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30 March 2009 | Paul Gostick Blog
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The Power of Web 2.0
This week Paul looks at the challenges of managing communications and the advancement of web-based communities..

Today, technology is advancing at a tremendous pace. The web has made information freely available and there is no doubt the consumers are more knowledgeable than ever before. The term "Web 2.0" refers to a perceived second generation of web development and design, that aims to facilitate communication, secure information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the World Wide Web although Tim Berners-Lee maintains that this is just part of the original concept of the web. Web 2.0 encapsulates the idea of the proliferation of interconnectivity and interactivity of web-delivered content and has led to the development and evolution of web-based communities, hosted services and applications such as social networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis and blogs. Whilst these facilities are useful, they do present a few challenges for marketers, the fact is that marketing no longer controls the message. It is no longer about telling, it is about collaborating. Communities, social networks and video sites are having a tremendous impact on communication. Moreover, organisations are judged and reputations made and lost in such forums, pretty much in real time.

I was going to talk about the challenges of managing communications and reputation in a Web 2.0 world. However, I came across an example of the power of technologies like YouTube that illustrates the point rather well. A short video of MEP Daniel Hannan delivering a withering assessment of the Prime Minister's handling of the economic crisis has become a surprise hit on the internet wit a global audience. Mr Hannan's three minute speech was delivered after the Premier had given a keynote speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday 24 March.

The UK press and television networks did not pick the story up. Broadcasters - including the BBC - failed to report Mr Hannan's oratory despite giving full coverage to Mr Brown's most pro-European speech to date, but it was quickly posted on YouTube and news outlets from Australia to America seized on his comments. More than 730,000 users have viewed it on YouTube, making it the most popular clip on the site two days in a row. More than 5,000 people have left comments on the site. The message spread like wildfire and indicates the challenges for organisations and individuals in the court of public opinion.

In essence, reputation is the opinion of the public toward a person, a group of individuals or an organisation. Trust and reputation play a major role in the development and ultimate success of relational contracts in many fields such as education, business, online communities or social status. Research shows that people act based on their feelings. They are more likely to buy the products and services of companies they trust, to work for the organisations they respect and to recommend companies they like. I will cover reputation and trust in a future blog.

In the current economic gloom, Mr Hannan’s speech offered a little ray of sunshine and was better than anything Hollywood could produce. Here is the speech in full:

'Prime Minister, I see you've already mastered the essential craft of the European politician: namely the ability to say one thing in this chamber and a very different thing to your home electorate. You've spoken here of free trade, and amen to that.

Who would have guessed, listening to you just now, that you were the author of the phrase 'British jobs for British workers,' and that you have subsidised - where you have not nationalised outright - swaths of our economy, including the car industry and many of the banks.

Perhaps you would have more moral authority in this House if your actions matched your words, and perhaps more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not sailing into this recession in the worst condition of any G20 country.

The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is now born owing around £20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child.

Now, once again today, you have tried to spread the blame around. You spoke about an international recession, an international crisis.

Well, it's true that we are sailing together into the squalls but not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear their rigging - in other words, to pay off debt. But you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further.

As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the waterline under the accumulated weight of your debt.

We are now running a deficit that touches 10 per cent of GDP, an almost unbelievable figure - more than Pakistan, more than Hungary; countries where the IMF has already been called in.

It's not just that you are not apologising - like everyone else I've long accepted that you are pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things - it's that you are carrying on wilfully worsening our situation, wantonly spending what little we have left.

In the last year 100,000 private sector jobs have been lost and yet you have created 30,000 public sector jobs. Prime Minister, you cannot carry on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit.

You cannot spend your way out of a recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we are well placed to weather the storm, I have to tell you, you sound like a Brezhnev era apparatchik giving the party line.

You know and we know and you know that we know that it's nonsense. Everyone knows that Britain is worse off than any other country as we go into these hard times.

The IMF has said so. The European Commission has said so. The markets say so, which is why the pound has lost a third of its value.

In a few months, the voters will have their chance to say so, too.

They can see what the markets have seen: that you are the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government.'

If you didn’t see the video click on this link.  

Any feedback and comments are always welcome!! 

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