The other day at business networking event the discussion of blogging, MySpace, Wikipedia, and Flickr came up. Naturally I brought up utilizing web 2.0 as an exciting platform for marketing businesses. Below are 6 rules to remember if you’re thinking about utilizing social networking or other web 2.0-like services for marketing your business.

The following is an exerpt from Sean Carton’s October 31, 2005 article on The ClickZ Network titled, “Web 2.0 Marketing”:

Remember you’re part of a community. Members of a community have a vested interest in the greater good of the whole. They only participate in a way that benefits all. Spamming, misleading tags, incorrect information, and sneaky stuff (e.g., creating fictitious Wikipedia entries to promote your products are all activities that hurt the community.

Strike a balance between authentication and anonymity. The Internet was built on the concept of anonymity, but the anonymity that promotes participation and the free exchange of information can also allow malicious types to wreck your project. Contributor authentication can help by allowing you to delete offending material. But you’d better be sure you have a clear, strict privacy policy to encourage users.

Have some institutional guts. If you’re going to allow the public in, be prepared for the consequences. Not everyone’s going to agree with you or say nice things about your products and services. Don’t block critics out. Engaging them in a positive way can often turn around potential problems. If you blog, you know this; often, engaging disagreeable posters turns them into instant friends.

Avoid spin. If you’re going to participate in Web-based open services, don’t try to spin your content with bland PR platitudes. People can spot “marketing” in a microsecond and don’t think too highly of content that turns out to be a thinly disguised ad. On the other hand, using editorial to promote products can be pretty effective if done correctly.

Examine your motives. Are you jumping on the Web 2.0 bandwagon because it fits your strategy or because it’s the current thing to do? Examining this question will tell you whether you’re really ready to come to the party. It’s a long-term commitment.

Get ready to work. Participating in the open, rough-and-tumble world of social networking and user-supplied content is a lot of work. The content needs to be fed and cared for constantly. Make sure you have the budget and the institutional will to continue the project — indefinitely.

These are great rules to remember!

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