Widgets and gadgets: Virtual swag for the social network masses
Quick now, before the marketing hype subsides: Are most of the widget and gadget apps offered by SocialMedia, Google and Slide.com the new, killer way to reach the upscale audience in social networks who are bailing out of old-school media like appointment TV and paper newspapers?
Not if what I see on Facebook is representative. Two of Facebook’s most popular widgets let you have a virtual food or water fight with your friends. Upscale? Not.
But if you want to give away virtual bumper stickers, posters, fish, flowers, etc. so Facebookers can add to the general teen-bedroom ambience of most profiles, this is definitely the place to be. It’s all about personalization and choice, of course. Like I told my mom whenever she yelled at me because she could no longer see the floor in my room: “I like it this way!”
The trick for widget and gadget-oriented marketing is providing either a “pow” moment of fanatical fun with a must-have virtual toy or experience-of-the-moment, then riding the viral wave; or providing some real functionality, like Google’s video messenger gadget, VidiMe. Like giving away free coffee mugs with your company’s logo, if people don’t see them and use them every day, you might as well have handed out Styrofoam cups. Offering a gadget with true value and convenience is the key to establishing a long-term relationship with millions of social network users.
Tameka Kee, writing recently for Online Media Daily, snagged a great quote from Seth Goldstein, CEO of SocialMedia. One of SocialMedia’s most popular widgets—with almost 150,000 users—lets you invite friends to a virtual Happy Hour. Goldstein said: “People are so engaged in the social network, if you require them to leave to monetize them, you’ll never win. . . . You build an app where they stay and you use it for branding, direct response, or to get some data.”
So are Facebook pages really the new, virtual living room—so comfortable and conveniently furnished with widgets and gadgets no one ever wants to leave? Are widgets and gadgets the marketing equivalent of a hotline for pizza delivery?
If your Value Proposition looks a lot like a food delivery operation, or you’re marketing convenience-driven, instant-gratification products or services, perhaps you should consider offering some virtual swag for those who live on their Facebook or MySpace pages and the pages of their friends. Otherwise, you may be missing the virtual living rooms of millions of virtual couch potatoes.