I’ve been pitched story ideas on about 100 different widgets in the last six months. This widget does that. That widget does this. Rarely do I write about them because few of them do anything different. It’s just the same crap in different mascara. Besides, I’m starting to grow tired of the word, “widget.”
However, I found one that not only has a very cool concept, but that launches today on the websites of — get this — mainstream businesses that are pushing third-party content they do not control to their customers, all in the name of a more enriching website experience. (My first question to Susan Bratton, president of Personal Life Media who pitched the idea to me, was, “Can I have your clients have a word or two with some of Doe-Anderson’s clients? Please?)
Personal Life Media has developed a widget that serves up to five different podcasts that can be played wherever the widget sits. For instance, the widget over on the right hand side has my five favorite podcasts in it. Go ahead. Click and listen. While you’re here checking out Social Media Explorer, you can listen to podcasts I choose as extra content to provide you with.
Now take it out of the blog context and put it on a corporate website as additional, engaging content.
AccuQuote is a term life insurance company. They’re going to start providing complementary content they don’t produce (or pay anything for since the feed is free and public) on their website. When is the last time you went to a life insurance website and were engaged by the content?
I thought so.
“With competition pressuring from all directions, companies that leverage the content of others in order to complement their own content will establish themselves as a consistent ‘go to’ resource,” said Sean Cheyney, Vice-President for Business Development. “At AccuQuote, weâ€™ve reached out to our customers and asked them to share their interests, and they have responded by asking us to find content and companies that match their own interests. The widget from Personal Life Media allows us to meet the requests of our customers through an easy to deliver mechanism.”
“The genres in their podcasts happen to target our particular market base and we see it as a benefit or luxury for our visitors to have the opportunity to listen to an informative podcast on a particular subject,” explained Al Vitaro, president of Personal Life client (and way-cool furniture and accessories boutique) Zen By Design. “In most cases, we would be very concerned about the content, but Susan and Tim Bratton of Personal Life Media have created a classy presentation across the board and we haven’t come across anything that would be considered less than first class.”
Alyssa O’Mara of Cardscan also sees the advantage. She said, “At CardScan we define ourselves as a solutions company. Providing respected third party content on our site is an exciting way that we can provide our customers with information that might help them in their business.”
O’Mara pointed to the importance of selecting partners wisely when dealing with third-party content, but also said the fact the content helps Cardscan’s customers find solutions to answers the company may not have, offsets the risk. One of Cardscan’s contact solutions is business card readers.
Frankly, the widget itself is cool, but the thought that businesses — and mainstream, regular businesses, not just in-the-bubble tech types — are beginning to open their eyes to the concept of building engaging websites, providing third-party content and using syndicated, free content without aneurysms and legal roadblocks is refreshing. The combination of the two made this particular widget one worth sharing.
Bratton explained that the idea for the podcast widget actually came from marketers she was trying to sell sponsorships to:
“As I called on marketers to sponsor the 25 shows on the Personal Life Media network I heard a similar refrain: ‘We like your shows but instead of advertising on them, we want the content (the actual show) on OUR website.’ The client’s site-side mentality was a reoccurring theme. So we built marketers a free widget that they could trick out to match their site with their logo and feature up to any five podcasts they liked. And any marketer can use this with any pocasters for free.”
Personal Life Media is primarily a blog and podcasting network with shows and blogs on a variety of topics. Bratton explained that the businesses she called upon were looking for, “sticky, episodic, very germane content,” to surprise and delight their website visitors with. The visitors can then grab the player and post it on their own site or one of 23 social networking sites (Facebook, etc.) which then spreads the logo and branding of the business providing the widget.
I’m not convinced very many people will take the Social Media Explorer podcast player and dump it on their blogs or sites, but if my five shows are your five favorites, the additional Social Media Explorer branding on your site, blog or network profile will certainly be greatly appreciated. If I ever order T-shirts, I’ll send you one.
And by the way, Susan Bratton is the chair emeritus for Ad:Tech conferences and actually emailed to THANK Kat French for her not-so-good review of Ad:Tech Chicago last week. Yeah, I know. She was also trying to pitch me in the same week, but damn! She thanked us?!
So, even though I think one of the most over-used and under-impressive words in the online world right now is, “widget,” here’s one that got my attention. Check out mine, get one of your own and, if the opportunity and strategy is right, recommend one to your company or client for their next website upgrade. I’ll almost guarantee you’ll get a, “That’s pretty cool,” from more than a few people.
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