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Web 2.0 Strategy: 10 Tactics For Success

May 3, 2007

For some time I’ve been thinking about a kind of boilerplate strategy for Web 2.0 success. Having tapped the knowledge of many sources including Tara Hunt, Jeffery Rasport, Peter Horan, John Musser and Tim O’Reilly himself, here are my ten guiding principals that should apply regardless of your proposition. In no particular order:

Short on time? Web 2.0 Strategy now available as a slideshow!

#1. Create a sense of community

  • Provide a feeling of membership through functionality such as profile pages, ‘friending’, defining groups and friend invites.
  • Provide a feeling of influence and efficacy – a platform for expression where the audience is in charge.
  • Fulfil social, ego and self-actualisation needs – allow users to show their status and expertise; let them get a feeling of competence and support from others. Status rewards, karma points, and having featured members can help.
  • Take a leaf out of Flickr’s book and greet every new member. Do this by “eating your own dog food”!

#2. Have a simple proposition

  • Your site must have a strong, simple and compelling proposition. Can you imagine somebody explaining it to their friend on the phone? “I found this really good website today called xxx – it’s great because….”
  • More so, to be truly successful and go mainstream, your site should offer “a benefit to the person that makes a real difference in their lives.” (John Coate)
  • Don’t just think about active participation such as user generated content. Aim to leverage passive participation as well – think about what you could do with ‘attention data’ and let users simply vote with their feet.

#3. Ensure viral growth

  • If you want to grow, you must include facilities to encourage word-of-mouth – both altruistic and incentivised.
  • Build-in ways to share – Email, blogs, RSS, widgets, cut and paste of code snippets, IM, and SMS.
  • Develop ways to lower the barrier to invite friends and family, eg Import from address books (hotmail, gmail, outlook express), import from instant messaging clients.
  • Include elements that encourage a natural network-effect, whereby the site has more value to users the more people they invite.

#4. Do continuous R&D

  • Continually research and develop the site on a rolling basis (think Agile) – do not be afraid of experimentation.
  • Keep an open dialogue with your users and involve them in decisions.
  • Provide an easy mechanism for users to provide feedback. It’s free testing.
  • Closely monitor real user behaviour and use this information to improve and develop your site.
  • Web development and design is a process, not an event – the first day after a redesign is the worst and the day you stop tweaking a website is the day it dies.

#5. Build a platform for advertisers

  • With your community, think about how you can genuinely put advertisers in touch with the right consumers.
  • Create opportunities for advertisers to interact with the users in ways which will be of interest to both parties.
  • But remember, advertising should just be the icing on the revenue cake.

#6. Let the outside in and the inside out

  • Let the outside in: allow content from the web into your site, eg widgets, rss, etc.
  • Why not include your competitor’s news on your site? They’ll only go back to Google to get it. Progressive insurance even shows competitor’s prices even if they beat theirs – builds trust, gives confidence, increased conversions.
  • Let the inside out: Allow syndication of your content and brand through rss, widgets, open APIs etc. Set your content free.
  • 60% of YouTube streams are on third-party sites – let your users do your marketing for you.

#7. Own the audience

  • Target your proposition to an audience. Aim to overwelm the microcosm.
  • You can target on one of the following:
    • Location (eg xianei.com – china).
    • Interest (eg myspace.com – music).
    • Identity (eg ivillage.com – female).
    • Condition (eg theknot.com – getting married – used by 85% of US weddings).

#8. Don’t forget to be profitable

  • Think carefully about traffic acquisition costs – don’t make a net loss in driving traffic.
  • Consider paid search as a cost-of-sale rather than marketing.
  • Check the real costs of content creation.
  • Measure and focus on your rate of monetisation – eg total revenue per visit – this is your yield. Should you be trying to increase this before trying to increase traffic?

#9. Get your content mix right

  • Be relevant – readers are looking for complete solutions.
  • Make sure your content resonates – expertise is relative – people are looking for the like-minded, pro or otherwise.
  • Be specific – the specific always drives off the general.
  • Don’t slow people down – readers need the content on demand.
  • Ensure you are comprehensive – readers want the full story, so they value input from peers.
  • Provide a mix of content from broad to narrow; from small audiences (long-tail) to large audiences (mass) – delivered from a range of sources, from editorial content , blogs, UGC, Forums and ratings, reviews and comments. For example narrow content might be a search for gardeners in my area, whereas broad content might be an article about gardening trends.

#10. Sell something

  • Building a website business that relies completely on advertising is like building your house on sand.
  • Instead, sell something! Even if it’s ones and zeros. For example Facebook sells virtual ‘gifts‘ for $1 each (when you have 18 million users I bet it adds up…); SecondLife sells virtual land; DeviantArt sells prints, merchandise and ad-free premium membership;
  • Novelty items like Facebook’s gifts and other services to help you ‘pimp your profile’ are the online equivilant of mobile ringtones, which are $6.6bn global business. Another good excuse to part kids from their pocket money.
  • If you’re into a more grown-up business, think about what data and content you have that might be genuinely valuable to people – and not just your users. Is there a business-to-business side revenue stream to be found? Even your user’s attention data might be valuable.
  • Think about what your users would happily pay for.

Did I miss anything?

3 Comments
  1. August 22, 2007 4:32 pm

    A nice summary Paul. Having a simple proposition that meets a clear and identified need seems to be as important as it is hard to achieve!

  2. Catalin permalink
    August 13, 2008 12:31 pm

    Great tactics!

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