For a few months, I’ve been looking into an interesting Left Coast startup called Spongecell which helps companies promote events virally. (The only problem with this company’s presentation is that it’s easy to call it “SpongeBob” instead, especially you have two small children (grin), but apparently the founders find that amusing.)
Well, now I’ve meddled with the Spongecell tools for a while. I’ve also brought them to the attention of my husband, a Web designer who manages a site for a folk artist that does lots of gigs. And my conclusion is that if Spongecell can make them a bit simpler to use, they’ve got a huge hit on their hands. While it’s not as easy as it should be to wire up multiple events–such as the dozen-odd shows being performed this quarter by our folkie friends–the result is worth the trouble.
Here’s how it works. Users who want to promote an event enter event details into Spongecell’s hosted application, creating a customized event page. Users who visit the event page can then easily move the event from the page onto their personal calendars, their iGoogle interface or Outlook.
They can also share notifications via e-mail or into a social network setting like Facebook or Digg, or promote their events through a Java or Flash widget.
Spongecell also allows users to send up to 1,000 free e-mails (using its templates if they wish) to promote their event. The e-mails offer the same capabilities as the customized. They can also send out SMS messages.
Then, there’s tracking. If the user wants to know how users are interacting with their event content, they can check on forwards, acceptances and the like using Spongecell’s reporting technology.
At present, Spongecell doesn’t charge send users for the majority of these functions, though they do impose a fee if users want to send out more than 1,000 messages.
Now, to be honest, my husband found the Spongecell a bit too intimidating to implement–though he later found out that he could have imported those dozen-odd events into Spongecell fairly simply from a spreadsheet (.csv) or calendar file (.ics).
Even so, I see tremendous potential in this approach. While sites like Facebook do a lot to tap the viral potential of their messaging and sharing capabilities, Spongecell takes things a step further by offering viral functions that cut across networks and systems. I’m eager to see where they take this.–Anne
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