‘Web 2.0’ could be described in short (though not comprehensively) as the transition to user-focused business models on the internet. Web 2.0 also views the internet as a social space, in a shift from the conception of the net as a technological space. The following video is a creative illustration of this idea:
The campaign that I ran for my entity was aiming to facilitate discussion and social interactions around the research produced by the research centre. All the Social Networking Sites (SNSs) that I used in the campaign help to achieve this goal. All four sites (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google +) have features that give users the ability to comment on content uploaded or shared by myself. The content I tried to use for my campaign are characterised as potentially controversial, thought-provoking, non-mainstream, and emotive. This is to encourage user engagement i.e. to like, share, and/or comment.
In addition, Web 2.0 is about the computer taking over the role of managing a large part of the technical details of online activities, enabling the user to focus on the production of content. In the case of my campaign for instance, it was very easy to set up the various social media platforms and configure them for the campaign’s purposes. Key technical steps like setting up email accounts and security (e.g. passwords, security questions and answers), setting up YouTube and Facebook accounts, uploading content, adding subtitles onto videos (although this step requires some more skills), are processes that can easily be carried out by many internet users today. Even more technical skills like adding subtitles onto videos using a video editing software such a Song Vegas Pro 13 for instance, can be acquired by doing a ‘Google search’, or say watching an online tutorial uploaded by another user on YouTube:
The Web 2.0 is also associated with users being provided the means to create and distribute content, as opposed to merely reading, watching, or listening to content during the Web 1.0 era. With reference to my campaign, it would not even be possible perhaps, were we not in the era of Web 2.0. Today, for a relatively limited amount of funds, people can create content that is ‘spreadable’. For example, short subtitled videos were made for my campaign, videos that could then easily be shared to tens, thousands, or even millions of people through SNSs such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (which is what I done).
However, central to the social media of Web 2.0 is a contradiction: it is simultaneously empowering and exploitative, controlling and freedom-giving. As opposed to production remaining in the hands of a small group (of usually wealthy) people, Web 2.0 gives ordinary users the promise of empowerment through production and consumption. I certainly felt empowered in the campaign I led for my entity, in the sense that I had the capability and means by which to greatly expand the reach and impact of my entity’s content (research papers). Certainly the owners of the entity would have felt more empowered by this potential aswell. Yet Web 2.0 also has its problems for the people using it. For instance, no matter how popular and famous the YouTube channel of my entity might become – gaining say 50,000 subscribers – this popularity and fame is not on very solid ground. Those 50,000 subscribers do not actually belong to my entity, nor does the YouTube channel itself. They belong to the YouTube company, and will always be owned by YouTube. This also applies to the other major SNSs aswell.
Yet there are ways to possibly benefit from the great social reach that SNSs provide, while simultaneously minimising sole reliance on them. For example, I used the following strategy for my campaign: the idea is to somehow use social media as a means, and not an end. In other words, the goal of my campaign was not only to distribute video content that promotes the research findings of the centre (my entity), but also to publicise the entity’s (hypothetical – for assignment purposes) website (www.acmes.com) as the central online location for all things related to the centre. So for example, although the centre’s videos are appearing on YouTube and Facebook, their primary location is on the entity’s website. The website is also the home to the centre’s research articles, its ‘latest news and events’, and other key information. The website belongs to the entity, whereas the entity’s YouTube channel and other SNS platforms do not – no matter how successful they become. It is for this reason that the website link of the entity was placed in the description area of all YouTube videos, suggesting to viewers that the website had more to offer than what could be found on YouTube (e.g. the research articles). The website link was also often publicised on the various SNSs that I used.
The benefits of reducing the almost total reliance of my entity on social media are numerous. In short, if any one of my entity’s social media channels or pages were to be closed down by the social media company for whatever reason, then at least a portion of that channel or pages’ subscribers or followers would be aware of a primary location at which they could remain in connection with the entity. In the case of the highly popular, award-winning, gaming-related YouTube network Yogscast, their main YouTube channel was taken offline by YouTube because “This account has been terminated due to repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines.” Fans of the network were able to keep in touch with the network through their Twitter feed (or as a last resort, through their website: www.yogscast.com). Eventually Yogscast’s main channel was allowed to go back online by YouTube, but this incident illustrates the importance of users not relying on social media pages that they do not really own. It also highlights the fragility of this apparent ‘ownership’ of these social media pages. Yogscast was lucky to be able to get its main channel back online, but for some other channels, their strenuous efforts building their presence on say YouTube from scratch, were simply turned off-line. They often have no choice but to build the channel up all over again, disconnecting thousands or millions of subscribers from the channel during the rebuilding process.
By thinking about my campaign through the scope of the Web 2.0 notion, I think I was able to create a campaign for my entity that not only exploited the huge potential that SNSs have in terms of media production and distribution, but also minimise the reliance that this use paradoxically creates upon social media companies. Admittedly, one area that my campaign could develop much more in the future is creating more incentives for users to engage with my campaign’s social media platforms and content. My campaign produced and distributed content that was consumed – especially the last video with over 1,600 video views in one week – but more emphasis should be laid on creating a social community around my campaign that would involve high levels of user engagement with my entity’s key messages.
Hinton, Sam. and Hjorth, Larissa. Understanding Social Media, 2013, Sage Publications, UK, pp. 1-30
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a
Networked Culture, 2013, New York & London: NYU Press
MMO Champion – Online Forums, 2013, accessed on April 22 2016, http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/1291522-YogsCast-Youtube-Channel-Closed-by-Youtube
Sony Vegas Pro 13: How to add subtitles like a boss – Tutorial #67, January 2016, accessed on April 22 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo8CMxjt7pY
Web 2.0…The Machine is Us/ing Us, January 2007, accessed on April 22 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE
 Hinton, Sam. and Hjorth, Larissa. Understanding Social Media, 2013, Sage Publications, UK, p. 7
 Ibid., p. 9
 Hinton, Sam. and Hjorth, Larissa. Understanding Social Media, 2013, Sage Publications, UK, p. 18
 Ibid., p 19
 Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a
Networked Culture, 2013, New York & London: NYU Press, p. 115
 Hinton, Sam. and Hjorth, Larissa. Understanding Social Media, 2013, Sage Publications, UK, p. 8
 Ibid., p . 19
 MMO Champion – Online Forums, 2013, accessed on April 4 2016, http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/1291522-YogsCast-Youtube-Channel-Closed-by-Youtube