Good things come in small packages Create and embed widgets easily with yourminis

Posted by tom klein February 14, 2008 at 2:30 am

What’s great about RSS and syndication, as we discussed in Bring it on, is that it’s a great way to put your content anywhere on the web. However, just having a feed isn’t enough. You need to create a widget, so your RSS feed can sit in places like iGoogle, Facebook, or the Vista or Mac dashboard. Problem is that creating a widget is hard to do.

Or at least it used to be. Yourminis has changed all that. Here’s how they describe what they offer: This platform offers a set of re-usable components and an advanced API framework to enable rapid development of widgets, ranging from simple badges to complex miniature applications. Here’s how we describe it: they make making widgets easy. While you will need someone with technical ability to develop the widget (meaning we can dispense with the gory detail), it can be done in less than an hour. Once you have a widget developed, you can put it just about anywhere.

How do we know? Well, we built one just to show you. If you would like a feed growth! widget, here are some options: fg for facebook, fg for iGoogle, fg for Vista, fg for Mac. While this one is quite simple, we’ll be adding sex appeal over time.

If you’re looking for a way to take your site content and evangelize, it’s going to be hard to beat this option for making it happen quickly.

This system doesn’t just make the making easy. It also makes the tracking easy. They provide tools for managing your widget, tracking who’s using it, and, in their words, “executing an effective widget strategy.”

Your best customers really do want to be kept up to date with your latest products, your announcements about special events or promotions. If you create a widget for them, you make it easy to stay on top of everything that’s going on.



  It's a small world Find an offshore marketing partner with Odesk

Posted by tom klein January 4, 2008 at 2:30 am

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that there are low cost service providers offshore. However, while the price may be right, can you really rely on someone you’ve never met, thousands of miles away?

Odesk may be able to put your mind at ease. The online service connects you with web developers and designers across the globe. Here’s how it works. Create a profile, and then create a project description. Then you can either bid out your project or peruse the database for workers based on their abilities, work history, or prior client feedback (similar to the reviews on eBay). The system mediates the entire process, letting you engage and interact with qualified applicants / partners before you pull the trigger.

You can outsource the nuts and bolts of an entire project or complement your existing workforce with specialized talent on a project basis. What are you waiting for? Try it this year.

On top of the management of the deal, this system goes one step further. It provides real-time web cam monitoring and screen-captures so you can ensure that your work is done to your standards and on time.

At digital scientists, we use oDesk for our clients, so they get the best of both worlds - local market knowledge and management with long distance costs. Not everyone’s ready to stay up late to manage people several thousand miles away.


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  Just for the taste of it Advertise with an IPTV widget like Coke Bubbles

Posted by tom klein December 13, 2007 at 2:30 am

As we discussed in Freshly Squeezed, Joost is a big player in internet based or IPTV. Once TV programming is available online, advertising options go well beyond the 15 second spot.

Just one example can be found in Coke Bubbles. This sponsored service lets users share Joost clips and send commentary through widgets known as bubble messages that carry the Coca-Cola brand. In the same way that you can send an e-card today, so can you use Coke Bubbles to send a snippet of any TV program on Joost. Now when consumers want to share a cool scene, they can, while also carrying your brand.

This is what happens when TV and the web get married – everything gets turned upside down. Try not to be a wallflower at the reception because these advertising opportunities won’t always be so easy or accessible.

Just like Facebook, Joost has embraced third party widgets that bring additional functionality and create an ecosystem that drives usage over time. This Coke widget is just the beginning, so stay tuned.

IPTV brings together the great entertainment (okay, well, sometimes great) of the TV with the trackability of the web. Don’t forget that what you learn online, may actually help you make creative decisions regarding what to run on traditional media.


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  You're all talk Create a marketing sensing audioblog with Gabcast

Posted by tom klein December 12, 2007 at 2:30 am

For so many companies, the sales force represents the only real window into the customers’ world. The problem is that sales people move constantly and don’t really have the time to stop and write things down.

Now they don’t really have to. Gabcast lets you call a toll free number, record a message, and then post it to a blog (when you add audio to a blog, it’s an audioblog). Simply sign up with the system, record something by calling and 800 number and then publish to your audioblog. A sales person or a group of salespeople could use this type of service to keep a broad community up to date with what’s happening in the real world, products they might see, reactions to new products … just about anything.

There’s no reason that desk jockeys and road warriors can’t be in synch. Gabcast can be the key.

We all have a cell phone. We all know how to talk. As you see in this list of Gabcast News and Updates, this system can serve as the podcast that doesn’t need an ipod. Just call and start jabbering away.

Remember that you don’t have to introduce a service like this in your company with a great deal of fanfare. It may be easier to just refer to the system as the sales team voicemail and then let people find the information on their own.


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Counter-offer Outsource manual tasks to thousands with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

Posted by tom klein October 22, 2007 at 2:30 am

For anyone who’s trying to grow a business, there will always seem to be much more to do than there is time to do it. One of the newest ways of tackling challenging tasks that can be done on the web is called crowdsourcing (the Wikipedia is an example). It essentially means that you hand a difficult task to an undefined, large group of people. Remember that old screen saver (SETI@home) that harnessed your computer to help search for extra-terrestrials? It’s sort of like that, but instead of harnessing your computer, crowdsourcing harnesses other people willing to work for a per-task fee.

The easiest way to put this power to work for your company is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. This somewhat strangely named service gives you the power to crowdsource almost any task you might imagine. To get started using the service, you’ll need to first create a HIT (human intelligence task). You will probably need some technical help, especially if you want to build this capability into a web-based application.

Here’s a good example of what’s possible – the transcription service named CastingWords. This web-based service uses the Mechanical Turk service to transcribe MP3 files – for as little as 75 cents per minute.

Couldn’t you find a way to improve your current offering and sell more with the help of a cast of thousands?

So, how do you make sure that people actually know what they’re doing? If special skills are required to complete your tasks, you can require that workers pass a qualification test before they are allowed to work on your HITs (human intelligence tasks). Alternately, you can require that a worker has historically completed a minimum percentage of their tasks correctly or a minimum number of previous HITs in order to qualify for your HIT.

The best way to learn about crowdsourcing is to try it. Don’t be frightened - it’s really just applying the same incentive approach that’s been used in getting people to complete marketing research surveys for years. Only now, you can use this system to get people to do everything from writing blog entries to verifying the details of everyone in your address book.



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