In my online research during the past 6 months – assessing, visiting and watching the traffic trends of Web 2.0 sites – I’ve noticed many aspects that either give or distract from the success of those sites. I’ll be sharing these observations over the coming weeks – bit by bit.

Of course these are nothing more than an outsider’s perspective and analysis. There is no way of knowing 100% the mandate, the growth pattern, or the strategies employed for any one site (unless publicly posted).

So with that, here are the first few ‘do nots’ for consideration if you want your 2.0 site to be successful.

Do Not Be A Web 2.0 Island

Do not believe your site can stand on it’s own if it’s a social (network or bookmark) style site. Do not ignore the fact that social network sites need a framework and traffic source outside of itself in order to thrive and grow. Although the users within your site might like to keep their new found corner of the online world their little secret, you will need to ensure that a consistent stream of traffic (through advertising or viral marketing) keeps your site fresh and exciting.

A Web 2.0 socially-minded site links freely to other networks and stand-alone sites, and as such is linked to just as freely. This is the premise of the blog, before WordPress and other CMS platforms incorporated the ‘nofollow’ tag within updated coding. Blogger’s trackbacks and commenting is one of the main reasons blogs hit the spotlight in the webmaster’s world and rose to fame on the dawn of the 2.0 scene.

New and consistent traffic isn’t the only way to keep things fresh. You might also integrate new tools, new sub-groups within the main group, or new sites that match the interests of your users. The options and strategies will vary greatly across target markets so I am unable to supply one grand example that showcases this strategy and will not distract from your own creativity.

Do Not Ignore Incentives

Once the novelty, or the initial purpose, of any social network Web 2.0 site has worn off, ask yourself this: “What’s Left?”

Ask that especially if the site is one of your own!

Do your users have an incentive of any sort to: Keep coming back? Refer more users? Add more content?

Other than the ‘popularity contests’ that are so vital to the insecure or immature (get as many friends on your list as possible and you are more loved, more accepted and therefore ‘win’), what is the incentive for your visitors to keep visiting?

Here’s where many sites drop the ball. After a while of collecting friends, making casual acquaintences, and grouping all their real world buddies hooked in – user’s lose interest, find the next cool site, and start all over again – on some other Web 2.0 site!

What I’m saying is don’t ignore incentives. A few ‘add content, social networking’ sites now share the advertising revenue with it’s users. A pittance for the most part, but an incentive nonetheless.

Other Web 2.0 sites have a career incentive (facebook), or find love incentives (like so many dating sites).

This is where strategy comes into play and again the answer to the incentives equation is different for every target market. I’ve got some of my own ideas I’ll be shooting for on my Web 2.0 sites – perhaps I’ll share them (and the results) in a few months time.

Until next time, when I discuss more of the integral components of successful Web 2.0 sites – What to do, and what not to do.

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