New York Times technology columnist David Pogue has a fantastic article on the benefits of embracing the Web 2.0 movement.
When a company embraces the possibilities of Web 2.0, though, it makes contact with its public in a more casual, less sanitized way that, as a result, is accepted with much less cynicism. Web 2.0 offers a direct, more trusted line of communications than anything that came before it.
It’s not just blogging, either. It could be podcasts. Or videos. (One blender company has quintupled its sales by posting hilarious amateur videos at WillItBlend.com.) Permit the public to make mash-ups using your company’s characters, logos, music or products. Let’s have some more inside looks: at your product design cycles, your focus groups, your rejected designs, your employee cubicle videos.
Yes, you’ll have to moderate this stuff. Yes, it means spending money with no immediately visible return on investment. Yes, it’s more work for everyone.
But you’ll gain trust, goodwill and positive attention. You’ll put a human face on your company. And you’ll learn stuff about your customers that you wouldn’t have discovered any other way.
I’m actually a great case study for this topic. I had heard of Will It Blend? prior to this article (Tom Dickenson, host of Will It Blend?, actually appeared on the Tonight Show in March 2007 after the spoof videos took off). When I initially stumbled upon them, I wasn’t aware that the films were intended to promote a product. I believed they were simple amateur videos compiled to generate a quick laugh. Subconsciously, I was thinking— “man, that is a powerful blender. I wonder where can I get one once my need for a blender arises?” As corny as it may sound, it’s the truth. Blendtec succeeded in capturing my interest and generating buzz for their product (and I don’t think I’ve ever been in the market for a blender… ever) by engaging audiences with enjoyable content that is easy to access. Unique and innovative, thought-provoking and funny. The perfect touch-point for a brand, reaching far beyond tailored corporate messaging. Even more importantly, users could easily share Blendtec’s videos with others via Youtube (see the our post on What Drives Web 2.0). Every time I forwarded friends, family and colleagues a Will It Blend? video, I was doing Blendtec’s work for them.
Businesses in both the B2C and B2B realms should begin to explore the tools made available by Web 2.0. Blogs, videos and podcasts are the content that today’s audiences are craving. Why not give it to them?