If you work for a tech company (which if you read this, you probably do), you are probably tired of hearing about how social media is the absolute end all be all for your marketing. The truth is, this is not the case. Don’t believe me? Try reading Jakob Nielsen’s report on how Web 2.0 Can Be Dangerous. As I commented in my last post, this site really is not much to look at. Nielsen’s research is so established in the industry, he has a PR 8. Nielsen doesn’t need all the Ajax and crazy new widgets on his site to get backlinks. He doesn’t even have a forum on this site. He just has research that actually works.
So how can Web 2.0 be dangerous? It can divert resources away from what we should be doing to get out to our customers if we choose to not use them effectively. In Nielsen’s blunt but spot on language, “most business tasks are too boring to support community features. The fact that the city Sanitation Department will pick up Christmas trees sometime after December 25 isn’t likely to inspire a longing to discuss shared experiences on the department’s site.” Come on, really? Nielsen argues that most of many these communities suffer from “participation inequality“, where a few members contribute all of the time and most members contribute seldom if ever.
Does this mean we should drop everything and just go back to the old fashioned mailing list? We dropped these conventions because they are often time consuming and ineffective. What can be the solution? Pay attention to all of your customers, and then they will actually want to pay attention to you. The Web 2.0 community tools are there for us to more effectively do this, but we will end up with a lot of users in our community but very few participants if our customers think that any talking they do will just fall on deaf ears.
We can use the “Web 2.0” community tools make us more effective. Without actually caring about our loyal customers’ concerns, they will not prove to be the magic bullet.