How To Be A Successful Web 2.0 Puppetmaster
February 11, 2009
One of the key characteristics of Web 2.0 is participation, collaboration and moderation through the use of web applications. Web 2.0 sites derive their power from the human connections and network effects from this characteristic that is made possible, and grow in effectiveness the more people use them.
The idea of "participation, collaboration and moderation" can take many forms. If you look back history, bulletin boards are one form, online forums are another, online multiplayer games, content management systems (e.g. Wikis, Joomla), dating sites and classifieds as well. If not for features that enable multiple users to create their own space within a website via registering accounts or at least leave a message (like a comment in a blog), the communication culture would have been one-way (from the webmaster to the visitors) and remain stuck in 1.0.
Why would a webmaster want to go Web 2.0? We learned that social networkers want to expand their personal network of online friends. On the other hand, the webmaster desires to build up a core group of active participants who unconsciously help to sustain the 'liveliness' and therefore the longevity of the website and its agenda or interests while the overall database of users expand. In this manner, a lot of the effort that goes into building the database (or list) becomes very much hands-off for the webmaster. There's leverage. This is also where moderation comes in. The role of the webmaster naturally becomes that of the moderator, whose job is to maintain some semblance of order (but not to the point of creating a restrictive environment) and general site maintenance. It gets better when the webmaster can promote participants into moderators themselves, and more and more s/he becomes the "silent puppetmaster" behind the scene without doing much. It may not be easy, but the whole mindset of being a moderator is to gain confidence in just "letting it be" and letting his/her site runs by itself.
Now that the webmaster's motivation is addressed, s/he must find ways to avoid competition by finding new twists to contribute to the Web 2.0 bandwagon. Much as new sites keep popping up in recent months, somehow no 2 sites are made the same and they certainly enjoy a good amount of traffic anyway. It would be better when you can boil down social networking to the context of a specific niche, like a site to exchange Mexican recipes or talk about Ferrari car accessories or business opportunities in Central Asia. You can better target the type of people you are looking for and it also gives them a sharper sense of purpose to engage with and within your site.
At the end of the day, social networking is all about sharing valuable content and making friends. The successful Web 2.0 webmaster is one who knows how to tap on this human desire to the fullest and consistently encourages such a desire to grow within the culture of the social network he has created by offering further privileges for more prominent members. Really, there's no better way for them to build up credibility and make their personalities known than to be consistently 'alive' and 'happening' on the Net. From the SEO standpoint of view, you can also accumulate more backlinks and subsequently more traffic to your social networking site.