How to start your web 2.0 strategy

Every business owner with a web site knows that there is a pot of gold at the end of the web 2.0 rainbow. The secret to getting there lies in repurposing an old media staple and use ‘word-of-mouse’ to open up new markets. CRAIG REARDON shares a three-step

 

By Craig Reardon

 

Web secrets web 2.0 success

Every business owner with a web site knows that there is a pot of gold at the end of the web 2.0 rainbow. The secret to getting there lies in repurposing an old media staple and use ‘word-of-mouse’ to open up new markets.

You can’t help but sympathise with the smaller business operator.

In addition to dealing with the latest blow to market confidence, getting your BAS in and paid on time, and keeping up with the industrial relations minefield, the rapid pace of change in the online world makes it difficult to make informed decisions when it comes to how to move your marketing dollar from the declining old media to the new.

Just when you think you’ve got it nailed, you find that the technology you’ve just spent months boning up on has been superseded by something faster, sexier and more difficult to pronounce than its predecessors.

As much as you hate to admit it, it turns out that the annual call from your Yellow Pages rep was not so bad after all. At least you had some idea of how a 10 unit with colour stipple actually worked.

The good news is that one of the real powerhouses of web 2.0 marketing is underpinned by one of the oldest communications methods of all – the expert article.

They’ve been around for years. Useful advice from industry experts in the form of a trade magazine article or newsletter. In fact you’re reading one right now – it’s just that it’s in duplicable and viral digital form.

And this is the vital difference. The fact that it is digital means that it can be easily repurposed for different target markets and different online techniques, leading to an irrepressible viral momentum that is difficult to stop.

So the very same useful content that once formed your quarterly newsletter can now be repurposed to be delivered in a variety of ways, all of which promotes the new promotional gold – viral marketing.

Here’s how it works.

First the easy part. You write or have written an article of use to your target markets – just like the ones from the old printed newsletters.

But instead of applying it to a medium that is so low in viral attributes that it ends up in the recycle bin, you do three things.

1. Start a blog

First, add it to a blog. The best kind of blog is the one that populates the sort of web site that you are reading right now.

An “expert” website or publication like SmartCompany is the best place to place your article, followed of course by the mandatory credit and link to your website. If a SmartCompany does not appeal to your market, your industry is bound to have an equivalent – essentially a website or publication hungry for quality content and are prepared to credit it for you.

If you can’t find this kind of “expert blog” space, start your own on any of the blogware sites, such as Blogger or even in MySpace or Facebook – anywhere the biggest community already exists and is searching for and recommending great content.

With either an expert or community blog, you are getting the added benefit of the viral impetus as the story is picked up by zealous e-zine editors and RSS feeds (subscriptions to feeds of specific content, such as immediately to the left of this paragraph).

I recently conducted a search to see how one of my articles and blogs were being picked up by search engines, and was pleasantly surprised to see these not only being re-published and duly credited in another prominent e-zine website but ranking higher than in the original website it was sourced from. This of course gave my article a whole new audience in addition to the valuable readership of the originating website.

The viral factor is not only created by readers and their “word-of-mouse”. Search engines pick up on your article and because it is likely to be placed in a website with a high “Google rank”, gives it greater weight than if it were solely on your own website. And of course your credit and link to your website are all sending traffic your way.

2. Use your content for a regular e-newsletter

Next, use this same article as content for an e-newsletter. By now you should be using every opportunity available to you to populate your recipient database. Ask people if they’d like to subscribe. Promote it in your email footers. Attract new signups with regular, valuable freebies and offers.

Once you have the database, preparing the article for e-newsletter distribution is a simple cut, paste and send exercise. If it’s any good, recipients will forward it to interested friends and colleagues –in turn growing your database and reputation.

3. Add it to your website

Last but not least is of course add the same article to your website. Whether you call it “our blog” or “newsletter archive” is not important. What is important is that it’s great new content to keep your website fresh and add all important new keywords to your website for Google and its ilk to “crawl” and add to their index.

To save you the expense of having your developer add what is essentially basic content to your website, invest in a good content management system that will pay itself off in no time as you add your own content.

These three techniques will vastly multiply the audience for your work and could see you become a global authority in your field – and enjoy the new business that results from it.

But like any recipe for success, it doesn’t come easy. You must invest the time to come up with constant and regular articles. Otherwise the momentum that comes from regular appearance and circulation is lost.

Read more web secrets

Craig Reardon is a leading eBusiness educator and founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which provide the gamut of website solutions, technologies and services to SMEs. www.theeteam.com.au

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