Archive for the 'widgets' Category

10 reasons why you have no business launching a widget, yet.

“Whip up some numbers that make it look like we have, like, I don’t know, a thousand HD channels.” – Cable Corp, Inc. VP

You know those DirectTV spots that have been running as of late? A bunch of suits sitting around trying to guess what the customer might want. That’s happening a lot lately. What’s funny is that in a lot of situations, these groups have some really talented people sitting at these tables and yet they blamestorm or better yet, come up with really shitty ideas that are fast-tracked. I don’t get that. How can good smart people come up with such bad stuff? That’s probablyy a whole ‘nuther blog post in and of itself but for today we’re going to talk about something that I guarantee you is on the lips of some of these aformentioned people. Widgets.

I got a great idea, lets make a widget, that should drive some major traffic!

 

You don’t have a clue do you?

Reason #1 You probablly have heard of a widget but in actuality you don’t have a clue as to what they are. Widgets are essentially cute little applications that you can run on your desktop that will entertain you, provide informtaion, keep you in the loop etc. All in little snippets.  Here’s an example.

This widget helps you find cheap gas in your area. Good luck with that.

 

 

So anyways, you’re a marketer or an executive and you’ve now heard of these and sorta seen them in action and you think, we need widgets. Which leads to:

Facebook, what’s Facebook?

Reason #2 You probably don’t even know where to put your “company created” widget. Do you even know where to put it? “ok it’s built, now what”? If you’re group created it, does your company have a Facebook presence to support it since that’s generally where they thrive? How about a blog?

My audience is…

Reason #3 To build and distribute your widget, that would mean that you know exactly who are your target audience is and know that they would benefit from a widget. How well do you know your customer?

Let’s sell something and cut to the chase!

Reason #4 You will probabally bust out the sales speak on your widget and the pitch will be oozing all over your widget because you think it’s a way to sell more product. Wrong. Widgets are about branding, are about fun and are about entertainment. Though utility driven widgets are useful, they do not have the same impact as one that needs to be shared with others.

Yea we have a website, my son built it at school..

Reason #5 If your internet presence is not where it needs to be then you really don’t need to be jumping into the mix with a widget. To begin with, how do you rank organically in the search engines. What about any type of online presence? Does it exist? It’s one thing to brand a new product, but how about establishing some branding objectives for an existing product or company? What if your outfit has some negative stuff out there in cyberspace? What’s a widget going to do?

Customer service 101 and our monthly email blast

Reason #6 If you’re not talking to your customers, then you have no idea what your customers would want from a widget. If your marketing efforts are intrusion based, then chances are your widget would be the same.  If you’re talking at them, then chances are, your widget is going to miss the mark. If your marketing efforts consist of a monthly email blast with hundreds of bounce backs, then you got it going on.

If we build it, they’ll come

Reason #7 If you think your widget is going to drive traffic and sales, then you’re missing the point. Widgets are about building brand loyalty. Successful widgets encourage, promote, gather, share, and provide ways to communicate with…ta da… your customer. And ultimately a successful widget is viral.

I heard it works, isn’t that enough?

Reason #8 You don’t know what you want, and you don’t even use them, nor do you have any familiarity about them. Ahh that makes sense, let’s do it! Doesn’t it make sense to test drive something before you adopt it? Before you launch something, shouldn’t you see if its something that you are comfortable with? Do some research, knucklehead, don’t just listen to me! Here’s a nice snippet on What is a good widget from Phil Butler.

Just do it, we’ll worry about the little stuff later

Reason #9 You can’t build it on the notion or the premise that you hope it will work. You need to have a clear idea of why you’re doing it and what your expectations are. Is your message clear or will it be? Do you know what you want the deliverables to be? How you are going to measure the results?  If building a widget is something that came up in a meeting, move onto something more tangible.

The competition is doing it and thats good enough for me

Reason #10  Widgets can be and are a logical extension of your brand, but only if you’re knee deep in the online world.  You can’t just have a brochure ware type of site and expect that to be enough to push your brand over the top with a widget supporting it. The customer, the user, that you are trying to reach, is doing more now with the tools provided, than ever before.  Widgets, blogs, pod-casts, online video, pr, and microsites/landing pages are all ways to extend the reach of your brand online. But first things first. Make sure your offline house is in order and then do the requisite online things necessary before you even think about having the conversation about launching a widget. 

Have you had success building and launching a widget? have a horror story? Know of a clueless boss? What Sayeth you?

