posted 27 Jun 2007 in Volume 10 Issue 9
Widgets, gadgets, badges and blidgets. What are they and what can they do for you?
By Lynda Rathbone
By now you should have embraced the social-networking revolution in some way, right? And if not professionally, at least personally. Facebook is quickly becoming the place to see and be seen, television is now mixing media and mobile phones are integrating into the online social-networking world in new and interesting ways. Cool? Yes. Practical in the corporate world? Yes again, in my opinion.
Those of you who read my column every month will know this is one of my favourite topics – cool stuff you can do with your suit on, inspired by the cool stuff you do when you’re in your t-shirt and jeans after work. And this month is no different.
With the pervasiveness of ‘widgets’, ‘gadgets’ and ‘badges’ today, it’s time to start thinking about how to integrate these Web 2.0 facilities into your own site, as well as developing a few yourself to place on other sites.
All of the above are a way for you to take or place content on your site, or on others, without having to repurpose it. Its key benefit is clear – you can now think of the web as a distribution model for your organisation’s content; it’s not just restricted to the corporate website. Often, you don’t even have to do the distributing. Other users can take your widget and distribute it for you if they find it useful.
So how does this benefit the business world? Starting with the external placement of widgets (all of the above will now simply be referred to as widgets), you can maximise the ‘viewership’ of your content, promote your brand, drive traffic back to your site and encourage the use of your widgets by other sites.
For example, why not create an inventory widget so potential distributors, buyers and/or consumers can track stock and place orders? Online auction site EBay does this to let users track auction bidding.
Or perhaps you want to increase awareness of your brand or a new campaign initiative? Creating a clever widget to go with your campaign you can place on sites (permission required, of course), in addition to other social-networking routes, such as creating a MySpace page, can help drive traffic in addition to the traditional online-marketing routes.
Unilever’s tea brand, PG Tips (www.pgtips.co.uk) did this with its stuffed monkey in a recent campaign using badges and MySpace. Not only did they get hundreds of ‘friends’ on the MySpace site, there were many spin-off sites with the monkey as well – all wearing the PG Tips shirt. Internally, widgets can be a great way to boost your intranet, too. If your organisation is like most, there isn’t a huge budget for the intranet. Using widgets could be a great way to spice it up and keep it looking current without much effort or cost.
There are lots of fun widgets, too, such as horoscopes, sudoku and mini fish-tanks, as well as basic utilities – stock price or sports tickers (to keep staff eyes on the job when the Olympics or the World Cup is on), for example.
Some of these have been around for a while, but the level of sophistication has increased. Now, stock widgets can often include graphs, charts, historical performance data and related news headlines. There are also quite a few productivity widgets for features such as network performance and monitoring.
Finally, you should think about developing your own widgets for data that gets updated frequently in your own business, such as product inventory, call-centre data, sales or membership information. These can be shared with your private or third-party audiences, including suppliers, contractors and so on, keeping them up to date and reducing calls to your staff or into your call centres.
While I have only scratched the surface of widgets, blidgets and the like, there is a lot more information about this topic online. These directory sites provide good starting points:
As always, I’d love to hear from you on this or any other topic at firstname.lastname@example.org.