Have you tried NetVibes yet? If not, you should. It is a really powerful, flexible service that allows you to control the way you experience the web. It is the poster child for RSS feeds and web services and open architectures. And it is the poster child for viral marketing. it has become a large, global service through the power of word of mouth with virtually no marketing dollars spent. Never was that word of mouth stronger than at the Le Web conference. It was the sweetheart of the show. The name "NetVibes" was intoned dozens, if not hundreds of times throughout the conference. Speakers pointed to NetVibes as evidence that Europe could compete in a global market and they pointed to Tariq Krim, NetVibe's founder, as evidence that European entrepreneurs had the drive, smarts and savvy of their counterparts in Silicon Valley. I had the good fortune of spending some time chatting with Tariq at Le Web (and at Web 2.0 before that) and I will certainly second that. He is not only smart and accomplished but a really charming guy. I have no doubt that Tariq's magnetism has had a lot to do with NetVibes' great success at spreading the good word.
Speaking of spreading the good word, I have another superhero to add to the online marketing pantheon. His name is Jonathan Coulton and he is my favorite new musician in years. I love Jonathan's music. If you haven't heard Code Monkey yet, stop reading right now and CLICK HERE (Michael Sippey gave me a hard time last time I wrote "CLICK HERE" in all caps -- he suggested that I had been seduced by the likes of Ronco and Guthy Renker -- to Michael I say, CLICK HERE -- $1.3 Billion!). But the chances are you have heard Code Monkey already. Not just because it is a fantastic song. But because Jonathan has used the Internet to its fullest to spread the word about, well, Jonathan. Code Monkey is licensed under a Creative Commons license and he has encouraged fans to create their own music videos, use it to back slideshows, find inspiration for their artwork (all of which Jonathan blogs about when he learns of someone's take of his music), and now Jonathan himself is holding a remix competition in which he has released the source files for Code Monkey and is encouraging people to make their own versions of the song.
Not surprisingly, Jonathan's website isn't a static website, it's a blog and he is an active writer, engaging his audience to be part of the conversation and part of the show. He writes from home. He writes from the road. He's funny and smart. And, of course, he has a podcast. For a year he wrote a "Thing a Week" -- a new song every week for 52 weeks -- which, while it sounds like it nearly killed him, resulted in some amazingly great songs, all of which he shared on his weekly podcast. On top of all that, rather than discourage the taping of his shows, Jonathan frequently points to videos of his performances that have been posted on YouTube and the like. The result of Jonathan embracing new media to its fullest has been a whole lot of great publicity from all corners of the web (now even VentureBlog) and beyond. My hat's off to Jonathan for schooling the labels in how to do marketing in this post-Napster era. I have no doubt that it will lead to great success for him and we can all learn from what Jonathan has been able to accomplish with a bunch of hard work, a pile of talent and a broadband connection.
Update: I got an email the other day from Brian Dear, the founder of Eventful. Brian is also a Jonathan Coulton fan and wanted to point out that Eventful is yet another Web 2.0 marketing channel that Jonathan has embraced. You can not only use Eventful to track when Jonathan is coming to your town. You can also use Eventful Demand to request that he come to a theater near you. If enough people "demand" a Jonathan Coulton show in their city, he'll hop on a plane, train, automobile to play for you and the hordes of other voracious fans in your neighborhood. I joined the Demand for a Jonathan Coulton show in the Bay Area and my wish has been granted. Hope to see some of you at the JC show at Cafe du Nord on Sunday, February 18th.