Everyone’s really excited about Web 2.0. Still. That in itself isn’t a problem: there’s lots to be excited about. All this Web 2.0 stuff — social media, network building, picture posting, wiki writing, Twitter tweeting and all the other things bloggers do while high on AJAX — is making the Web into a much more collaborative, open and accessible medium. That was pretty much the point of the Web from the get-go, so kudos to them for the job well done.
But, talk has been growing over the past year about the future of this utopia we’re all building together — or at least, its business future. The analysts say the tides may be turning yet again: that Web 2.0 is forming a bulge of a bubble that’s about to burst at the seams.
And they’re probably right. If you look around, it’s pretty obvious that there’s a lot of noise going on. Of course, we’ve had Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Digg, Flickr and the great big blogosphere for a while now. But every day it seems I’m learning about some new Web 2.0 app and how it’s the best thing for me since sliced turkey. There are way too many social media sites out there, and I’m afraid that sitting in the middle of this with my Web Marketer and Web Developer hats on has gotten me awfully dizzy.
And while wearing those hats — yes, I wear actual hats — I’m often browsing freelancer sites looking for fun and exciting projects to work on. Without fail, there are daily postings from investors looking to build the next MySpace, Digg or i-silver-bullet. If not, they at least want a new Facebook app that will create the viral marketing their business always needed to get off the ground.
After the 2000 dot-com burst, this kind of if you build it they will come smack in the face of rationality came to a grinding halt, and the executives who didn’t smarten up were politely asked to die in a hole somewhere. Now, it seems like the coffers are opening up again to buy a piece of Web 2.0 pie.
Of course so many “Web 2.0” companies are living off of traffic and ad revenue alone — but what about those using the Web to sell something tangible? My friends over at Sitebrand paint a brighter picture for those involved in online retail, where the Web may actually be the safer bet as the U.S. economy slows down.
Meanwhile, the clients I work with have all increased their online marketing spending over the past year or two — but every single one of them has become obsessed with their web metrics. Conversion rates, cost-per-lead and ROI are on the tops of their minds, and rightly so.
So it seems that at least some people have learned from the first dot-com burst, which is great because they’ll need to use that kind of sense again to search for new marketing tactics when the bubble bursts and Internet users worldwide simultaneously fall into comas.
I guess what I’m trying to say in all of this is “smarten up, Internet”, because if everything goes to hell again the Web won’t be any more fun and I’ll have to get a new job.