By Wayne Gibbins, Communications & Partnerships Director, Viadeo
Platform integration is at the heart of next generation social networks. Creative developers are starting to spin a new web of integrated services through carefully constructed apps but do businesses get it? Can this move towards enhanced integration open doors to true virtual mobility for business users or are apps and APIs really just for consumers wanting to play Scrabble and raise virtual farm animals?
Web 2.0, the term coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2004, described the web’s shift from a passive to an active channel where it became the user themselves that controlled their online experience rather than website owners or omnipotent editorial teams.
Since O’Reilly’s conception of Web 2.0 six years ago there has been another evolution - the rise of the social web. Websites are now just one vector of a three-way dialogue between the site and their users and their users and each other as they compare experiences or recommend a site’s content, product or services.
The users themselves have also changed. Spending more time on social networks even than search engines according to Hitwise Intelligence, the modern internet user trusts peer recommendation and opinions posted online over corporate websites, advertising and even newspaper content (Nielsen). They have now come to expect not only to be able to view and buy products and services online but they also want to interact with the company and brand providing them.
In summary, internet users now want their web experience to be:
*Mobile - The ability to access a service across multiple platforms such as desktop, web, mobile or TV
*Personalised - Ability to change the website (or for the website to change itself) to be appropriate to their interests, preferences, location and profession
*Interactive - Ability to generate and amend content, make contacts online and give opinions
*Social - Ability to recommend products, services and experiences as well as receive recommendations from friends, contacts and colleagues
*Open - Ability to take their social or professional profile with them across the web
These needs are captured with the advent of platform integration – a function that allows content to be channelled from one website to be utilised or displayed by another and is rapidly becoming a standard feature of the online experience.
The most famous example of this feature must be the ubiquitous Facebook ‘Like’ button now splashed liberally across the web; this tool allows Facebook users to rate external content and have their opinion displayed in their Facebook news feed without ever having to leave the external site. As the web continues to evolve it seems likely that an “open” web facilitated by increased integration will continue to intensify whilst social media will become more powerful (privacy concerns not withstanding). Businesses, organisations and associations looking to keep up with the needs of their online users have the opportunity to take advantage of this social revolution and reap the benefits of qualified return visitors, increased engagement with their brand or site and higher conversion rates.
To read more about the potential applications of platform integration for business as well as the return benefits download the full version of the white paper.
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