People may dislike using the term 'widget' to describe tiny Web applications for blogs and social networks, but they certainly love widget applications. According to Garrick Schmitt in The Razorfish Consumer Experience Report, "widgets are remaking the Internet" with hundreds of millions of consumer downloads occurring.
David Lenehan defines widgets on his blog ReadWriteWeb as follows:
"A Web widget can be best described as a mini application that can add functionality to your Web page, blog, social profile, etc. If you find a widget that you like, you simply copy and paste some code and add it to the HTML of your Web page. Photo galleries, news, videos, advertising, mp3 players and pregnancy countdown tickers! You name it, there is probably a widget that does it."
Internet users are interacting with widgets every day -- playing YouTube videos within another site, adding a Project Playlist song to their MySpace page, and posting video feeds on their friends' walls -- and in the process, they are freely distributing decentralized content all over the Web.
With millions of widgets used to share and consume information, advertisers and marketers should not underestimate this viral future of Web content. More than ever, consumers have the opportunity to customize the information and entertainment they take in and to share that information freely through a variety of Web services. The end result is an Internet landscape made up of highly distributed, customized and networked content. If advertisers fail to grasp the entire ripple effect of content distribution, continuing to focus on singular Web sites as a one-stop shopping place for information, they are likely to miss out on the Web as a whole.
Are you considering widgets when you discuss social media strategies with the companies you work with?