Friday, November 13, 2009

There’s Potential with Hotwall

As Strategic Communications Group’s (Strategic) has increased its profile and standing in social media circles, we are approached from time-to-time by Web 2.0 start-ups looking for feedback on the beta version of an offering.

We view our role in this evaluation process as time well invested because, when appropriate, we are able to incorporate a new tool to enhance the success of a client program.

Earlier this week, my colleague Shany Seawright arranged for an introductory briefing with the senior team at Hotwall. The company’s new custom-URL creator is kind of like on steroids, offering users value in several areas:

--Build greater awareness through the creation of a brand-specific URL, rather than the random and non-descript links provided by other shorteners.

--Allow readers to provide real-time feedback through comment functionality attached to the linked URL.

--More defined lead generation capability through the incorporation of a promotional link in the browser tool bar.

--Evaluation of reader clicks and engagement through analytics functionality.

While off to a good start, Hotwall remains a work in progress. Much of the functionality mirrors what is already available in market adopted Web 2.0 tools.

More problematic for Hotwall is the company’s financial model. There is a free version of the tool, yet the more feature rich application sports a price tag of $50 a year per user.

This positions Hotwall against free Web 2.0 offerings where it loses on price every time. Why would I pay $50 for something that is just marginally better than a free tool?

Hotwall also comes up short as an enterprise offering. It needs a broader feature set, as well as more comprehensive analytics to garner interest from corporate marketers.

We may move forward with Hotwall by testing their tool in a couple of our client social media marketing programs. This should give us the ability to provide real-world feedback to their management. I suspect this insight will get them thinking more about features, functionality and positioning.

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