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Social Media begs the following 50 questions:

Below are 50 questions that prior to the creation of social networks, had no home. But now, all of these questions have a relavent place in the hiearchy that is “social networking” and thus needed to be answered. Because, though there are millions upon millions of people out there that know about social networks, there are millions that are clueless. Before we start answering these questions, are there any that I might have neglected or forgot to ask? Let’s get to it then.

  • What is a social network? For this answer we head to Youtube. You can watch it now, or come back to it.

 

  • Is it like MySpace? Well maybe we should qualify what MySpace is!
  • What’s Facebook?
  • Is it like blogging? Hmmmm…first, let’s explain what blogging is!
  • How does it work? Social networks are  networks of relationships that we have formed that tie us to others that may have a something in common with us. Think the 6 degrees of separation game. Think about what happens when you meet someone new. You ask where they work, where they grew up, where they went to school etc etc. Eventually, you realize that this person knows the girl that you work with and is a relative of your best friends boss.  Even though you’ve never met before, you’re both part of the same social network — a friend of a friend if you will. So, Social-networking sites “make off-line relationships more transparent” by allowing us to see (with pictures, videos and links) who our friends are, who our friends’ friends are, and who our friends’ friends’ friends are — all in a supposed easy-to-use format. Like a MySpace or Facebook. When you create a profile on a social-networking site, you are putting yourself out there and saying, “Hey world here I am, who knows me? and who wants to be my friend? and who do you know?” You can use the social site to:
    • look up old friends; make new ones
    • share music, photos and videos
    • join groups based on interests such as politics, hobbies, sports, religion or pets.
    • find jobs or love; or network with other professionals.
  • Are you on MySpace or Facebook? If you are 18-34, This might be one of the key face to face questions you may ask of someone within the first 5 minutes of meeting them.
  • What do I do with it? Here is an interesting response from Marcel de Ruiter and his blog Shaping Thoughts
  • How many social networks can I join? According to Mashable, last year there were 350 that they thought were worth mentioning, but I imagine that that number has grown exponentially. Pick your niche and I bet you can find a social network for it!
  • How many hours should I spend in social networks? Although Jennifer Laycock has some thoughts on this, I’d say this depends on what you want to get out of your social network. Depending on the number of social networks you join, you really should pick just a few and develop those. It really should amount to time spent once you are home from work or school. But not to the extent that your school work or your job performance starts to suffer.
  • How can I grow my business with social networks? Entrepreneur.com has a great piece on how to grow your business using social media. But make sure you have a firm foundation and understanding of what you are getting into before setting out. This also will allow you to ask better questions, should you choose to have someone grow your business with the help of social media.
  • What is the value proposition of being in a social network? According to Jill Konrath “A value proposition is a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services. The more specific your value proposition is, the better. ”  However Jim Long seems to have nailed by saying that “At the end of the day, isn’t the value proposition that it connects people on a deeply personal level across time and geography? I think so, Jim…
  • What do I get? It all depends on what you want. Just like anything else, what you get out of it is in direct proportion to what you put into it.
  • Am I spending my time properly by being in or on a social network? A great post on this sits here, titled “Avoiding information and conversational overload from social media” My thanks again to Jennifer Laycock
  • Am I using it right? There is no right way or wrong way, though if you do nothing with a page that you have created, then chances are, not much will happen with it. Remember, the essence of social networking is to find your voice and find others who have the same voice. Finding others just like you is one of the primal instincts of mankind and animals alike. We like to run with our packs. Find your pack and the experience will be golden.
  • Am I using it wrong? See the above answer.
  • How do I know the difference between Facebook and MySpace?. Chris Salazar has an excellent post on this exact question, so for those who truly do not know the difference between the two check it out.
  • Do the developers really know what I want and care about on a social network? Of course they do… to a certain extent. Social networking sites are not successful unless they know or have an idea what people want. And ever since Facebook opened up their development platforms, the widgets are flying in. Widgets expand the things that you can do with your page and actually help you network with others.
  • Do I care what they do with my information? You should, so watch this:

 

