Today I am looking at how Slide uses new media to tell their story and market to their customers. It is part of a select group of postings on companies including blip.tv and meebo that were profiled in Business 2.0 Magazine 25 Web 2.0 startups to watch in 2007.
Slide has developed to tool to create customizable and easily assembled slide shows of photos that can be embedded in a blog or a MySpace page, sent out in an RSS feed, or streamed to a desktop as a screensaver.
I posed the following questions to Max Levchin founder of Slide and co-founder of PayPal. Max has also dabbled in producing movies. He was one of the executive producers of Thank You for Smoking.
Dan Greenfield: Slide just got a big boost from Business 2.0 who said the winners will reinvent new ways to tap into what the Web brings to the party: instant feedback, instant analysis, and the collective wisdom of a billion users. How is Slide tapping into web 2.0?
Max Levchin: Never sure just what “Web 2.0″ means exactly. There are a great number of fundamental trends that shape and inspire what Slide is: the ever-cheapening broadband, proliferation of inexpensive digital photo and video cameras, the rapid rise of social communication and self-expression platforms, collaborative filtering research, etc. More than 50 million people worldwide view at least one Slide product every single day. So long as that number keeps growing, I’m confident we are tapping into just the right things.
Greenfield: You are generating some great buzz these days. How is “new media” shaping your PR and marketing efforts?
Levchin: The “cascade of influence” is occasionally inverted — even some of the most powerful stories start from within. These days, Google Alerts weighs all sources equally, and A-list bloggers get pre-briefed on companies’ most sensitive news. When we have a story to tell, we ask ourselves, “where should this start?” Sometimes the answer is “with the people,” sometimes “with the Journal.”
Greenfield: With new media, isn’t PR, marketing and word of mouth all the same thing?
Levchin: Not quite, though there certainly is some blur. Word-of-mouth is so last century; “word of mouse” is the new law of marketing — people pushing products and services onto their friends because the value to an individual improves as others join in. That’s the very best (and cheapest) kind of marketing.
Greenfield: I noticed that much of the press coverage featured on your website is mainstream media New York Times, Business Week, Reuters, Fortune, etc. How is new media validating your company?
Levchin: The absolute best possible way they can — hundreds of thousands of bloggers, ultra-popular and not, are using our products on their pages today. This is about as strong of an endorsement as we could ask for.
Greenfield: What is the strategy behind your company’s blog? Is it achieving its objective?
Levchin: Our serves two main purposes: 1) it’s an informal way to disseminate relevant company information — new product features, customer service issues, etc. — to our users, and 2) it gives our users more of a feel for who we are, the people behind the company; they can also leave comments and get comments back from us in a public forum.
Greenfield: How does your company’s size and product lend itself to new media marketing?
Levchin: The causality is inverted here: it is because of our viral growth that we’ve been able to maintain a relatively small engineering-heavy staff and the obsessive focus on the overall product and consumer value.
Greenfield: What lessons can other companies large and small draw from your new media strategy?
Levchin: Focus on delivering value to the consumer. Everything else will fall into place at the right time.
Greenfield: Thank you Max.
While I suspect Word of Mouth Marketing advocates may take issue with Max’s tongue in cheek contention, word of mouse is a powerful tool in a Web 2.0 marketing arsenal. As Max points at a recent Red Herring conference, widgets help companies like Slide leverage blogs, web pages and social networks to attract new users. With widgets, the product is the marketing, which is a distinguishing characteristic of web 2.0 companies. Slide’s widget allows users to upload and share their pictures and content.
Another characteristic of web 2.0 companies is their ability to tap into users’ need for individual expression. Slide’s widget is highly customizable. Slide gives users a great deal of flexibility in how they present their slide show. Slide’s blog is a perfect, inexpensive vehicle to engage customers, solicit direct user feedback and introduce new features to spur further usage and adoption.
So with a track record for success and a viable business model, the question remains whether Max is scripting another PayPal blockbuster?
Let me get back to you.
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