Web 2.0 users are now sharing content and private information online increasingly freely. According to a study by consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, although 61% of users on MySpace upload material intended only for themselves and their friends, only 39% bother to restrict access to the general public.
These communities are increasingly representative of the population - with people from all ages as well as women and women using Web 2.0 sites - and the consultancy notes that they play an important role in opinion-forming. Nearly half of UK MySpace users for instance are happy to use purchasing recommendations from their peers, which implies new ways of forming opinions and making buying decisions.
Businesses should therefore respond to such trends to make sure that the shift in consumer behaviour does not have an adverse impact on customer acquisition and retention.
Companies could use these new community channels as marketing tools to form positive product opinions as well as getting feedback on products and services.
Review by Emilie Filou