There’s a huge rush on – from marketers around the globe – to market their products and services (or increase their search engine position) by posting content and creating profiles on multiple Web 2.0 properties.

This is one way a very smart internet marketing trainer is teaching others to domninate the search engine listings for their select keywords.

It’s a great idea, but is it a viable long-term solution to increasing brand awareness and building business value? Or is it a short term solution to (hopefully) some fast cash?

Surfers Spending More Hours on Web 2.0 – Less on Search

Before you run off creating multiple accounts on multiple Web 2.0 properties and posting your proprietary content there in an attempt to dominate the top 10 results in google, consider the research – excerpted from Strategic Social Marketing, (2007) below.

Question: Is your target market, in fact, still using the search engines?

The Online Publishers Association Internet Activity Index (2007), classifies and documents web surfer activity. At the time of writing, here is the average time surfers gave to each of these four activities:

1. Searching for information 5%

2. Commerce (shopping) 16.1%

3. Content (news, information, and entertainment) 45.5%

4. Communications (engaging in communication) 33.7%

Don’t miss the way OPAI describes these activities or you’ll find yourself thinking that your one way content delivery is still a viable way to attract and hold eyeballs on your website…

Content – Sites that provide news, information and entertainment (given the entertainment qualification of this category and based on comScore’s research above, most of this percentage could in fact be Web 2.0).

Communications – Sites that facilitate the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information directly between individuals or groups of individuals. (definitely web 2.0)

Commerce – Sites that are designed for shopping online. (some of both)

Search – Sites that provide prioritized results based on user-generated requests.

Stability of Web 2.0 Properties

Question: How much time do you have to lose? How much money do you have to spend on outsourcing the work?

Social networking websites are still a relatively new business model. As such many start-ups haven’t quite figured out their income source and how to pay the bandwidth bills.

Consider one hot web property that went offline just this month. Bolt had it made with a member base of 4,000,000 and over 14,000,000 unique visitors/month. Yet on August 14 an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors was filed and Bolt is no longer accessible for users, search engines, or the 14 million unique visitors. If you were posting to Bolt previous, your work would be for naught today.

Social networking websites don’t need to shut down for your efforts to be wasted. Changes in a site’s Terms of Service as well as over zealous ‘reporting’ on your content could get your user account taken away from you. If this happens all your content and time invested is lost.

Conclusion

I am not stating that what others are teaching is wrong, or bad. I just want you to be sure it is right for you and your business model.

There may be better ways to spend your time than attempting to captivate the search engine listings (especially when ‘search’ is such a small part of how your target market uses the web). There may be better ways to post content to a social networking site (i.e. automated RSS feed integration) than risking the loss of content due to site closures and account suspensions.

I know initial research can be drab, but in the end it serves you well. Take your time to devise a smart strategy for your online marketing and stay informed of both surfing trends and the viability of each business practice you partake in.


Laura Childs