A Woman's Prerogative
Wal-Mart on the Offensive

The Word on Widgets

by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief Social Media Strategist at xynoMedia Technology

If you don't know what a widget is...welcome to 2008. And, I'll leave it to Wikipedia to explain what a widget is. They always do a better job than I can.

That said, lately we're getting a lot of calls from panic-stricken mega corps asking if they need to build a widget to "get in the social media game".  And, chances are, if big companies have it on their gargantuan radars, you've got a few questions, too.Widget

Why would I want one?

  • To help increase visibility of your brand.
  • To create a total time-suck for people who don't watch soap operas, yet crave daytime distractions.
  • To drive traffic back to your blog or website (if done right).
  • To increase the viralability (is that a word!?) of your brand.
  • To share your company's content or technology capability with others.
  • To be with-it, hip and cool. (I didn't say this was the best reason, but it *is* a reason.)

Should you build one?

No. Well, ok, that's a bad answer. Just know that the web world is filled with totally unecessary widgets that are built for and by companies that never stopped to ask themselves if there is any reason whatsoever that they should build this viral code snippet. In other words, many companies do it just for the cool factor alone - they forget that a *good* widget is both cool, purposeful and catalytic (that is, it makes people act toward your desired result/outcome).

So, unless you can answer with great certainty *why* your company should take its hard earned cash and give it to a company like mine to build a widget, don't do it. (Yes, I realize that this statement shoots us in the foot a bit. Oh well, life ain't *all* about money...just mostly :-)

How much do widgets cost to build?

Widgets are like websites, they can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 to build -- it all depends on what you want. The best thing to do (if you've already passed the why-are-we-doing-this test) is to contact 3-5 companies who have built successful widgets (see the definition of a good widget above) and interview them. Most people like to talk about their successes even for 15 minutes...and most people like to help others.

Widgets can also be built for free using services like Kickapps and Widgetbox. Fly solo if you dare.

What should I watch out for?

  • Widgets can be used to do damage so if you decide that building a widget works for your company's marketing goals, proceed with caution. Because of the way widgets are programmed, a less than reputable development company can encode your widget with spyware, viruses or crappy code that inadvertently damages other people's computers -- all unbeknownst to you. But, guess who gets hit with the lawsuit if there is a problem? Yep.
  • Run like the wind from any development company that doesn't take time -- time to understand your business and your marketing goals and strategy. Put another way, if a company doesn't start the 'widget conversation' by asking some poignant questions, you need to end the conversation. Period. That said, they shouldn't take three months to find out about you, either.
  • A development firm with a coder named 'Spike' who tells you they can help you build your widget using overseas talent for $100. Nothing against overseas talent, of course, but $100!?! If it's too good to be true...

How can I educate myself about all this widget talk so I can know if it's for us or not?

I'm a firm believer that the best education comes in the form of consumption, so visit here and have yourself a ball.

P.S. I'll be there. Yvonne will be there. Will we see you there?

Comments

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Lena West

@Tom:

Thanks for asking my opinion.

I am not familiar with this product, but here's what TechCrunch has to say about them: http://www.techcrunch.com/tag/sprout/

I usually agree with Tech Crunch's product/service feedback.

-Lena

Tom

Hi Lena,

I've been playing around with a new (to me) free widget builder called Sprout (http://sproutbuilder.com/).

Do you know anything about them? Are they "too good to be true"?

Tom

The Freelance Writer's Blog

Welcom to the WWW -- the Wacky World of Widgets!

Great post.

Yuwanda

Lena West

@Lisa:

See!? I knew there was someone out there with widget questions.

I'm glad I could be informative.

Thanks for writing, Lisa!

-Lena

Lisa Anderson

I have been wondering what a "widget" is! I thought it was a much broader term, but oh how wrong I was. Great overview--

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