The People's Republic of China has 1,322,874,560 people. India has 1,131,043,000 people and the United States has 303,121,76 people. The social web has no boundaries and at its current annual growth rate it will become the largest "country" in the world by 2011. The new global community has emerged.
Businesses are just beginning to pay attention
In a Wall Street Journal article titled "Wall Street Firms Increasingly Adopt Web 2.0â€³ the writer states "With their ability to foster online collaboration and build user communities, Web 2.0 technologies â€" including wikis, blogs, RSS feeds and social networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and MySpace â€" are attracting millions of people every day. In a bid to stay ahead of the curve and reach investors where they spend their time, Wall Street firms also have been exploring the Web 2.0 landscape: some cautiously while others have jumped in wholeheartedly â€" making their applications more compelling to their clients and their employees.
"The list of financial firms deploying Web 2.0 applications, both within the enterprise and externally, is growing. TD Ameritrade, Bear Stearns and Wells Fargo all have announced new 2.0 applications in the last few months. "Enterprise social networking is still in its exploratory stages," observes Matthew Nelson, senior analyst with TowerGroup. [Ed. note: At press time, Nelson left TowerGrouo to join Omgeo as director, market intelligence.] "But it is going to become standard. The industry simply can't afford not to go this way because that's the way people in general â€" employees and customers â€" are shifting."
Joe Case, public relations officer at Nationwide Insurance and a leader on their Have The Talk campaign states "I think we're seeing a shift from a transaction-based economy to a dialogue-based economy," says Case, who contends that competitive advantage in the financial services industry will go to companies that engage in a dialogue with customers. "If you ignore the opportunities that social media and Web 2.0 offer, you ignore an opportunity for real dialogue with the customer base."
Case explains that Nationwide is reaching out to bloggers and promoting relevant discussions on gather.com, a social networking and media Web site, in an effort to drive traffic back to HaveTheTalkAmerica.com. In addition, the Caliendo videos have been made available on YouTube.
"We're just trying to hit it virally from different angles, to get different groups of people engaged in the need to have a discussion they need to have," Case says. "If we can help them get the conversation going in a creative way and let them know that we are serious about being a value partner with them, then hopefully they will take the next step with us."
Customer Relationships 2.0
Case says "Many financial services companies try to educate consumers on important life subjects, Case acknowledges. But few are using Web 2.0 concepts such as viral marketing, he asserts. "The industry is really good about going to the customer and talking about what it wants to sell to them, but what we're trying to do with this is really meet customers in the middle of their life," Case says. "I don't see a lot of our competitors playing in that space."
Is it about viral marketing or conversations?
While the above examples are encouraging businesses still have a lot to learn about relationships and conversations with people. 2008 will be an interesting year of explosive adoption of the social web for business purposes. However, the cascading conversational effect will rebound against those business that don't fully comprehend the dynamics of the social web. Social commerce will emerge from cascading conversations interacting with businesses.
What does cascading conversations and social commerce mean? Stay tuned and we will define these terms and the impact both will have on the coming year starting on the last day of this year and the first day of the new year.
What say you?