  • If I am not on a social network, will I be scorned? Absolutely not. One of the biggest constraints to SN is the allocation of time that one has to set aside to “do this”. If you don’t have time, then thats fine. That would generally mean that you have your days and evenings filled with work, school and family obligations, in which case, there is nothing you can do about it and bridges will not be burned if you are not part of a social network.
  • Should I worry about social media and its effect on children? If you are a parent, if you do not do anything, then it’s like swimming in an undertow, you swim at your own risk. To not monitor what your children are doing online, not only in a social network setting, but in general, is foolish and ignorant. For more information on this subject try Connect Safely
  • What about predators in social networks? All you need to know on this subject can be found on the link, but if you are a parent you need to be vigilant and if you are a kid, just be smart.
  • Is social media measurable? According to Jeremiah Owyang “For many marketers who want to deploy a campaign on a social network, access to server metrics isn’t always available. As a result, they have to often visually monitor the interaction on the site, or measure click throughs to their site. In some of the more sophisticated platforms, a crude dashboard is provided.”
  • Is there a niche site out there for me? If so what can I do with a social networking site that is geared especially to my interests? There are tons of niche sites, in fact, in this blog, if you do a search and just title it top social sites, you should find something, better yet, here are the latest numbers for February of the top 25 social networking sites.
  • Isn’t it the same thing as chat and online forums and bbs’s? Yes and no. That is more Web 1.0 and social networking sites are more Web 2.0. Bbs’s are and were more static and had zero real time applications to them. Chat is and was real time but did not have the other tools attached to make the chat expereince more interactive and fullfilling. Social networks are more about sharing and creating and communicating. Its more about user generated content. Chat is just what it is, it’s talking and nothing more, to a certain extent.
  • It’s difficult for me to use, isn’t there a simpler way of doing it? Its going to get easier. As each iteration of social media evolves it will become more user friendly, more intuitive, and easier to set up. Remember, we are talking about something that is still really in its infancy.
  • Are there social networks for minorities? There are, though social networks are not, for the most part, geared towards any specific race, creed or color. There are some social networks, however.  that are geared more towards people of color. A primary example of this would be Black planet
  • If social networks are so cool, then shouldn’t they be available to the disadvantaged? That’s a great question and one that needs to be thrown out there for more discussion. Stanford University, touches on it here, but not to the level that it really deserves.
  • Will society eventually look down upon people who are not associated with a particular social network? I hope not, but if were to look into my crystal ball, it would seem to be heading towards a society where each person has a social network that he or she is a part of. To the degree that eventually your ID and who you are is also supported by your social network. Similar to Second Life, your social network will define you as much as your offline persona.
  • Why do I need it? You don’t. It’s a choice that you will come to on your own, once you get done reading the news, answering your email, doing a search, paying your bills and looking for flights.
  • What should I do with it? Again, it’s entirely up to you. Do nothing or you can do a little, or you can jump in with both feet. It’s your choice.
  • How is it going to improve my quality of life? The quality of your life is often defined by your friends and family and your job. Taking those 3 into the context of a social networking setting you could: Connect with friends you have not seen in a long time. Improve your relationships with existing friends.  You can connect with relatives that do not live close by. and lastly you can connect and use the power of social networks to either network with colleagues, find a new job, or improve the job or career you have now. How’s that?
  • How far can I take it? The possibilites are really quite endless.
  • What is the shelf-life for a social network? As of this writing, the big boys have no reason to believe that things will not get even better. However for the niche sites, because the business model is often supported by ad revenues, it will be tough. Though niche sites have a great value proposition, the numbers in regards to people will have to be somewhat strong for them to survive. And that remains to be seen.
  • Should I wait before I jump into a social network? You can take baby steps. You can try out some smaller sites or niche sites or even a shopping site for instance to just get a feel for what types of information is required, how much of yourself you want to put “out there” and what to expect in return. You will find that the larger sites are much more active, but in some cases, might be overwhelming. Take your time. Poke around.
  • If I was to use a social network, what would be the best one to use and why? A good question, Obviously the top 2 are always referenced but start with this top 25 and see if in the list, there is one that might catch your eye.
  • What separates a good social network from a bad one? Users, tools, content, and the technology. Is it always down? aAe there many users to begin with? What are some of the tools, widgets and applications they are offering that make a social network so fun to use? do they have a lot, a little? Ask yourself if this is the right group for you and go from there. Do some sleuthing, sign up and see, if not, just walk away.
  • Whats a widget and why do I care? You should. It’s what makes a social media experience that much richer. To quote Wikipedia just once, “A widget adds some content to that page that is not static. Other terms used to describe web widgets including: gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, mini and flake. Web widgets often but not always use DHTML, JavaScript, or Adobe Flash
  • Whats a mashup? Almost to the tee, a mashup is a way of combining more than one type of app with another to create a completely unique application.  It combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool;  thereby creating a new and distinct web service that was not originally provided by either source. A classic example of a mashup is the combining of peanut butter and chocolate.. what did we get?   Fill in the blank____________
  • Does that matter to me? Yes and know, eventually all that you will want may be the result of a mashup.
  • How do I even attempt to create my own “page”? Thats the beauty of CMS and user generated content. No offense, but developers have really dumbed it down so that it really is quite simple to create and make your own page. And if you make a mistake, you can always go back and start over. Nothing is rarely etched in stone.
  • What kinds of time does it take to devote to social networking? Your time management skills will be tested, especially if you find your voice and your peeps. Eventually you may find yourself doing nothing but rushing home and jumping on your machine to check out your page and any action that might be associated with it. If it starts to hinder work and school, then you need to chill. Plain and simple.
  • Will corporate America take over social networks? It has to a certain degree With Newscorp buying MySpace and Microsoft sinking millions into an ad deal with Facebook, it’s inevitable that it is to happen. There is a lot of money at stake to be made and to lose, and corporate America isn’t about losing propositions. Can you say Murdoch and Gates?
  • Is there a place for social networks in society? Or is it a fad? They are here to stay. Though the social networks that you see now, may not be the social networks you see in 5 years. A lot can and will alter and change the look and feel and especially the technology running these networks, so stay tuned.
  • Don’t web developers just use it for driving traffic to websites? Some do. Social Media and Search engines have a major love-fest going on and it did not take search marketers long to figure that out.
  • Aren’t social media sites like just for collecting names so that I get hit on by advertisers? Yes and no. But right now that is the revenue model for most highly trafficed sites. Don’t forget, all of the sites we are talking about are free, so how else are they supposed to make money? Advertising and having access to the user information drives that train.
  • Will it help me get a job? There is a nice niche group of business related social networking sites. So the answer is yes.
  • Can I get famous? Maybe for the wrong reasons, though some seem to have carved out a niche for themselves say for example on You Tube.
  • Can I get a date? It’s possible, there are some social sites geared towards dating. Facebook actually has that potential, so we’ll go ahead and say yes.
  • Can I make lots of money? Again it’s possible. The potential lies within you, to leverage it the way you see fit.
  • It’s used to build brands right? Absolutely. Marketers are starting to realize that using social networks to build, promote and grow brands is and can be a very effective way to reach a sometimes unapproachable and skeptical audience.
  • Social networks are set up to influence purchasing decisions right? They can be. They can be used to support and promote products that ultimately you the consumer may buy. More and more marketers are setting up product-centric social networks in which the users are consumers and buyers of that product.
  • Why should I join one? Because everyone else seems to be talking about it and to not at least experience the power of it wouldn’t be any fun.

