Archive for the ‘widgets’ Category
The term “feature creep” is often used to describe a product or service overridden with features to a point where the overall offering becomes less functional. Rather than focus on a few outstanding features, a myriad of substandard features are crammed into the product, diminishing the overall value and utility. I think the same can be said for blogs — and the
abuse use of widgets.
[Effectiveness of Facebook Apps as a Marketing Tool] – A little while back, I asked readers to submit questions they would like me to answer or blog about. The first one I’d like to tackle was submitted by Mark Evans, who blogs at MarkEvansTech and serves as Director of Community of Canadian-based start-up PlanetEye. Mark wrote:
“What’s your take on the effectiveness of Facebook apps as a branding/marketing tool?”
My cliched first thought was, “Good question”. After giving it some further time and consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that, as a whole, Facebook apps are not a great marketing tool. Obviously this is a generalization and apps may prove to be a successful strategy for some companies. Let me explain my logic…
It’s all about perception.
Branding and positioning are an important part of any online strategy. Subsequently, solidifying status and credibility within an industry is essential. Still with me? The recent onslaught of Facebook apps has saturated the “marketplace”. A lack of management on behalf of the social network has driven many to utter frustration with the highly-touted platform.
For this very reason, I think that the introduction of a Facebook app may be more detrimental than advantageous, in some cases, unless extreme caution and delicacy are exercised. A suitable Facebook app would have to provide compelling value and utility. Furthermore, there would have to be a certain level of fit with the exposed community of users.
My guess is that a majority will disagree with this train of thought, but I’m just giving my take on the situation.
In all honesty, I think that most apps are being created for amusement purposes – not as branding vehicles. The ability to “poke” someone or write on their “FunWall” is great, but these dominant apps may reflect negatively upon your company if you are trying to portray a more professional, sophisticated image.
Jumping back to August 2007, I wrote a post about the short-term success and long-term failure of the platform. I still believe much of that post to be true. The effectiveness of apps has decreased significantly due to the surge of entrants.
I think that more users are starting to see things the same way as I do. For the most part, Facebook apps are more of a hassle than they’re worth. They cause huge amounts of clutter and force users to scroll down long profile pages to find what they’re looking for. They’re also very distracting at times. What I find most annoying is the increased page load time. In other words, unless you’re creating an app for pure amusement or you happen to be in the business of “fun”, then Facebook apps are likely to be a poor marketing tool unless a cautious, very well sought out strategy is executed upon.
In late September 2007, I wrote about the explosive “success” of BlogRush. At one point, BlogRush nearly hit 500 on the Alexa rankings – an amazing feat in such a short period of time. This rise to glory was quickly followed by a fade into oblivion. Nevertheless, a new kid is in town and his name is Entrecard. He claims to be the next big thing, but can he live up to the hype? Even more importantly, can he sustain long-term success where so many others have failed?
Since the launch of Entrecard in mid November, the site/service has exploded onto the scene. Traffic has soared. The site has nearly broken into the Alexa top 1,000 – a phenomenal feat in just 3 months. Sound familiar?
The success of these two start-ups have followed a similar path, although the long-term prospects of Entrecard have yet to play out. Don’t get me wrong, BlogRush has only been around two months longer than Entrecard, but with such viral and volatile services, two months seems like an eternity.
In short, Entrecard is an easy way to network with other bloggers and market your blog. Although it seems like a novel idea, I’m not convinced the model is sustainable. It “feels” like an affiliate/MLM-type process, which doesn’t interest or excite me. Those who use it, swear by it – somewhat akin to MLM associates. These fly-by-night type deals tend to exploit an inefficiency in the market that quickly gets filled or copied by others. For this reason, I don’t see success over the long-term as more players move into the space, saturating the market.
I can bash all I want, but my gut simply tells me this won’t work out. I give it another 3 months tops. In any case, check it out and let me know your thoughts. If you happen to be using the service, post your comments and opinions.
In my mind, widgets have never been a business model. They are a marketing tool that provide exposure and funnel traffic back to a parent property. This is where a business model and subsequent monetization emerge. I think that companies (and VCs) are starting to realize this, and widget fever is nearing an end.
For clarification purposes, I believe widgets will be around forever. However, pure-play widget start-ups won’t be. The funding of these initiatives will die off as potential investors realize the risks.
Up until recently, it seemed like everyone and their dog was launching a widget-based start-up or a web 2.0 company that served up widgets. The hope was that these widgets would spur viral distribution, creating widespread exposure. In many cases, this did occur. But now what? Where is the monetization? How can revenue be generated via these eyeballs? Most held on to the hope that eyeballs would attract potential acquisitors. In other words, their revenue model was an exit strategy in disguise – the infamous “web 2.0 revenue model”.
VCs just don’t seems to be funding these start-ups like they used to – and for good measure. Without revenues, these companies are unable to sustain themselves. At this point, it becomes a time game. Will the cash run out before an acquisitor comes along? I would bet on it.