There is no denying that Web 2.0 technologies are being embraced by the business and marketing world. As Rosen and Phillips (2011) suggest, initial marketing efforts involved a repackaging of the business' existing printed materials. However, many soon realised that not only was this ineffective, it also neglected to take full advantage of the many benefits on offer. And, because Web 2.0 is an interactive technology, it has literally forced both business and marketer to change direction and strategy.
Web 2.0 essentially refers to the second generation of the World Wide Web. The main characteristics of Web 2.0 are social networking, interactive and database driven websites, human collaboration and user generated content.
A 2010 study revealed a number of interesting results in regard to Web 2.0 adoption rates by business. Conducted by McAfee, a team of experts and Vanson Bourne, over 1,000 participant organisations were surveyed across 17 countries. For the purposes of this study,
Web 2.0 was defined "as consumer social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and specialised Enterprise 2.0 solutions" (McAfee, 2010).
The McAfee study found that:
While 75% of organisations are using Web 2.0 technologies, only 34% were using it for marketing / sales and 28% for advertising and public relations.
Other uses of Web 2.0 by business included: approximately 51% surveyed used it for IT and approximately 22% used it for public relations or human resources / recruitment.
Out of 17 countries, Australia had the second lowest Web 2.0 business adoption rates.
From a non-marketing perspective, it was found that business was adopting Web 2.0 mainly to capitalise on "new revenue streams".
The main concerns / barriers to Web 2.0 adoption amongst participants were: security concerns ; productivity issues : legal risks ; and , anxiety over online reputation.
Although this study only investigated a small sample of the entire business population, some standout trends are evident. Australia's adoption of Web 2.0 by business is seriously lagging. The low use of Web 2.0 as a marketing tool is also concerning. Social Media Marketing is already providing businesses around the world with returns on marketing investment like no other platform. And, although business should not adopt it just for the sake of adoption, there are a myriad of ways Web 2.0 can be used as a superior marketing tool.