So why widgets?
That’s an excellent question! Here’s an excellent answer.
I’ve seen time and time again, companies and individuals trying to create the next MySpace. Frankly, chances are you are going to fail, and fail miserably. An Epic Fail if you will.
And here’s why. Let’s take a look at your typical social network junkie.
Name – Ashley Smith
Age – 18
Gender – Female
Network of choice – MySpace
Logs on – Multiple times a day (morning, lunch break, evening, before sleepy time)
Favorite Bands – Coldplay, Paramore, Jonas Brothers
Favorite Books – Twilight (omg, the movie was sooo amazing, I’ve seen it, like, a 100 times)
Having sat in on more than my fair share of focus groups, the majority of social network users spend the majority of their online time on said social networks. Especially with widgets and the splendor of OpenSocial and the Facebook Developer Platform, users are spending less and less time visiting other websites.
You might be asking yourself. Why build a widget instead of a third party application for social networks? I’ll address this in more depth in a later tip, but the quick answer is, there are pros and cons to both. One of the biggest pros for widgets is cross network support. However, there are absolutely times when developing a third-party application over a widget is the best choice, but more on that in a later tip.
Trying to create your own social network is a fruitless endeavor. Think of who you’re trying to compete with.. MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Orkut, Hoverspot, MS Live, VampireFreaks, etc… Even if you were to get venture capital backing, it’s an extremely tough market to break into now-a-days.
So back to the question at hand… Why Widgets?
Social network users love widgets
Nothing says how cool I am more than a Napolean Dynamite bobblehead on my profile.
Widgets allow you to take your content to the masses
Driving traffic to your website can be done, but it’s never going to be anywhere near the same amount of traffic that the social networks already have. It’s much easier to cast a net into a raging river, than it is to divert the river.
Widgets are portable
They are not just limited to Social Networks. Take the YouTube.com external video player for example. Their embeddable video player shows up on blogs, webpages and pretty much anything that will render HTML (exception: the iPhone, Apple allow Flash on the iPhone already, gosh).
Widgets are a fairly inexpensive way to get your name and brand out there.
Build something really cool, and allow social network users to run with it. Next thing you know, people have heard of your company. Especially helpful if your target demographic is 16-28 year olds.
Widgets can make you money
Widget advertising is a new market, there hasn’t been a lot done with it yet. Personally, I think there is a huge revenue stream there that is waiting to be tapped. Just be careful when advertising inside widgets. Some social networks will shut you down if you’re trying to make money on their network without their consent. A wise MySpace employee once told me that sharing some of your advertising revenue with MySpace is better than not getting any revenue through MySpace.
So that’s it for our first Tip of the Day, thoughts?