NRDC brings analysis to social networking

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The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has brought a measurement element to its recently launched social media site, branded It's Your Nature, by launching a widget.

It hopes to address a problem many marketers face with the rising use of social media: how to track user activity.

The widget was launched on October 22 and features a calendar of concerts for musicians like Ben Harper, with options to order tickets, send details to a mobile phone, send an e-mail to friends or save to a personal calendar. There's also a news section. Anyone can add the widget to their space on a social networking site.

NRDC launched its microsite, at www.itsyournature.org, six months ago. It targets a cultural, creative audience with videos and songs.

Kelly Cox, integrated marketing specialist for the nonprofit environmental group, said the new widget, from Gydget Inc., "is a great next step" because the organization now knows "where users are, where the widget is posted and what users are doing with it." The widget has the kind of trackable functions that will enable NRDC to give an ROI to its social networking activity.

To introduce the widget, NRDC sent an e-mail to singer KT Tunstall's opt-in list. Anyone who installs the widget by November 26 is entered in a drawing to win a guitar signed by Tunstall.

Coinciding with the launch of the widget, NRDC also unveiled a new
marketing campaign targeting office workers called "Use Your Brain." The first video from the campaign is about the widget and features a zombie who brings coffee to work in take-out cups.

In its first week, the video was viewed over 25,000 times. "Making the video the highlight of the widget helped us get as many views as we got," Cox said, adding that NRDC's videos on YouTube are viewed about 1,400 times a week.

But, YouTube videos don't provide enough information to be useful to companies who want to track user behavior, Cox explained. "The back-end of viral video hasn't been so effective," she said. This is because analytics beyond basic
number of views can be diffcult to come by.

Gerardo Capiel, founder and CEO of Gydget Inc., said, "Probably, only your most loyal customers are going to grab your widget. But, if you bundle it with other content, you can make it more attractive" and potentially reach beyond loyal customers.

For example, some of the bands featured in the widget have put it on their own Web sites.

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