 

Well there you have it. Some answers are better than others. Some require more elaboration than I was willing to give and ultimately, I  may have left out a few that did not come to mind. That’s why you people are here. To help me out, to grow a powerful KB for those who do not know enough about the power of the social network.

Cheers

Customer Acquisition in Social Media Marketing

After reading this entry in Top Rank Blog about tips for marketing with social media, something crossed my mind. Though there were some great tips on things that people can do to use the power of social meda to bolster marketing, I was not seeing THE sure fire way. It was gray. I think it’s still gray, and I’ll tell you why.

Lets take for example Client A. Client A wants to use social media, has heard about social media or at least has heard about blogs for example, and wants to use it to drive traffic to his or her sites, increase sales and or use it for branding purposes. That seems to be a safe assumption for most companies.

Well those are all well and good, but first things first. Where does the client go? You have consultants running around out there claiming to know how to do it, but by the looks of the tips. I saw nothing that was a “business process”. I saw a here try this, or this works, or a you might want to try this or I have seen that…..Get the point? A client needs to know what are you going to do, how are you going to do it, how long is it going to take, and what will I get from your efforts, amongst other things.

The problem is, with social media, though you can measure traffic to a certain degree, the “process” or the initiation of a social media campaign is not an overnight phenomenon. there are some instances of it occurring from a viral marketing standpoint but It’s a process that needs to be cultivated. The issue that most clients have with this business model is that they don’t have time to nurture their presence in social networks. Their businesses require immmediate results and returns.

Businesses know this and need to know this: 1) Here is my customer I know what it takes to acquire this customer via this form of advertising, sales and marketing and channel. 2) Here is my customer, what is it going to cost me to acquire that customer through social media? And what are the steps that you are going to take and what are they going to cost me for you to achieve that? After you first explain to me what social media is…

After they ask you “Is it like Myspace”? 

