Putting Web 2.0 to Work

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It’s true, Web 2.0 as a buzzword may now be wearing a little thin. Latched onto as the harbinger of another late 90’s bubble, the expectations on the little term have been set perhaps unrealistically high. In addition, the Web 2.0 idea has come to represent such a wide range of concepts that its ability to have any real meaning beyond hype and overblown expectations is unlikely at best.

However, the fact remains that the web as we know it has significantly changed in a very short amount of time, and calling this change Web 2.0 is currently the best recognized phrase we have to stand for the great shift that is occurring in our space. There is much to keep up with, and much to learn, and there is no better way to gain a better understanding of the nebulous circle of technologies and services referred to as “Web 2.0” than to sit down at the computer, sign up for some of these services, and start putting them to work in your business and everyday life. Here’s how…

As true icons of the movement, and as tools that can be quite useful to the marketing professional, I suggest the Web 2.0 novice start with photo-sharing site Flickr.com, and project management app Basecamp (located at BasecampHQ.com). Both of these products do what they do exceptionally well, and they both have a lot to offer in terms of leveraging and illuminating the concepts of participatory culture that is so much of what Web 2.0 is all about.

Flickr.com, besides offering an attractive and easy to use avenue to upload and share photos online, can be a great collaboration tool as well. Once an image has been uploaded to the service, a whole suite of options becomes available to let you and others interact with those images and most importantly, each other. I say image, because it should be noted that you don’t have to limit your use of the service to photos; any image file is fair game. For anyone involved in processes that go through a lot of image revisions (web banners, print ads, website designs, etc.) this should be illuminating the little light bulb over your heads. Think about it – Flickr’s tools let you do the following:

1. Organize any images that are uploaded into ordered sets.
2. Create a simple forum for multiple individuals to comment on an image.
3. Set individual or sets of images as private, and viewable only by invited “friends”.

This combination of tools make it free and easy to assess and collaborate any kind of image-based web campaign, and best of all nobody has to install any new software, since all you need is a modern web browser to take part. This very low barrier of entry makes it much easier to get various organizations, companies, clients or whoever using the same tools and thus on the same page of a project.

And as you most likely already know, email, the de facto method for handling this kind of process, can be fraught with peril with situations like multiple versions spreading out to multiple users at different times. This scattershot effect presents multiple opportunities for someone to be wasting time on an incorrect revision, or to simply get left out of the process. In addition, email is just not a very visual medium, and throwing a bunch of attachments onto an email does little to express flow or order.

For example, let’s say you are working on a landing page for a campaign that has a multiple page ordering process. An image of each step in the process would be uploaded to Flickr (at whatever resolution you desire) and put in the proper order within its own “set”. Now, the latest revision lives in one, central location for all members of the process to see. Anyone who has been notified of the set’s web address (from client, to contractor, to colleague) can view the set as individual images or a slideshow (unless it has been marked as “private”, in which case only Flickr users you have set as friends can view the images).

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