Update: Several have suggested that this announcement is nothing new, (See initial announcement in 2006) and upon further investigation (and a quick email exchange with the Facebook team) confirms this to be right. What’s new is that it’s now easier to do than before. Regardless, the awareness of this feature is low within the marketplace, and everything I write in the following still stands true. Consider this awareness raising, and more of these types of distributed web tactics to continue in 2008.
My goal is to simply tech speak and boil it down to what it means for you, a web strategist. I’ll update this post as I learn more information.
What Facebook wrote
In their most recent announcement they gave a very technical explanation regarding the announcement:
Web Strategists’ Translation
This means that web owners can now embed existing Facebook applications easier than before. Now, in addition to being able to create an application/widget that will sit on Facebook alone, you can now easily embed it on your own website (in addition to leveraging the social features that Facebook offers).
[You can start to bring the Facebook community to your own corporate website, rather than directly developing on Facebook alone. This is a step towards the community now leaving the social network and moving to other locations]
This is really making the social features and widgets of Facebook portable. This is important as your web strategy is now distributed in many locations. For corporate web strategists, you’ll need to expand the scope of your plan to include how some of these widgets and applications could be embedded on your own microsites and corporate websites. This also means this is a ‘bridge’ to get active Facebook users closer to your corporate website.
Impacts to Google’s Open Social
If you’re not familiar, I’ve outlined what Open Social Means to your executives, read this first. Essentially, Google and it’s many partners wants to make it easy for widgets to move from one social network to another with little re-coding: portable and re-usable widgets. Unfortuantly, this has yet to be seen, and Facebook’s announcement allows widgets to be more portable, somewhat creeping in on Open Social’s intentions. In the long run, expect all of these companies to be working together, sharing API data, as those that don’t will be left out.
What you need to do:
Action: Do nothing at this point, let’s wait to see some case studies of how this is being implemented.
Plan: This doesn’t keep you from correctly planning, so continue to make your web strategy a distributed one, where content, applications, and people move from social network to social network, and to your own corporate website. Talk with your interactive agency, web developers, and social media gurus on what some of these possibilities could mean. Have weekly 30 minute brainstorming parties and see how this could be implemented and integrated within your current activities.
How to think of this: Plan on adding social features to your own corporate website so that visitors will interact with your own content, re-sort it, edit it, and mash it however they want. The future of content is amorphous and ubiquitous. (I’ve been saying this since 2005 and now we’re finally starting to see it happen)
Which department should take leadership of your corporate web strategy? Earlier this week, I flew out to Vegas to speak on a panel with Alastair Duncan is Chief Executive of MRM, at Intel’s sales and marketing event.
I was really impressed by his nuggets, that I got him on video in the Sands conference center to talk about ownership and governance of web programs within corporations. Alastair’s blog is located Participation Marketing.
What you’ll learn?
Who really is in charge of web strategy programs? Which department (listen to his insightful answer)
How to avoid making your website an irrelevant ‘picture on the wall’
How can Marketing and IT actually get along?
Twitter no mo’ Kidder
‘Less you become Litter
The time for fun and games is over, Twitter needs to step and be the robust communication platform it’s fans are expecting it to be or users may end up leaving. The cracks are starting to show.
Shel Israel puts forth a passionate open letter to the founders of Twitter, RE: Fix it before we nix it, exposing the weakness of fast built ruby on rails experiment that is not scaling. Sadly, I’m not surprised to see the ‘bring that beat back’ or lol cat, as Twitter is the website that had more than 5 days of downtime in 2007. I know of some pretty creative developers that wanted to build applications on top of Twitter but were restricted due to limitations in APIs. There are currently over 600 messages in Get Satisfactions support forum for Twitter, there’s a lot of requests, and a lot of passionate users. Lastly, Allen Stern wants to see a business model, members of the site should know what it is, as it directly impacts them.
