Cooler Widgets for Social Media Community
A few months back, I had a chat with Josh Stinchcomb, Publisher, Wired Digital. The company encompasses Wired.com, Ars Technica, Webmonkey and reddit — all of which feature user-generated content to some degree.
Josh and his team strive to build smart ways to engage their sites’ communities. I poked around after our conversation and realized he wasn’t kidding. Conversation is rampant on those sites.
One way to connect users to the reddit community caught my eye. The social media site has a widget generator. Visitors select the type and number of links for their widget and the page spits out the HTML to embed it in a website, blog, profile or wherever.
When it’s done, the widget will update as stories move around reddit. That’s so cool! The customization is limited, but most publisher widgets I’ve seen don’t offer customization.
And the simplicity is the key. The generator isn’t going to win any aesthetic awards, but it’s fast and works like a charm. The whole site seems to follow the Craigslist and Drudge Report models of utility over beauty.
The widgets drive traffic back to reddit and keep users connected when away from the site. They also have that elusive “cool” factor that gets people interested.
So, rather than a “me too!” social media tactic, the folks at Wired Digital put their own spin on the widget and came up with a better, more-customizable way to drive traffic. There’s a good lesson here: Don’t photocopy your inspiration, build on it.