Posted by: Shalabh | October 13, 2008

Apps and widgets- Cool toys or neat tools for social media engagement?

Came across this cool tool on the web: Wordle

What does it do?

Give it your website address or paste a random paragraph from your blog – it arranges them in cool patterns and generates a word cloud for you.

In their words: “Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends. “

Seems to have been created by a dude called Jonathan Feinberg (contact on site) and seems to very popular given the secondly updates (!) on the gallery

You can use either of these options to create a wordle:
(A)Enter the URL of any blog, blog feed, or any other web page that has an Atom or RSS feed.
(B)Paste in a bunch of text; OR
(C) Enter a user name to see their tags
Here’s one generated from my blog:

Shalabh Pandey's word cloud from his blog on digital marketing and media trends

Shalabh Pandey

It can get a bit addictive after a while as you try to play with seemingly endless iterations. I noticed the cloud is slightly different from the one generated by WordPress for my blog- though wordle seems to give you choices of design and word arrangements- the larger instances of words are marked by bugger sizes.

Seems I have blogged a lot on search, asia and marketing, and prefer to use words like market, online, video, tips, media etc

There definitely is a ‘cool factor’ (more than anything else- even the makers dub it as ‘toy’).

But look more closely-it offers a simple yet great tool to engage the ‘active’ social beings on the Internet and thus offers a great enablement tool for them. Everyone can find a unique and fun way to use the tool- resulting in a viral snowballing effect-from influencers to ‘sneezers’ to ‘cautious adapters’. You can showcase on your blog, on your social networking site or just as an image on your messenger.

This simple tool, once measured in the context of behavioral theories like the Social Cognitive Theory assumes profound significance.  The theory identifies human behavior as an interaction of personal factors, behavior and the environment. Though the theory was developed much before the internet, its adaptation is very much relevant for the Internet as I am discovering. Social cognitive theory is helpful for understanding and predicting both individual and group behavior and identifying methods in which behavior can be modified or changed.

The success of many popular widgets and apps can be attributed to this theory. I might be the first one blogging about this theory, but more of this shpeel later.

For this particular tool, I’m not sure if the developers realize it, but this could be further developed into a cool marketing tool by brands in a million ways- with or without involvement of the site! (Now that’s not very pretty is it?)

Try it out and let me know if there are some interesting ones you spotted in the gallery- or are there any ways you think this can be used as a tool for any of the brands you are working on?



  1. hi shalabh,
    not sure how social cognitive theory is getting connected here. unless we are saying that social cognitive theory explains why we tend to use these tools. then it is true of many cool tools.

    i also wonder why all of us see any thing that new happens on net with the ‘marketing man’s angle’. most of what is written and talked about internet and associated developments are in the context of marketing. it is as though users are on internet exist only to be a part of a marketing story. or as if any thing developed on net is for marketing.

    am i making sense? perhaps debatable!

  2. Hi Unny
    Thanks for raising a debate here! Whew- at least someone read the post (just joking- this incidentally turned out to be the post with quite a lot of reads).

    As you rightly identified- the theory (as is usually the case) postulates and tries to understand human behavior and why do they behave in the way they do. In this case, apart from a personal joy in using the tool (and in some cases finding utility) there is an inherent influence exercised by a person’s immediate and extended environment that makes them endorse a product or behave in a particular manner. Hence the reference to the theory. If looked at carefully, it might help marketers carefully posture and claim a part of conversation that is the new marketing.

    The theory was not developed in the internet era as I mentioned, but it could be adapted to understand the somewhat archaic phenomenon that internet behavior has become.

    I also agree that everything that assumes scale or is perceived ‘cool’ is hogged by ever anxious marketers.

    However, everything that assumes scale and is worthy of getting a message across- becomes a media- from messages on elephant backs to cool widgety things- and does merit some marketing attention.

    Also, from another angle, most legally valid developments- either online or offline have an aim to monetize- either directly or indirectly- and thus can be a part of a marketing story.

    If development or innovation were sex, money is the aphrodisiac- gets you in the mood!

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