Companies, firms, businesses- they’re evolving! Sort of.

At this point we’ve seen what the era of Web 2.0 has meant in terms of social networking for users, but what happened to the professional corporations and organizations that used to dominate the Internet? Were they pushed into irrelevance, or did they adapt? As Kaplan and Haenlein explore, it turns out, it was a little bit of both.

When Web 2.0 took off with the Californian Ideology, the idea behind embracing it was the freedom of information and speech that it offered. Users were rebelling against corporations and taking this new era of the Internet into their own hands (Barbrook). This relegated corporations to the sidelines, as they no longer had control over what people were saying about them online. The age of Web 2.0 had put social networking in the hands of users and it had become a weapon to be turned against firms and businesses. Kaplan and Haenlein define a parameter of user-generated content as having been created outside of professional practices, which does not bode well for those professional practices (Haenlein). They go on to explain that Web 2.0 has created an environment of social networking that encourages users to be more widespread and socially driven.

While this may not seem like entirely new information, Kaplan and Haenlein make their paper incredibly interesting and engaging by explaining what they see as sub-categories of Web 2.0 Social Media, and then explaining what companies can do to engage on social media. According to their paper, social media can be categorized as collaborative projects, blogs, content communities, virtual game world, or virtual social worlds, all of which come with their own benefits and risks to be used by companies. However, what is really remarkable about this paper is that they then go on to advise companies on how to be engaging on social media, which includes advice such as picking their medium carefully, making it accessible, and being humble (Haenlein).

This paper connected directly to our lecture content, and then went even further. We’ve seen how Web 2.0 created what is now arguably a necessity for social networking because of the way it is centered on user-generated content, which this paper talked about as well. However, our lecture content also covered how throughout history it was the elites that had the power and the information, and Web 2.0 made it about the user, and flipped that dynamic. What is so interesting about this paper is that it shows that even though social networking is so user-centric and necessary, it has done more than just reversed the power dynamics. Yes, it has put the power in the hands of the users, but professional companies are adapting. However, this does not mean that the dynamic will revert back to the Web 1.0 era of exclusive published content, but rather that social networking as a result of Web 2.0 has equalized consumers and businesses, and in this new era of users, it is time for the “elites” to catch up.

Works Cited

Haenlein, Michael and Kaplan, Andreas. “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media ”. Business Horizons, 2010, pp. 59–68.

Barbrook, Richard and Cameron, Andy. “The Californian Ideology”. Alamut Bastion of Peace and Information, Aug. 1995, Accessed 03 Oct. 2016.

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