Widgetcraft 2007

witchesWidgetcraft is not witchcraft, but there is some magic in it for book marketers.  Widgets are small chunks of software that perform simple functions and can be easily inserted onto a web page, blog or page on a social networking site.  Their appeal is that they bring a information to you vs. you having to surf to a site for the information.  Widgets have been around for awhile, but only recently has their potential for use in viral marketing campagins begun to be appreciated by marketers. 

Today’s widgets can be used for brand building, e-commerce and / or entertainment.  The economics of most e-commerce widgets available today are pretty straightforward.  Generally, the widget developer and web page owner (where the widget is hosted) earn a piece of the revenue whenver a transaction is consumated, similar to an affiliate program.

Recently, Facebook, the second largest social networking site behind MySpace, created a sensation when it announced that it would open the code used to power its site to widget devvelopers.  One example, featured in the July 23 issue of BusinessWeek, was a widget developed by iLike.com which lets you share your musical favorites with all your friends on Facebook and compare your tastes with theirs.   It’s a subtle form of sharing, recommendation and discovery all rolled into one.   Widgets have the power to bring a web experience to the user.  For example, nba.com has created trading card widgets that let you see a picture of your favorite players, view constantly updated statistics and link to news stories and videos about them.

miniature booksNow, imagine a book widget that lets you see the cover of a new release, read excerpts, hear an interview with the author and view a book trailer.  It could even feature a link to Amazon or the publisher’s site so you could order the book.  All in one little widget that anyone can just drop onto their blog or web page.  Widgets such as this could facilitate viral book marketing campaigns.  Now stretch your imagination just a bit further and you have the same widget appearing on the new generation of smart mobile phone – e.g. the iPhone. 

Widgets may prove the point the point that in the Web 2.0 world, small is beautiful.  And no one ever got burned at the stake for thinking small.

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