Whether your web marketing plan is more grande soy vanilla latte or venti caramel macchiato, there is a Twitter widget for you.
What is a Twitter widget? Twitter widgets are most often HTML applications (sometimes even Flash) that Twitter users can add to a blog, website or social media profile. They help carry the conversation over to your website and put it to work.
From search, to profile (timeline) widgets, there is also a wide variety of options. Twitter offers several of their own, and there are many unofficial widgets you can use as well. For a little more clarity on Twitter terminology and getting the big picture, there is a glossary available here. I've also been working on my own Twitter glossary.
Here is a quick overview of some of the most popular widgets. In short, it is as easy as choosing your features, grabbing the code, and adding it to your website. You can also choose specific visual appearance features, such as the color of links in tweeted messages:
Twitter Widgets for Website Marketing
Log in to your Twitter profile > Settings > Widgets > Create new
Or, just go here if you're already logged in: https://twitter.com/settings/widgets
User Timeline Widget: This allows you to put Twitter profiles/timelines in real time on your website.
Favorites Widget: You can add a feed of tweets that you "favorite" to your website. One way to use a "favorites" widget for website marketing is to favorite tweets that mention your company's product.
List Widget: Creates lists of Twitter profiles you are interested in or subscribe to and adds them to your site. This blog post from ReadWriteWeb may be a few years old now, but it has some really cool list widgets that you can easily grab the code for and use.
Search Widget: Most commonly used with a hashtag, you can add a specific Twitter search feed.
Popular Unofficial Widgets
- TwitStamp Widget: TwitStamp allows you to use your current Twitter status in the form of an image. Using this widget generates a link of your status you can post on websites, blogs, forums and more.
- WordPress Twitter Widget: With WordPress being one of the most popular blogging platforms out there, they have their own official Twitter widget.
Which Twitter Widget Should You Use?
The possibilities are endless and having web marketing goals clearly defined will help you decide. For example, the list widget can be a very effective tool for specific industries. From investment banking to zoo keeping, you could stay atop the latest news in your industry with a simple list widget. Let's say you manage the website for a zoo in Iceland. Compiling a list of the top Twitter feeds around the world about zoo keeping into one list and adding that to the website puts a lot of relevant news right at the fingertips of visitors, even in Iceland.
Thinking about a search widget using a hashtag? It is a popular tool and can effectively zone in on events, be it global current events or your company's annual meeting.
However, choose your hashtag carefully. McDonald's got more than it bargained for in 2012 with a campaign using the hashtag #McStories. It was intended to engage users with the brand, and it did, but it sparked backlash with comments about food quality and negative customer experiences. McDonald's promptly abandoned the use of this hashtag, but the damage was already done. It bears repeating; choose your hashtag carefully before deciding to add it to your website.
Other Examples and Ideas
Restaurants might display tweets from their customers. Journalists or other professionals who have to stay on top of breaking news can create a widget showing the feed of top global news organizations. Even college professors are starting to use hashtags and Twitter widgets to provide focused social media content for their students.
Twitter widgets are an extremely useful web marketing tool that can promote engaging with your customers in new ways. If you are new to widgets, like many things in life, the best way to learn is to dig in and get your hands dirty.