A new generation of Web builders are coming - 5 tips to be ready

Fri, Apr 20th, 2012 | Tags: mozilla open source marketing building particpation

TODAY = the Facebook generation, consuming, wasting time, trying to be something.

TOMORROW = a generation of makers, tinkerers, creating value, building tomorrow.

In the next five years more people will code, more kids will remix, more people will expect to participate.

Open source at its very core has thrived and grown by allowing anyone to get involved, fostering collaboration, and striving for openness. As a company out there, chances are you have a social media presence and have therefore, already begun experimenting with community involvement with your brand. However, it is only skimming the surface of what is to come.

Here are 5 considerations that will help you prepare for the next generation of Web makers ready to be put to work.

#1 Reduce the barrier to participation. If you have a strong social media presence on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, identify your biggest fans, encourage them to become brand advocates and help other users with support issues. Reward them, get to know who are the most loyal and active fans. Maybe at some point in the future you’d give them access to your accounts to post on your behalf? Takes a lot of trust, but it is not impossible. When you allow your trusted fans inside your house; they are overwhelmingly your loyal devotees.

#2 Let customers build your product. The Web makes testing and garnering feedback easier than ever. Give your users an easy way to provide their thoughts on product experience or ideas for future needs. Those who reply often, invite them to join a special task force who will test and build the next generation product. Invite them to your office, or a weekend event. Treat them as equals and listen to the great advice they will give.

#3 Find solutions outside of your walls. Open innovation is gaining momentum. If there are problems you can’t solve inside your org, look beyond your R&D team. Online communities such as Innocentive are finding solutions for companies, governments and non-profits in the open from all over the world. It helps to look outside of your industry and geography for answers. We often think too narrowly and do not open our world to other impressions. Beyond open innovation, talk to a wide range of people often from all walks of life. It will change your perspective and may even create your next success.

#4 Strive for transparency. Even if you are a Fortune 500 company, there are still numerous ways you can be more transparent. Do your customers know what happens to their data, do you have a privacy policy longer than 5 pages? If so, you are not being transparent. Strive to inform your customers about how your business is run, they will thank you in the long term. Then allow your customers to control their web experience - many companies (e.g. Yahoo ) are building privacy control centers. Take in a primary principle of open source, and put the user front and center. Kick start educating your customers, inform them early and start building user control functions. Trust me, it will soon be a business table stake that all users will demand.

#5 Give back. Not everyone can completely open source their code, not even a little, and some have no code to share at all. That said, we all have something we can give back in terms of knowledge sharing, expertise or perhaps even code. Companies are stronger the more they can create and / or be part of an eco-system. It will create new ideas, foster innovation in new ways and bring forward potential new hires. Can you help a local school or community center? Can you check a piece of code into GitHub? The more you give, the more you’ll get back.

Things to remember on this journey: people are basically good, put the customer at the center and think non-linear.

Open source at its very core has thrived and grown by allowing anyone to get involved, reducing the barriers of participation, fostering and nurturing collaboration, striving for openness and innovation.

Embrace the principles of open source, and you’ll be ready to welcome the soon to be newly minted innovators, artists, and storytellers.

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