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Jorge Pacheco
March 12, 2015

Understanding Web 2.0, Web 3.0 and Web 4.0

a woman pointing on tablet and holding a sticky note

We have all heard online or from marketers and web designers and developers fancy terms such as Web 2.0 or Web 3.0. We're not done trying to understand and digest one when a new one comes up in our face. As overwhelming as it might look, the everchanging Internet technology can be an advantage to any and every business if understood and used correctly. Let's start by briefly explaining what each of these terms stand for.

WEB 2.0

The Web 2.0 term was born in 2004 after a Next Generation Web Concepts and Issues conference held by O'Reilly Media and MediaLive International, and it is commonly attributed to Tim O'Reilly. It is the term used to define the second generation of Internet technology. It focuses on the ability to empower users to collaborate and share information online. This technology moves away from static and simply informational websites to a more dynamic and aggressive web environment where content is organized and communicated. Good examples of Web 2.0 are blogs, wikis, e-commerce sites with customer reviews and social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

Many businesses started to implement Web 2.0 internally as a means to connect their employees and share information domestically. Software's such as Oracle have done a great job with this kind of technology. However, the main challenge was to reach out to the main consumer outside the actual organization. The key was to engage with the business, create and collaborate in social environments. Having a blog is not enough, consumers need to get involved, they must be invited to participate. Online communities can be a powerful, faster and cheaper way to obtain consumer feedback than actual focus groups or surveys. An online community is not necessarily about the business, but about the consumer, which is what makes it even more powerful.

In a nutshell, Web 2.0 is about engaging consumers, giving them a reason for continued participation, listening to the conversation and taking action, resisting the temptation of hard selling (it's about the consumer, not you), and embracing experimentation.

Check out these videos:






WEB 3.0

This technology makes the Internet sort of a AI (Artificial Intelligence). With Web 3.0, users are able to analyze, retrieve and share information through personalized searches. Results are provided based on user behaviors learned by your browser. It makes the cyberspace a more open, more connected and more intelligent environment. So, in essence, searching and content delivery has greater significance, it is more relevant and has more value for users. 

With this said, Web 3.0 doesn't necessarily deliver what you, as a business, want to showcase for your customers. Instead, it delivers what the consumer wants from your business. It enables and empowers users even more than Web 2.0. 

What does this mean for your business? A good example is Google. Historically, when someone made a search, Google would look at your keywords and content quality and then deliver the results. Now, Google will also consider content relevancy, content sharing, who is sharing such content, your online connections, influencers, how you connect with your target and more. Then, based on this information and the user's behavior, Google will display results that are pertinent to each specific consumer. 

So, how should your business embrace Web 3.0? Here are a couple of suggestions:1. Take a look at your online presence and positioning – Do you need to re-visit your website structure and content? Are you using the right channels to deliver your story? Do your constituencies understand who you are and what you do?

2. Focus on content – Remember, Web 3.0 is not about hard selling products. It organically matches up your content based on user behavior. Create content that is specific for each social channel and be consistent with it. 

Check out these videos: 



WEB 4.0

This technology is all about mobility and the voice interaction between user and machine. Before, the user had to be at a desk in front of a computer to interact with the Internet, but mobile devices allow the user the continuous addition, sharing and distribution of information to the cyberspace. This is also known as the "Symbiotic Web" where what's relevant is the user's activity, not just the data and where the results are based on who the users are, what they do and what they need. 

Check out this video:



So, as web technologies evolve, so has business models. Many businesses are still stuck in the 90s or early 2000s in terms of their online strategies and even simple marketing tools such as their websites look like they were created with a word processor program. There is no online constituency engagement. 

Those businesses that have been successful with their online marketing have been open to experimentation with these new technologies. They have been willing to learn from their mistakes and successes as they go. After all, marketing is not an exact science.

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