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ESPN's Persistent Score Panel... Very App-like

There's lots of innovation currently around persistant headers, footers, and bars. I wrote about Quora's notification 'panel' last week. You can also check out Apture (which I had been testing), Meebo, Wibya, etc. As with Quora, the 'bar' phenomenon is making its way to the publisher side. And it is being used creatively to deliver key news (ie Quora :: notifications), navigational flows, or promotional content.

Here is another good example.

Months ago, ESPN introduced an interactive score panel (almost like the sports ticker that sits persistently on ESPN's TV channels). When browsing content within in a particular sport / league, ESPN now has the that panel lock atop the screen to provide persistent live scoring. The UI is very slick as the bar is glossy, animates nicely and maneuvers down the pages seamlessly.

Expect to see more and more of this around the web (and mobile). The experience itself is very much like mobile applications... and the web itself is starting to look and interact more like apps.

Here is the NFL score header on ESPN

As you scroll down, the scores panel attaches itself atop the screen and follows

SEO: Content is King; Social Media: Context is King

While leading natural search strategy at eBay, we had a motto: Content is King. It wasn't a unique tagline - even CKX, Inc (American Idol, Elvis Presley, etc) stands for "Content is King". While at the Polaris Digital Media Summit in Jackson Hole this past week - several folks (including myself) referred to social media as the "new SEO". When it comes to traffic acquisition and product marketing strategies, Facebook is indeed the new Google - it is top of mind for marketers in much the same way that natural search was a primary focus over the last several years.

And if SEO is driven by content... Social media is driven by context.

Google :: Facebook SEO :: SGO Content :: Context

In fact, context is so critical to social efficacy that it has been billed as SGO: Social Graph Optimization. Meebo founder Seth Sternberg is credited with the term: "Search has been great traffic driver. Now social media drives [traffic] and needs to be optimized." Much of the conversation at the summit was focused on driving traffic through social media and optimizing content across the social graph. The consensus was that context drives relevancy... and thus virality... and thus efficacy. Consider social sites like Quora and Aardvark as examples: using Facebook Connect and algorithms, questions are delivered contextually based upon your social graph, knowledge and activity.

And as the world of friends / followers, status updates and 'check-ins' grows - context helps stand out among the noise and therefore alleviate users from being overwhelmed.

This is further complicated by Facebook's "News Feed" - which itself is akin to Google's black-box search algorithm. We have a general sense for how it works and what Facebook values: activity (comments, likes, shares) results in content being "news worthy". As it has been described by Alex Shultz before, it is about "interestingness squared":

- content that is considered "interesting" is rewarded (highlighted in newsfeed with better chance to becoming viral) - and content that is uninteresting (ie irrelevant) is punished (relegated to "live feed") and consequently has difficulty gaining visibility

As you think through social media and optimization, think through how it relates to your brand and product experience... and how the outputted content relates specifically to users (both the publishers and consumers). The more relevant and closed that loop is, the more effective the experience will be and the more likely your users are to engage / share.

Meebo's Share Functionality on TechCrunch: Drag & Drop onto Facebook & Twitter

If you have visited TechCrunch today, you likely noticed the Meebo chat integration in the page footer. The Meebo bar allows users to connect via Facebook, AIM, and other popular clients. It also acts as a carriage for rich ad-units (similar to VideoEgg's roll-over ads). I accidentally happened upon a different, equally interesting component of the Meebo integration: you can share images and content directly onto Twitter, Facebook, email and instant messaging. Simply hover over an image and then drag it into the header's drop down icons. Very slick and an obvious value-add for the publisher: one click viral promotion.

Facebook uses the "Facebook Share" functionality to post to the feed (I imagine Facebook Connect would be the next version). When posting to Twitter, it populates your speech box with a "short" URL ( and the article's title (I imagine the next version will have a bitly-encoded URL): Right Before Facebook Bought It, FriendFeed’s Real-Time Stream Saw A Flood Of Usage