The term Web 2.0 refers to the Internet's second, evolutionary phase. While the first phase included breakthroughs such as email and basic websites, today's Web 2.0 is interactive. Tools such as blogs and discussion boards encourage dialogue. Videos, podcasts, recorded multimedia presentations and live online meetings help people connect and build rapport in a fraction of the time and more cost effectively than ever before.
Fans of Web 2.0 see information as more useful and relevant when it's openly accessible, so that anyone can comment on or contribute to the conversation. This is the world of user-generated content.
Internet experts believe the next generation of the Web -- Web 3.0 -- will make tasks like searching for movies and food faster and easier. Instead of multiple searches, you might type a complex sentence or two in your Web 3.0 browser, and the Web will do the rest. The Web 3.0 browser will analyze your response, search the Internet for all possible answers, and then organize the results for you.
Many of these experts believe that the Web 3.0 browser will act like a personal assistant. As you search the Web, the browser learns what you are interested in. The more you use the Web, the more your browser learns about you and the less specific you'll need to be with your questions.
We are already seeing this type of personal assistance on our mobile phones. I just swapped my Android for an iPhone 4S and am playing around with “Siri” which lets me use my voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more.
“Ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk,” says the iPhone literature. “Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back. Siri is so easy to use and does so much, you’ll keep finding more and more ways to use it.”
Embracing The New
It’s a good thing I’m headed down to Dallas this week for the 7th annual T3 Technology Tools for Today conference. I plan to pick the brains of all the technology wizards there and, hopefully, take another step forward on the ever-evolving technology path.
I’ll also be shooting some video with the help of a cameraman/producer to share on the T3 site. Video is one of the must-have communication tools in today’s business world and, since we will all more and more be asked to appear on camera, we might as well start mastering the art of delivering interesting sound bites. So if you’re attending the T3 conference, don’t be shy—stop by the video station and record a few comments for the conference highlights reel.
In addition to learning how to be on camera, we all need to get our arms around creating video and multimedia presentations. Since popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow users to share interesting links, having your own video on the major sites drastically increases your chances of exposure. People are more likely to share an interesting video they came across, rather than an article, and having some video or a multimedia presentation on your website or blog will increase trust and overall engagement.
The good news is that video creation is no longer the complicated process it once was. Small hand-held video cameras and web cams built right into our computer screens and smart phones make it very easy to capture video content. Services such as Brainshark, BrightTalk and Camtasia make it easy to record and layer in together music, voice, photos, charts, Power Point slides, animation and video clips. The trick, I think, is making the video or multimedia presentation engaging.
How Advisors Are Using Video And Multimedia
Here are some examples of advisors who are using video and multimedia to enhance perceptions online:
-- John Barton, a CFP® based in Wichita, created a nice series of educational videos by flying into a studio in St. Louis. This turnkey solution is offered by a company called Comunicato (http://www.comunicatovideo.com). You can see John’s video clips on his site: http://centerpointewealth.com.
-- Christian Koch, a CFP based in Atlanta, had the insight and perspective to hire the custom artistic team at Thrasher Photo and Design to create his video using Canon 5D Mark II professional cameras, iMac computers, and LaCie video drives, plus Final Cut Pro Editing Suite for video and Adobe CS5 Professional Suite for design and titles. You can see Christian’s videos here on a profile page he maintains as a supplement to his website.
-- Andy Millard, a CFP® based in North Carolina, used something like Camtasia or Brainshark to create this multimedia presentation for his blog: http://www.andymillard.blogspot.com/2012/02/2012-td-ameritrade-institutional.html. He also has simpler video clips on his site – this one was done using just his web cam: http://www.andymillard.blogspot.com/2011/12/replaying-global-economys-effects-on.html
Here’s a compelling video on the digital revolution and some information on Talk Fusion, a turnkey video email system for advisors: http://www.impactproductionsgroup.com.
So What Ideas Can You Bring to Life Via Web 2.0 Technologies?
Here's the place to start:
1. Add variety to your site that may be missing. Use multimedia clips, video and graphics to bring your site to life. Here’s an example of how Navigator Legacy Partners uses a white paper library, a newly-published book and a video on the home page to add interest and draw people in: http://navigatorlegacypartnersllc.com
2. Display some of your own interests or passions (and perhaps those of your associates) on your business site or business Facebook page. For example, link to a fundraiser for your kids' school or post some of your travel photos or civic service photos. Here’s an example of how Searcy Financial does it: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Searcy-Financial-Services/185212901283?sk=photos
4. Add an online newsroom for credibility. Include thumbnail graphics of the articles or logos of the publishing company, along with a short news summary and a link back to the publication’s site. Here’s an example of a news page as well as the use of video on the home page to capture interest and build credibility: http://www.exemplarfnadvisor.com
5. Offer a virtual vault where clients can view documents such as wills, trusts, insurance policies and aggregated investment account balances. Services include www.eMoney.com, www.EstateLogic.com, www.miagd.com, www.netdocuments.com and http://www.advisorproducts.com/products/websites/advisorvaultct.aspx.
6. Create an interactive, engaging process for newcomers using a web-based financial road map system such as the one financial advisor James Brewer uses: http://www.boulevardr.com/br/planner/profile.jsf?id=jamesbrewer
Using technology to create a two-way exchange of information and sense of live interconnectivity is what Web 2.0 is really all about. By exploiting the web's latest attributes, you can make your life easier, build rapport with clients, impress strategic partners and win market share.
Next week, the Marketing Maven will discuss target-marketing strategies used by your financial advisor peers and how you can build a rich niche.
On the conference front, I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and new at the T3 Technology Tools for Today Conference: Feb. 16-18 in Dallas. Look for my staff members, who will be stationed just outside of the exhibit hall; they will be showing advisors how to record video postcards such as the one you see here: http://bit.ly/AaBCOP Follow updates on the 2012 T3 Conference on Twitter using hashtag #T32012.