When does the map of Web 2.0 become "Clouded"? (Part 1)

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By mattdollinger at 2008-04-29 I shiver almost every time someone mentions the phrase Web 2.0. The catch phrase of the millenia, 2.0 refers to "the next step", NEW, better than the original. The "official" Wikipedia definition refers to Web 2.0 as, "a term describing a trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users". (see article here) So, what happens when our intricately laid plans of information sharing, creativity, and collaboration actually DISTANCE ourselves from our consumers instead of pulling us together for the sharing we so seek? This is an issue that I often find myself smack dab in the middle of when talking with friends and others in the real estate community. In an industry of "me too" and "ours is better" the question becomes; "In our quest to increase exposure to listings and target a finite consumer pool, are we appealing to our audience or distancing ourselves from them?" My thoughts have always been focused (with real estate at least) around the following:
  1. Enhance the overall customer experience
  2. Provide more "usable" information than other sites/companies
  3. Visual appeal and usability
  4. Functionality
I was amazed when I witnessed the release of Chase Nation , a social networking site devoted to the Lake Tahoe/Reno, NV area. It scores an 11 on the "Coolness" scale and set the tech community buzzing with its forward thinking and ingenuity. Two months (roughly) after its release date, the network has a total of 350 members, (130 of them being Chase international Realtors, and I would guess another half being interested parties like myself). I am assuming that the site, (unconfirmed), was assembled to provide area information, thoughts, opinions, etc. from the neighboring public - ultimately increasing the company's exposure and increased potential buyer/seller traffic. It remains to be seen if this idea catches on, but I am speculative. Even in Chicago, a city I know like the back of my hand and love, I could see this type of neighborhood network REALLY taking hold in maybe 4-5 areas with the right roll-out, marketing, and advertising. (I have no idea about the roll out or advertising Chase International did for this project.) But now, rather than wait for the general public to "catch up" to this technology, all the real estate tech blogs are exploring; What's next? What's better than Chase Nation? How can we surpass their tech-genius? (One of our local real estate companies even tried their hand at creating a Second LIfe office and failed miserably.) In my mind it all comes back to figuring out WHAT the consumer wants and WHAT the consumer is willing to use. For the millions and millions of dollars that are annually spent in advertising budgets, statistics, and analyzing the behviors of consumers, my question always becomes; "Why not simply ask them?" I encourage EVERYONE... whether in Real Estate or whatever business, to target your top 10 clients and ask them about their Psychographics. Ask them why they worked with you, what they liked, what they didn't, what websites they visit, what they think of yours, how you could improve it, etc... Go to the source and listen... The #1 desire of all human beings is to be heard and understood. Then, when you find what they want, desire, like, etc... then put 110% of your efforts into providing that to the nth degree and making their experience better. (Part 2 to come - stats and figures) Matt Dollinger (Originally posted at www.TheYouFactor.com)

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