Internet users have been named Person of the Year 2006 by prestigious Time Magazine. They have indeed largely contributed to numerous Internet success stories such as MySpace, YouTube, Digg, etc. Thanks to them, the world has gained a few new billionaires this year. What do they have in store for 2007? Will they be as diligent in creating content and interacting online?
In 2007, businesses will definitely attempt to make better use of the content generated by Internet users. Since 2006 was the year of new sites based on the effort of Internet users, 2007 will probably be the year that content generated by users will expand from the few dozen sites that have been monopolizing all their time.
Evidently, we have to expect the birth of more niche models inspired by the leaders of the moment. We shouldn’t be surprised to see established businesses attempt to use the creativity and quality of Internet users’ interventions in order to add more value to their site. Certain innovative businesses already use them extensively and have reaped important benefits. Consider for example, the advertisements that were put together by the product’s consumers instead of by an ad agency, or consumer comments that caused radical changes to products, or even tagging generated by Internet users that allows a product to be found in a manner other than by reference to its category.
But is this really the will of Internet users? Do they really want to contribute their time to increase the performance businesses? Even though the current models currently offer them free services without asking for anything in return, will businesses be able to convince users to invest in them?
We have to expect reward systems of a different nature to appear to entice Internet users to invest in a particular site. Why would they tag a song one a particular music site rather than on another?
One thing is clear: it will be crucial for companies to be as creative as internet users have been in 2006 in order to attract them.