Though the fuss about widget’s really seems to have quietened down in recent months, there really did seem a strong agenda of pushing them as an elixir of ‘doing social media’, and while I can’t argue with the success stories, it’s not hard to search Facebook and the like and find failed widgets of every shape and size.
And while with every marketing campaign there will be successs and failures, I think there’s definate reasons why some web agencies have been keen to push widgets as the magic wand.
A Product Not A Service
Although a few companies can straddle the divide, online or off, almost every company offers a product or service and it’s a difficult barrier to switch from one to the other. Most web design companies are firmly in the product camp. You pay for a website, you get a website.
There’s thousands of steps inbetween but ultimately there is a start and a finish and a tangable product. It’s not surprising given this sort of DNA that a widget. (Which is more than a little ironic that people refer to factories as makers of widgets)
Short Term Solution to long term problem
Social media is hard to get right, agencies are struggling how to sell it or learn it, clients are struggling to make the changes in structure and process to make it work and management are struggling to find the funds.
Widgets work well as a ‘campaign’ they lend themselves well to social media measurement. This is great but my only worry is that some people use it as a band aid for what is a really serious injury.
– Limited change in skill set – if you can launch a new product or service that doesn’t require much of a change in skillset’s it’s a no brainer. That’s part of the reason SEO agencies fancy themselves as social media experts. ‘We get the web’ they say and it’s true to a certain extent but the cold hard truth is very few people and companies have a proven track record in social. So it makes sense to go with those who have the most experience doing something similar. And because widgets need coding and design they fall under the remit of web design.
– Customers Understand the concept – a lot of what we evangalists call social media is a bit wishy washy. ‘Go Viral’ ‘Engage customers’ & ‘Build Relationships’ all great aims but a lot tougher sell than we’ll build you a bit of code you can show your boss and all the staff can put on their Facebook page then delete six months later never having used it!
I suspose the moral of the story is, when it comes to social doing something is sometime better than doing nothing but if you’re doing it with the wrong intensions the only person you’re kidding is yourself.