. The wonderful thing about the Internet is that you know in the time it takes to click if what you’re doing is working. Now start clicking your way to reputation building.
Wendy Marx • Public Relations/Marketing Communications • President, Marx Communications, Inc.