It’s time for Twitter to grow up, both for it’s infrastructure, communications with customers, find out what features are needed, and start to grow. Put that $5.4 million funding you received last month to good use.
So, you’re going to launch a social media campaign huh? You’ve got all the tools, resources, and processes together, but did you remember to set some goals?
I get to meet and talk to many companies that are adopting social media from a variety of levels of sophistication: unsure, scared, excited, embracing, overly ecstatic. One of the biggest challenges they have is forgetting to visualize what success looks like. In many cases, they are overly focused on fondling the hammer, that they forget about the overall goal.
Even if a company is doing a trial project (externally, internally, whatever) part of the expectations of the project should include a page, slide, or document that indicates what success will look like –even if they know that it may not be reached, here’s a few example to get you started:
A few examples of what success could look like for you:
We were able to learn something about customers we’ve never know before
We were able to tell our story to customers and they shared it with others
A blogging program where there are more customers talking back in comments than posts
An online community where customers are self-supporting each other and costs are reduced
We learn a lot from this experimental program, and pave the way for future projects, that could still be a success metric
We gain experience with a new way of two-way communication
We connect with a handful of customers like never before as they talk back and we listen
We learned something from customers that we didn’t know before
As you prepare your plans (you’ve got one right?) to use social media, don’t forget to include a section on “what does success look like”, and visualize and aim for you goals. Oh, and guess what, your goals can change over time, and they should.
Experimentation with these are important, these are radically different ways for companies to communicate with customers, so be sure to indicate to your management how this is experiment, and you’ll need a bit of wiggle room and latitude for the unexpected. It’s their job to empower and trust you, knowing the risks that could happen as you learn to let go to gain more.
It’s important to setup expectations for yourself, your management, and your customers (feel free to let them know why you are doing this) in order to give yourself a purpose as you embark on connecting in new ways.
A few weeks ago, I revisited The Museum of Technology in downtown San Jose, the ‘blue fruit in an orange box’ (see google street map) building sticks out amid the glass corporate buildings and grand hotels. A great landmark for a city centered in innovation. This museum boasts many interactive exhibits, a showcasing of past and previous technology, shows, and even an imax screen for those seeking an enveloping experience of sight and sound. Don’t take my word for it, find out what others say on Yelp reviews.
I had a fun time exploring the exhibit talking about the internet: reviewing some history, catching up on some trivia, and learning about netiquette and abbreviations you should know. (see below)
A bit of trivia for you, the museum is on the site (or close to it) where San Jose’s old Chinatown used to be, but is no more. Also of interest, I used to work at the Fairmont while in college helping with the audio visual work for large conferences. Playing with audio equipment, large projectors, and running around in the catwalks was a lot of fun (and great food for employees).
(Silicon Valley Sightings is an ongoing PhotoBlog that captures the intersection of Tech Culture in the San Francisco Silicon Valley Bay Area, check out the archives (which now showcase some tech areas in Asia). All photos by Jeremiah Owyang)
Update, Monday Jan 28: I’m holding off on publishing the web strategy survey (details here) for a few days, I may get my hands on some better tools/process, so please hang tight.
A few days ago, I asked if it would be appropriate to run a survey on this blog, the overall answer was “yes”.
This survey should help both readers to understand their peers, as well as for me to understand the readers.
This Monday, I’m going to publish the first ever survey for this blog. The goals? To learn about readers, (who they are, what they do, what their challenges are) and will publish the findings for all readers to learn from. Secondly, I want to learn about what you think about the web strategy blog, what works, and what can be improved.
While not all feedback will be incorporated (it’s not physically possible) I’ll take considerations into mind. While this blog is serving the web decision maker, it’s still mine, and I’ll maintain editorial control. I can’t be all things to all people, so ultimately, I’ll be the final judge.
I won’t be using this data in any malicious way, and respondents can stay anonymous. Of course, if there is a business opportunity, and someone needs help from my employer, I will pass on any messages, but of course this will be voluntary and completely opt-in. If I didn’t you could leave comments and my reputation would quickly be tarnished, the control is in your hands.
