Thursday, July 26, 2007

Put some fun in your features

posted by Andy Leff
I'm always talking about the ways Web 2.0 can help businesses. Well, the Miami Herald agrees with me, and backs it up with some pretty impressive numbers.

The article pulls examples from two major companies, Carnival Cruise Lines and Burger King. Both have zeroed in on Web 2.0 to reel in customers.

Side note: While these are examples from large corporations, you can certainly use similar Web 2.0 strategies on a smaller scale to reach your customers. Ok, now back to the juicy stuff!

Let's start with Carnival. After only two weeks, its Web site's new interactive features are already the company's strongest marketing tools.

One of the features, Funship Island, lets browsers get an up-close and personal tour of a Carnival cruise ship. It offers everything from a walk on the cruise deck -- realistic enough to make you seasick -- to a dizzying trip down the water slide.

The day it launched, Funship Island attracted more than 200,000 unique visitors, with many of them spending more than an hour on the site.

In addition, the new Carnival Connections page helps visitors plan a cruise for every event, from birthday parties to weddings. Carnival also set up a blog, which became so popular they scheduled a cruise exclusively for fans of the blog -- all 1 million of them.

But interactive Web 2.0 isn't just for luxury vacationers. Burger King created an interactive Web site feature that lets customers scan a picture and "Simpsonize" themselves. This shows them what they would look like as cartoon characters, and then helps them share their images with the social networking sphere.

In the first three days of's launch, the site received more than 16 million hits, and more than 700,000 photo uploads. In fact, visitors were uploading an average of three photos each, and spending about 12 minutes on the site at a time.

The bottom line: Entertaining Web 2.0 features -- from elaborate, interactive video demonstrations, to clean, simple blogs -- draw more eyes to your company's site, and engage people with your company name. It's a surefire way to ignite word of mouth, and encourage repeat visits.

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