Archive for the ‘widgets’ Category

Widget Fever

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

WidgetsI love ranting about things that don’t make sense to me. Having said that, I think we (the blogosphere) need to take a serious look at widgets…

It seems that new start-ups are popping up on a day-to-day basis with what they think will be the next ‘killer widget’. Hopes for an outcome like that of MyBlogLog are slim. MyBlogLog had a simple concept, pinpoint execution, rapid adoption, and good timing (sale to Yahoo). This was definitely a special case.

Anyone and their dog can create a widget, but getting people to use it is another story. Furthermore, the value and function of the widget needs to be congruent with the purpose of a widget itself. If the fit is not there, failure is inevitable.

From an alternative point-of-view, the pro’s of a successful widget are immense. Obviously, they are a great way to drive viral adoption among other things. Please read my post entitled Widget Marketing for further in-depth information about the advantages and disadvantages of widgets. In essence though, the widget MUST be useful. It seems rather straightforward, but many are more focused on simply creating a widget rather than making it useful and relevant.

One of the biggest problem to have arisen is a focus away from the site content in favour of the widget. This is not the optimal outcome for most site owners. Moreover, these embeddable devils slow down page loading times. For this very reason, I have removed several widgets from this blog, most notably a chat widget.

Now I’m definitely not condemning widgets as I see their place in the blogosphere and the new web. What I am condemning is the misuse of a widget as a marketing strategy or business model altogether. There must be a stunning value proposition for both the reader/visitor/user, as well as the site author for the widget to be successful. If ambiguity is present and value cannot be presented in a logical manner, it is probably time to adopt a new strategy.

What Makes Meebo Tick?

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Meebo logo“Meebo, the web-based IM service that aggregates all your messengers in one place, has raised $9 million in second round funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson… ”

They’ve also released some stats:

  • 1 million registered users (up from 0.5 million three months ago)
  • 1.2 million daily logins
  • 75 million messages sent per day
  • Average session time of 70 minutes
  • 4.5 million unique screen names sign in monthly

via Mashable

Impressive stats, appropriate rewards… but what’s their secret?

1. They Kept Updates Coming

Ever since I started on Meebo, it has never stopped getting better.  It certainly started with a typical web based messaging package, but over time it all fell into place.  Chat logs were put in place, single sign-ons implemented, designs upgraded, emoticons, offline messaging, avatars - the list just goes on and on.  Done in increments, and communicated well, it leaves the audience happy, but wanting more.

2. They Blogged Well

Healthy communication with your audience is something Meebo pulls off handily - with a blog of course.   Now, you might be saying to yourselves - so what? Everyone does it now.  Well the difference is that rather than treating the blog as a public developmental log, it’s written in a personable friendly manner, revealing nuggets of interesting information every now and then.  How else would we know that hot pink was such a popular font color?

Also, Meebo’s latest blog entry will appear as a message window when you login.  The fact that it makes a good read, and it that appears in an unobtrusive way, gets the message across effectively.

3. They Expanded Your Presence Outside Their Site

It’s surprising that Meebo took so long to come out with their widget which would allow website’s to embed Meebo into them.  It’s even more surprising that NONE of the older and established players came out strong and did it first.  Since it’s release, the widget API increases visibility, provides a linkback, and promotes usage of Meebo, and it has been an invaluable move to release it.

4. They Connected with Their Community

Through wikis and forums, Meebo has established good communication between themselves and the community.  Meebo has even been translated into more than 60 languages at this point, because of user community efforts.  Go all out to help them, and the tech community will repay you in kind.

5. They Used Good old fashioned Link Karma

With good work, comes search engine rewards.  Meebo is king of the hill at the moment.  Do a quick search on Google and you’ll see that Meebo is ranked #3 if you search for “IM”, and #1 when you search for “web instant messaging”.  Do good, let people talk about you on their sites, and more will come.

What will Meebo do next?  I can’t wait.

This web commentary was contributed by James Yeang, editor of Friedbeef’s Tech.  He writes about solving everyday with simple technology.

Call Me Now… with Jaxtr

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Jaxtr logoExpect to see Jaxtr coming to a social network or blog near you… 

Jaxtr is now officially in BETA testing mode. Upon receiving the e-mail last night, I set-up an account and customized my settings. Having said that, I would really like to test the system. So give me a shout. Seriously.

Readers can call me by visiting my Jaxtr page or the embedded Jaxtr widget page I set up.

So what’s so great about the service? Here is the company pitch:

“With the free jaxtr service, you link your phone with your online network to get calls and messages from callers worldwide. You keep your existing phone numbers private and enjoy enhanced control over when and on which phone you receive calls. Plus, you get to call other jaxtr users in 29 countries from your phone without paying international toll charges.”

Jaxtr also proclaims that there is no need for a:

  • Download.
  • Headset.
  • High-speed Internet connection.

I’ve already profiled the company twice: Jaxtr - Beware the Dark Side and Jaxtr May Be BETA Than You Think.

For more information on this embeddable VOIP wonder, visit the Jaxtr FAQ page.

Jaxtr May Be BETA Than You Think

Friday, January 12th, 2007

Jaxtr logoIt looks like Jaxtr will be launching into BETA mode soon.

I received an e-mail from the company stating that they will soon be adding people to their private BETA test. They go on to say: “People with active social networking profiles and blogs will make the best testers for us since we want to make sure the jaxtr widgets get posted in places where many people see them and use them.”

If you aren’t familiar with the company and/or don’t know what they do, you can read my initial post on Jaxtr. Essentially, the start-up has created a widget that users can embed in their social network profile or blog. This widget gives the viewer of the profile the ability to call the user via a phone using VOIP.

Though this little widget presents many security and privacy concerns (see previous Jaxtr post), its simplicity and functionality may overcome its pitfalls and people may be pleasantly surprised. In addition, the viral nature of th service bodes well for its potential success. As I’ve said before, widgets are an extremely effective, low cost way of driving qualified traffic and creating brand exposure.

I’m excited to try the service and I look forward to the BETA launch.

Viral Distribution for Your Blog

Friday, January 5th, 2007

Do you want maximum exposure for your blog? Do you want others to market it? Do you want to reach the widest possible audience?

I know this sounds like a 4am infomercial, but I’m simply outlining the goals, aspirations, MuseStorm logoand hopes of many bloggers. Now, thanks to MuseStorm, these challenges have been overcome and distributing your content is easier than ever.

Bloggers, or anyone with an RSS feed for that matter, can set-up an account and instantly create a distributable widget that others can embed. The company proclaims that they will ‘widgetize’ your feed.

Widgets are customizable by colour and type, with some restrictions.

The coolest part of the whole system is the back-end analytics. Anyone who distributes the widget can then log into the MuseStorm portal and get an in-depth look at the evolution and success (or failure) of the campaign. The three main categories of analytics include:

  • Widget impressions
  • Domains
  • Click-throughs

In other words, these categories essentially tell you a) how many impressions your content widget has received, b) which domains are producing the impressions, and c) the total amount of click-throughs to your blog or site. Very cool.

The product is currently in BETA, but I received an invite from the company so I’m going to test it out. If you would like to embed Mapping The Web content on your blog or site, please read the ‘Note’ at the bottom of this post. 

Here is a sample screenshot of how the widget may look:

NOTE: Anyone that wants to embed Mapping The Web content on their site can find the HTML code here.