Here’s my proposed survey questions what do you think?
1 About you
-Kind of work/industry
-Do you use social media?
-Size of team under you
-Open ended section
2 About your challenges
-Is your organization ready for social media?
-Where are you as far as implementation?
-How many months/years has your company been implementing social media?
-What type of tools have you deployed?
-How would you describe the reaction of your company to this change?
-What are your biggest challenges (open)
3 About the web strategy blog
-How did you find this blog?
-How do you consume the content on this blog
-How do you rate the blog/share with others?
-How do you rate the amount of content being published (frequency)
-What’s woroking well
-What needs to be improved
-Open ended section
4 Contact info (optional)
-Option to receive follow-up email
I’m being very open-source in this survey process, as I want to make sure readers get as much out of it as I do, your feedback encouraged.
I was just at Intel’s Sales and Marketing event on Tuesday, and was really glad to meet Intel’s EMEA Web Strategist (which is what I call decision makers), Taj Peyton. He’s responsible for understanding each of the unique needs of cultures in his European market and developing localized versions of the corporate Intel site –no easy undertaking.
Watch this video and you’ll learn
-Why you should or should not localize
-What you research
-Other than language, how are regionalized sites are different than corporate website
-How to get started
-Management is a nightmare, what tools to use?
I ran out of memory, so the interview got cut short a few seconds, but there’s a lot of meat in his presentation. If you’re planning on localizing you website, be sure to really understand the demographics (who are they), physhographics (how they think/feel), and technographics (how they use technology) before deploying, otherwise you may have just wasted your resources.
And yes, that’s the Wynn in the background, one of Vegas’s newest hotels. Intel put me up at the brand new Venetian extention, the Palazzo, each room is a suite (3 HD flatscreens), it’s opulent. I’m pretty sure I was the first person to every stay in the room as they just opened up last week, why do I think that? I had to plug in a lot of the appliances, I’m sure that’ll never happen again
Here’s where you’ll find me, (and my presentations) over the rest of Jan, and all of Feb. This excludes any ongoing Silicon Valley events (is this updated?) that I may attend.
Web 2.0 Marketing: What’s Real and What’s Hype (Microsoft/MarketingProfs, client | Webinar, Feb 14
DealMaker Media, Social Networking ’08 | San Francisco, Feb 7
Customer Support is the New Marketing | San Francisco, Feb 4
Dow Jones Webinar, client, Social Media Measurement | Jan 31st (Free)
Web Guild Web 2.0 Conference: Crowdsourcing | Jan 29
Forrester Teleconference: Strategy For Facebook | Jan 28
Why Web Strategists should consider widgets
Expect widgets to act like a network, the span over many different containers like social networks, websites, and blogs. Since widgets are opt-in by the publisher or social network member, it’s a great way to track who’s actually interested in the content. As a result, the opportunity for more sophisticated marketing and advertising moves from carpet bombing to opt-in nearly GPS radar-like accuracy.
First, understand the distributed web strategy
Need to get up to speed on this, start with my primer on web marketing is distributed, not on two domains alone, followed up by a former CMOs perspective on the distributed web. Getting users to come to your corporate website is not the only goal, savvy fisherman fish where the fish are.
New players as widget networks emerge
I’m closely watching the widget industry with colleague Charlene Li. This time last year, there were no widgets in Facebook, and now there are over 13,000. I recognize that this is a growth market Widget ad revenue was estimated at about $20 million in 2007, or about one-thousandth of Internet advertising as a whole. According to the new comScore data for November, Slide claimed almost 144 million unique viewers, for a 16% market share, and RockYou claimed a 11.7% share, with 104 million individual viewers. In July, Slide had 130 million individual users, or a 15% share, while RockYou boasted 96 million users, or 11.1% of the total. (stats via MSNBC)
Spending low, but expect growth
According to the data (from Comscore) that 6% of internet advertising dollars were being spent on social networks, and only a fraction currently is spent on widgets. Expect that to grow in both camps. Widget networks aren’t limited to social networks alone, in many cases, they can be repurposed for mobile devices as well as standalone embeds on websites and blogs.
