Have been doing some work on a Web 2.0 seminar/event, omigod. Or more correctly, omigod, my internet strategy is SOOO irrelevant.

The seminar is about the very significant changes that have occurred on the internet over the past 12 or 18 months in the development of social software in particular. The phenomenon of MySpace, the flickr explosion, podcasting, continued growth in blogs and tags…

CEO’s who don’t stay close to this stuff need to re-think. Here’s why.

Although there are obvious victims, eg newspapers who are losing the classified advertising business to web databases, there are implications for almost every business. The youth market is taking over the internet and they will grow up owning the medium in the same way that old people currently own opera. The youth market is a counter-culture. They don’t like big, established brands. That’s why big companies like News Ltd and even Yahoo and eBay are buying small successful web businesses.

Youth have an expanding capacity to share information and they’re hungry for it. And when I say they’re looking for information I’m not talking about your product list and a corporate profile. Because the youth market IS a search engine and they are looking beyond your sales territory and beyond what you want to tell them. They are looking for informed, credible, third party assessments of your products and your competitors’. They are looking to see if the product can be bought cheaper overseas or interstate. They want to deal with a company they like the feel of. If you look like a big, respectable, conventional company you’re probably exactly the sort of company they’re looking to avoid.

Increasingly they are on the net, not watching your ads on TV. Recent research in the UK shows that on average, across all demographics, people now spend more time on the net than watching TV. The more internetworked kids are, the more their information comes from their peers. The more search-aggressive those kids are, the more “information currency” they can use with their peer group to build status.

Now you might be thinking, thank God I don’t rely on the youth market. Alas, their influence is spreading! Adults are already aware of their kids’ search skills and internet savvy. Kids earn kudos by telling their parents useful sites on the internet. The kids get to do the research if the adults don’t have time. And they don’t have time. You don’t have time, do you? So the spread of information from kids to parents will accelerate.

The shift that is happening is a social shift, it’s no longer about the technology. It’s about connecting with people, meeting people, networking in new ways. This social shift is what’s going to affect your business. The technology is irrelevant to the process and it’s not what we’ll be talking about at the seminar. We’ll be talking about how businesses can improve their relevance.

The nets (by which I mean the internet and mobile phone networks) are the platforms on which these opportunities are developing. CEO’s need to re-appraise these platforms so they can relevantise their offerings. It’s a new word. You’re allowed to do that now.


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