Most people are familiar with the term “Web 2.0,” which refers to a second generation of web development and design that focuses on fostering social networking via the web. Innovative companies are embracing Web 2.0 as a way to enhance communication, information sharing, and collaboration, thereby allowing them to work smarter rather than harder.
The business use of Web 2.0 represents a new trend called “Business 2.0.” Aside from being the name of a defunct magazine, Business 2.0 is about using the new web-based social networking applications (many of which were originally created for personal use) in a way that fosters teamwork, customer touches, and internal and external collaboration in a low-cost seamless way.
Unfortunately, many businesses feel that Web 2.0 and social networking are for the younger generation and a waste of time when used by employees. However, once you understand the power of these applications and how to use them in your insurance and financial practice, you’ll quickly find that they can be invaluable tools to boost your bottom line.
Following is an overview of the best Business 2.0 tools.
Personal Tools with Business Applicability
Personal use: Facebook enables you to connect and share with the people in your life. Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact with others. People can add friends, send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.
Business 2.0 use: Large organizations can connect all of their employees, or members, with Facebook. Some are finding an added advantage of using an internal, secure version of Facebook. This has helped organizations to dramatically increase their internal networking and collaboration.
Ask yourself: Could we use Facebook, or our own internal version, to get people to collaborate at a higher level?
Personal use: Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of short, quick answers using no more than 140 characters per message. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or co-workers. Users can receive updates via the Twitter website or other social networking sights such as Facebook. Young people use Twitter for answering the question: What are you doing?
Business 2.0 use: Business users could change that question to: What problem are you trying to solve? Several companies have used this as a fast way to solve problems. Hotels, airlines, and airports are using Twitter to pitch services, travel updates, and respond to travelers needs.
Ask yourself: Could we use Twitter to solve problems faster with our organization or our clients?
Personal use: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can use to find information on virtually any topic. Anyone can edit the content as well.
Business 2.0 use: A large manufacturing company with engineers in locations around the world increased problem-solving and collaboration by creating an internal, secure version of Wikipedia for sharing information on parts and service offerings as well as repair and maintenance instructions. Retailers and suppliers can create a version of Wikipedia to foster education and training, plus enhanced information sharing.
Ask yourself: Could we create an internal version of Wikipedia to foster better information and knowledge sharing?
Personal use: YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view, and share video clips. YouTube displays a variety of user-generated video content, plus movie clips, product demonstrations, and commercials. Unregistered users can watch the videos, while registered users can upload an unlimited number of videos.
Business 2.0 use: Businesses are posting humorous commercial videos to generate interest in their products with great success. The more entertaining is the video, the more people watch it. Business partners can create a YouTube-like channel for educating and training.
Ask Yourself: Could we enhance our marketing efforts as well as general communication by using YouTube?
Personal use: Digg is a social news web site made for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the Internet by submitting and accessing links and stories. Voting stories thumbs up or a thumb down is the site’s cornerstone function, respectively called digging and burying.
Business 2.0 use: Many organizations have found this to be a good way to track the most interesting advances in technology or the most useful business news. Large organizations can create their own internal version for sharing what employees consider to be the most useful information.