If you the social media marketer come to me and say, “We’re going to create a Facebook group for you, A couple of blogs, maybe a bbs, a couple of microsites, and we’re also going to Twitter and use Stumbleupon as well as a handful of others.” I’m first going to say, “Huh?  and then “ok, what is that going to do”? And you’ll say, “We’re branding you, and we’re driving traffic to these sites and pages and they’re finding out more about you”!.  To which I will say, “Thats great, how many sales can I expect? What kind of conversion rates can I expect from social media???” At that point I better get a really good answer or another plan that perhaps uses a widget or two that is placed in strategic social media sites that can drive traffic and convert sales.

 That’s the real question, or rather one of the many questions. Here they are and you might want to use them as you are approached by social media marketers or companies who will claim to know what they are doing.

  • What is your social media plan?
  • Do I need sales, leads or traffic
  • What types of social media do you plan to use and why those? and why not these?
  • What will be the upfront costs? What ongoing costs can I expect?
  • What will be the costs of customer acquisition? A cost per acquisition model certainly applies here!
  • How long will it take to roll this plan out
  • What kinds of deliverables can I expect and when
  • What is your track record
  • Have you ever worked with this type of product or my type of company before?
  • How successful have you been
  • What will it take to manage it on my own
  • Lets focus on some deliverables
  • Lets set some benchmarks with incentives
  • What is your plan to integrate this social media plan with our other marketing plans
  • What if you fail
  • What guarantees do I have
  • References

The key here is alot of agencies are starting to add social media as it’s own division within their companies. Though there are very few companies and agencies who have done it right over a sustained period of time, because of the “new-ness” of it all. It’s up to you to figure out who can deliver what, and in what time frame. The last thing you need is for someone or some company to experiment with your brand as they muddle their way through figuring out just what works and what doesn’t work with social media marketing.

Lastly what companies and businesses and people need to realize is that social media marketing is a moving target. It’s changing and morphing into something different every day. The reason is, marketers are figuring out new and unique ways to leverage the media to the advantage of the client. Some are proven, some are loopholes, some are brainstorms and some are just plain strokes of genius. Though you still need a concrete strategy as you go forward. It doesn’t hurt to have someone who is willing to take a chance or try something different on your behalf. Keep that in mind as you work your way down the bulleted list. The first of many steps will be finding someone who knows social media marketing and actually has a business model wrapped around social media marketing. As it is a moving target, I’m sure that there are some differring opinons on this. What do you think?

What’s the deal with widgets?

Ok so I’m going to go out on a limb and here and say that chances are that most of the common masses do not know what a widget is. Even if you use your computer on a daily basis, there is still the slight chance that you might not know what a widget is. No big deal. Yet…

Simply put, a widget is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate web page by an end user( You or I) without requiring additional work or previous knowledge on the users part.  Other terms used to describe widgets include: gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, mini and flake.

Widgets often but not always use DHTML, JavaScript, or Adobe Flash.  A widget adds some content to that page that is not static. Generally widgets are third party originated, though they can be home made. They add a more rich, entertainment, multi-dimensional feel to a site that might be otherwise static.

Widgets are now becoming more commonplace and are used by bloggers, social network users, marketers, advertisers, and owners of personal web sites. They exist on home page sites such as iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes, SpringWidgets and yourminis, and hundredes of other sites.

Widgets are used as a distribution method by ad networks such as Google’s AdSense, by media sites such as Flickr, by video sites such as YouTube and by hundreds of other organizations.

Applications can be integrated within a third party website by the placement of a small snippet of code. Which is now becoming a primary distribution or marketing channel for many companies. The code brings in ‘live’ content – advertisements, links, images, and video – from a third party site without the web site owner having to update.

Thus the end users can utilize widgets to enhance a number of web-based hosts, pages or drop targets. Categories of drop targets include social networks, blogs, wikis and personal homepages. Although end users primarily use widgets to enhance their personal web experiences, or the web experiences of visitors to their personal sites, corporations can potentially use widgets to improve their web sites using syndicated content and functionality from third party providers. They are also now using widgets as a carrier of their branding message or product.

So where can you find some widgets? The easiest source would be generally on the page you are currently reading, either on the left or right side of the pages. The widgets are dropped in via a widget managment system. Should you feel compelled, check out KickApps which states: The KickApps hosted, white-label platform puts social media and online video functionality directly into the hands of every web publisher who aspires to be a media mogul and turns every web designer and developer into a social media rockstar! With KickApps, it’s now easier than ever for web publishers to leverage the power of social and rich media experiences on their websites to drive audience growth and engagement.

If you are the casual reader, then hopefully this helps you. If you are a certified blogging fool, then this is nothing that you already don’t know. If you are somewhere in the middle, then now you have been enlightended.


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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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