I toyed around with OnlyWire for a while today and wanted to share some initial observations but first a little bit of foreplay.
Bookmarking is a vestige of the Mosaic browser (circa 1993) and has subsequently emerged into a persistent feature of Web browsers. Bookmarks aren’t rocket science:
- There are a lot of pages on the Internet.
- Some of these pages are interesting.
- It might be handy to have a tool to help remember the interesting pages.
Pre-bust, a number of venture-backed startups tacked on an additional step in this progression:
- It might be handy to have an easy way to share interesting pages with others.
Of course, this was all pre-bust and all the companies that were working on implementing this last point flamed out because there was no financial model behind these startups.
Post-bust, a new wave of startups (most notably Delicious) began exploring this question once again and some of them achieved a modicum of financial success (i.e. Digg). Although there has been limited financial achievement from social bookmarking sites, the general usage has been more significant and at this point in time the marketers enter the progression and add another point:
- There are a lot of bookmarking sites with a lot of eyeballs so it would be good to share our message with that audience.
And predictably, the service providers enter the equation with:
- There are a lot of marketers spending a lot of time posting business messages to social bookmark sites so let’s create a tool that helps them streamline the process.
Enter OnlyWire and a few others.
So at any rate, OnlyWire is a tool that makes it easier for marketers to post their business messages to multiple sharing sites without having to spend the time and individually share their message. In fact, the one-off nature of other sharing tools like ShareThis and AddThis is a differentiator that they point to in the brief introductory video on their home page.
‘Saving people time’ is a great benefit prop for online applications however in general I ask the question ‘What is the act that is streamlined.’ For instance, if a tool helps people save time involved with monitoring social media sites (i.e. Radian6) then that is a good thing. Monitoring and analysis of online conversations is good.
If a tool helps people save time interacting within various social media sites that is also good.
The issue for products like OnlyWire is that I’m not sure if they are a tool that helps people save time engaging within social media or spamming online communities. My initial impression is that in the spam-engage continuum, OnlyWire falls further on the ‘spam’ side and that is fine – as long as their roadmap is eventually focused on moving customers from spam to engagement.
From a realistic perpsective, posting a bunch of messages (without engaging) is a short term proposition. You will probably drive traffic at the outset but over time if you are just posting and not engaging you will be either tuned out by the community or banished.
Now I know that since their acquisition they have attempted to place filters in place to prevent spam practices but if I were PM’ing OnlyWire I would seriously be thinking about how to solve the following problems:
- How to help customers be selective about the community sites where they are going to be active (instead of providing them with a big page of community sites where they enter credentials);
- How to help customers listen to conversations going on in those communities so they are actually plugging-in. This doesn’t mean offering a full blown monitoring solution like Radian6 but it may mean helping them aggregate and organize feeds;
- How to help customers engage beyond their own posts -
My guess is that a use case where one customer signs up for two or three sites and spends time engaging is going to result in greater longterm tangible benefits (SEO, traffic, business, etc.) than spending the same allotment of time autoposting to thirty sites.
What other people are saying about OnlyWire:
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