Measurement key as dollars shift
The article states that some of the growth is capped due to lack of measurement (a good reason why I created this list of widget measurement companies). You’ll need to measure to show success, as well as make in-flight course corrections in near real time.
Expectations in 2008
So, expect widget networks like Slide, Rockyou, Widgetbox, Watercooler, and many many others, to become like syndicated networks, offer self-serve advertising, begin to offer metrics, and offer unique co-branded, and co-sponsored marketing campaigns to brands. Two of these networks will likely be acquired by large media or internet companies in the next 11 months.
Case Study: Forbes Widgets
Here’s a case of a company letting go to the distributed web, I just ran into the Forbes site, and saw they had a full page devoted to widgets, that let it’s content, and brand spread of it’s site. Interesting that it’s sponsor, in this case Visa, goes with it.
What you should do
First, determine if your community and marketplace is using widgets, do research. If so, seek one of those widget networks, and trail an advertising campaign that will match to your right community. Don’t try to recreate a widget, leave it to the experts, and likely, your interactive firm won’t do it well, these are very specialized products. Rather than have the widget network vendor recreate a new widget, leverage an existing one by sponsorship, rebranding, or integrating with a unique marketing campaign.
Bombardment should wither
Traditional marketing is usually a head on approach where marketers carpet bomb screaming messages fighting for the attention of their community. Today, social media is really a lateral strategy. The most savvy brands will figure out how to “energize” customers so they tell others about the company and it’s products. There’s no argument that prospects trust actual customers more than marketers or advertisers.
[Many marketers get social media wrong, they apply traditional marketing tactics (yelling) to the new tools, and miss the biggest opportunities --letting customers tell the story for them]
I did a boomerang trip to Las Vegas (in under 24 hours) to speak at Intel’s annual sales and marketing conference, (alongside with Allastair Duncan of MRM, John Battelle of Federated Media, and good friend Jennifer Jones of Marketing Voices) they completely packed the venetian as over 5,400 employees assembled to talk about how to best connect with customers. While I’m not going to share any secrets, I can tell you that the focus on Social Media at Intel is moving at full steam. Out of the B2B tech companies, they’re one of the ones that are applying it to events, interacting with customers in communities such as Open Port, hosting blogger dinners, have a presence in SecondLife and are creating many videos and podcasts. For the most part, Intel gets it right, social media is being used by a wide group of marketers, and with varied levels of experimentation.
Benefits: When customers sing your praises
For a company that’s a component of an end product, being top of mind is a key. I learned that 25% of the global audience prefers Intel over other brands, 75% may be indifferent. I suggested that new marketing using social media is a great way to get that 25% to tell the other 75% what they like about Intel. They should develop a platform that enables customers to be the voice of the company, and to gain more, they need to let go. How to do this? let customers create messages, create advertisements, let them sing the praises from their blogs, and social network profiles. The company should be a supporter, echo and amplify customers, not force them into a corner.
Risks: Letting go to gain more
Sure there are risks of customers saying negative things about your brand, or competitors jumping in to derail, but with it comes rewards of authentic testimonials from customers, nothing is more powerful than that. Negative feedback? Consider it free customer insight, where you can then use it to fix your products, and come back to customers and show them they impact they helped you make. Develop a comfort zone by setting expectations up front to management and internal teams that like the real world, uncertainty is part of this.
Lateral marketing energizes your customers
Rather than focus on bombardment and forced marketing, companies like Intel, and perhaps yours, should consider that the most effective marketing, is the lateral approach where customers evangelize to your prospects on your behalf.