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As the Internet has matured it has become increasingly important to do more than just have a website. Increasingly, companies need to find more ways to connect with their target customer, and build deeper relationships with the customers they have. Users expect more from websites, and the chances are your competitors may be providing what they are looking for! The good news is that there are some fantastic tools that allow this to be achieved very easily.
Social Networks connect people with similar interests or needs using the internet. Examples of social networking websites include Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace. Sites like these have a huge audience and you can tap into it!
For example, it is easy to create a Facebook group - perhaps around a specialised industry topic. You can use Facebook Connect to allow Facebook users to sign into your website using their Facebook credentials instead of your usual registration process (which can be offputting to many users). You can exploit the viral nature of Facebook by posting notifications back to Facebook which are seen by the user and all their friends.
It may be even be appropriate to create your own social networking website. Imagine an online community that you have built around your own business. There are tools available that make it easy to do this. An example of one is the Frontline Club Network that we built using Ning.
So, a social network can be an invaluable way to communicate with your customers. Businesses are often particularly interested because of the targeting that is possible to niche communities.
A blog can help you in a number of ways. It can help establish you as a leading authority on a particular subject and can be a quick way of getting a message out to users - subscribers to your blog will automatically receive notification of your posts without having to visit your site. It can also be of great benefit to your search engine rankings.
There are tools available that allow feature-rich blogs to be set up easily. Our preferred blogging system is Wordpress. It is Open Source and has hundreds of different themes you can use for your blog (how it looks) and plugins (what it does).
We can provide you with everything you need to get started with your blog - advice, setup, design, bespoke functionality and hosting.
Podcasting takes blogs a step further by providing not just text and images, but audio or video content which can then be automatically downloaded to users' iPods (or other mp3 players). Using software such as iTunes or Winamp new posts are automatically detected and downloaded, and can then be transferred to an iPod or similar portable media player.
Web 2.0 is a term that is often used to refer to the "second generation of the worldwide web". It is a rather vague term but includes the topics described further up this page - social networking, blogging, community building. It conveys the sense that users can interact with websites far more than just receving information - they can submit their own content, and have control over how data is used. Examples are websites like YouTube and Flickr which are hugely successful sites that consist entirely of content submitted by users.
One of the great benefits of these sites is the ease by which you can integrate with them. For example, whereas incorporating video into a website was once expensive and technically demanding, it is now trivial to upload a video to YouTube and then embed it into your site.
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