Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays

Marketing with Widgets

It’s raining widgets! But we knew that already. They have taken over Facebook, are being adopted by Facebook’s competitors, and now media companies are catching on and starting to use them as ads known as Google Gadgets. A few months ago I posted some ideas and examples and even in just a few months the widgets have advanced and are being used in even more creative ways so I'd like to add to that original list with by expanding on the idea of a microsite widget.

Like the Google Gadget examples this type of implementation can go a long way beyond just advertising. I see this particularly useful for large websites where you can cross promote sections of your website. For example you can create a microsite of your products area and place it on the solutions area of your site. A product widget may include product shots, product datasheets, customer testimonial videos and news or reviews about the product. Mash it! You can also mashup the idea of a widget with an online game and include a game in the widget. This enhances the experience of your user who will not have to toggle back and forth between different sections of your site while at the same time making your site more interactive. Partner or office locators are other examples where this would be valuable.

Assuming you include an embed code in your creation, you can then leverage this same widget in your Social Media Release. Publishers and bloggers are then equipped with an easy way to enhance their story with an interactive widget. Partners and resellers who also promote your products can easily use the embed code to include the widget on your site.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Can you track it? Yes, it is hosted on your site so you can track impressions, interactions and embeds.
  • Can you update it? Again since it's hosted on your site when you update the content it is broadcasted to all of the sites that have picked up the widget.
  • Is it proven? No, it's new - there is little data to say the people prefer widget over traditional approaches but there's certainly a lot of buzz around widgets and there are always bigger returns for first movers. Go out on a limb in 2008 and see what happens!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Social Networking Gets a Suit and Tie

It's no secret that Social Networking is growing. In 2006 over half of B2B technology buyers visited social networking sites (2006 comScore World Metrix). The top business players in the space are LinkedIn and Plaxo and they are driving demand by delivering consistent product enhancements:

LinkedIn's Half Open Platform
LinkedIn will be opening their nework to "allow developers to build applications that run inside your LinkedIn account (via OpenSocial) and the far more useful and interesting part — ways to pull your LinkedIn data out and use it elsewhere."

What I like about their approach is that they are sticking to their roots. They are a 'professional network' so rather than taking the Facebook 'apps gone wild' approach, LinkedIn will be keeping tabs on the applications it allows on its network. What does this mean? You won't have to worry about hamburger fights and karate-chops.

Plaxo vs. Flock
I wrote about Flock in an earlier post - you know, the Social Media Web Browser. Well Plaxo (with it's Plaxo Pulse feed aggregator feature) has a different approach to keep you connected to all of your social networks. They've announced a new Outlook connector - being that Outlook is primarily a business application you can guess who this is built for (yet more proof point that Social Networking is not just for friends and teenagers). What's cool is that it's embedded into the what is still the primary communication tool in business - email. Enabling you to 'get a pulse' on your contact before sending them an email will make your message more meaningful therefore deepening your relationship with that contact. Are you ready to give your Outlook a pulse?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Marketing with Facebook

Still not convinced about the uptake of social networking? According to Alexa metrics, half of the top 10 sites in the world are social networking sites including YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Hi5 and Orkut.

I think Facebook offers a huge potential when it come to marketing. One out of 7 web visitors went to Facebook in the month of August. Some companies already see the value of Facebook and use it as a way to communicate to customers (like a new kind of email). However this seems to make the most sense for B2C customers - this is what I'm told. Although I agree that B2C companies have the most to gain I don't think it's a channel that B2B customers want to rule out.

First off, let's get over the myth that Facebook is for college kids. Not anymore! Over half (56%) of Facebook users are over 25 and 45% of those are over 35! They are likely to be college educated and employed with mid-level management positions. They may not be your decision makers but they certainly are influencers. Therefore shouldn't you be talking to these people? With such a low barrier to entry (free account set-up) - what do you have to lose, besides a little time being social?

Okay, so if you're ready to take the red pill, this presentation from Charlene Li of Forrester provides additional demographics, case studies and best practices for marketers.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Round up

  • Fast Company does a nice job of covering the history and future of blogging from a revenue generating, not traffic generating, perspective. They also provide a list of the most popular blogs as determined by Technorati’s link counting system. Definitely some interesting bloggers out there.
  • Latest update on OpenID. Bringing pretty robust identity management features to the social web. I’d suggest reading the article and the comments as some really great questions that were not in the article are addressed. Until now, the benefits of “single sign on” have been confined to proprietary domains.
  • More affirmation that browser-based, casual gaming is gaining steam. For those thinking of out-of-the-box ways to use Web 2.0, gaming is a great option as I discussed previously here.
  • Farhad Manjoo reports on the ongoing Facebook/Beacon debacle that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook has finally given in and will allow users to turn Beacon completely off – as opposed to the partial concession made last week.