Remember widgets? In the early days of corporate social media (i.e. 2005 - 2006), widgets were all the rage. They were light and viral; the minimal effort to support them post-lauch made them more attractive to brands than blogs or podcasts.
Fast forward a couple years and I was speaking with Bob Garfield of Ad Age about widgets. This is the piece of mind that I gave him about widgets, which he published in the weekly and I think in his book:
"When you can combine utility with the purpose of your brand, that's the opposite of why people hate marketing. Instead of fooling them with the old brand-marketing song and dance, it's not a promise; it's a reality: 'This is what the traffic is like. This is what the weather is. This is what the stock market is right now."
Fast forward another couple years and I'm listening to Tim Duggan of Mercury Girl speaking about mobile applications. Suddenly everything old is new again; the factors that will make brands' mobile applications successful are the same principles that made a good old widget: utility, functionality, value.
If you've been trying to figure out how to think about the new world of applications, look back at your resources on widgets and run a find-and-replace...it might get you up to speed sooner than you imagined.