Don't Fall for the 'Cool Kid' Argument with Web 2.0

Ann All

When I was in sixth grade, I tried to get my mom to let me see (old fogey alert!) "Saturday Night Fever" by telling her "all the other kids" had already seen it or were going that very weekend. In what is surely karmic payback, my second-grader uses the same lame argument on me at least a dozen times a week. "All the other kids watch wrestling," he said the other night as I was telling him for roughly the thousandth time that he couldn't tune in to "WWE Smackdown."


This trip down memory lane is my long-winded attempt to warn companies not to adopt a newish technology just because "all of the other companies" appear to be doing so. That's what I suspect is happening with some companies' use of Web 2.0 tools in an effort to strengthen customer relationships. And I am not the only one.


In this "it's funny because it's true" item on Fast Company, the writer points out some not-so-successful uses of mediums like Twitter and Facebook. A whopping 34 Facebook users have added Papa John's Order Online Widget, which lets customers "place their order up to 21 days in advance of their preferred delivery or pickup date and time." The author writes: "Remember that time you got a pizza craving for two weeks from next Tuesday at 7 p.m. and couldn't act on it?" Yeah, me neither.


She defends the pizza chain by noting that its widget "theoretically makes sense." The same isn't true of the Ford Movie Challenge & WIN!, a Facebook app that allowed users to predict how movies would perform at the box office. A few months ago, it had 40,875 monthly active users. Big deal, she writes. "Unless the folks at Ford have single-handedly brought back the drive-in, I can't see how this is on message."


I wonder if Facebook and Twitter will go the route of Second Life. As I wrote last July, lots of companies established and then quickly abandoned "islands" and other promotional outposts in the virtual community.


I like this quote from Gartner's Adam Sarner, included in a article that I mentioned in yesterday's post about Web 2.0 and the recession:

Every social application needs a mutual purpose -- what's in it for the customer and what's in it for the company. Companies in the next two years are all going to struggle with this idea of mutual purpose. As economic times get bad it's going to be vital to prove the value.

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Nov 14, 2008 4:38 AM John Van Dinther John Van Dinther  says:
I love the way you zero in on, "Mutual Purpose". For so long I was telling clients to put something on their websites that clients could use - something free and easy. That wasn't the clear call to action that, "Make a tool that serves you AND your customers." is. They get it immediately. I suspect you lost your thread when you began to wonder if Twitter & Facebook were going to wither because useless tools could get tossed into the mix. Twitter & Facebook are environments that lend themselves to new and experimental widgets. That's part of their success, their ability to shrug off the useless bits without leaving scars while taking on new bits like a decorator crab. Those Home Depot islands in 2nd Life are nasty eyesores, but I've been adding and cutting Fbook apps without a hitch. Some tools will become sticky, then they will become ubiquitous, get integrated into v2.0 and become part of the environment. Mutual purpose is a fundamental principal, like diminishing returns and perception of value - it's here to stay, and, on a certain level, it was with us since the beginning. Reply

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