First look at the social browser RockMelt Beta
While it is not the first social browser, RockMelt has been trending since releasing its Beta early this week. Incorporating the social networking sites into the foundation of Google Chrome, the results are pretty impressive, even in this early stage. The Social Medianaires show you what the browser does and how it could affect the futures of marketing and social media.
Features of RockMelt Beta
Just so you know, I’m not a tech guy. So me explaining these features is simply on usability, not on the tech behind it. To simplify, I look at RockMelt as Google Chrome with the additional features mentioned below.
Being touted as a social networking-friendly browser, of course we want to highlight these features first. RockMelt adds bars to the sides of your screen, dubbed Edges, that houses these features. The left Edge contains your Facebook chat, which you can browse by who is online or make a list of favorite friends. The chat is also greatly enhanced – the windows pop out, I can see their recent activity, and any photos or YouTube videos posted to me automatically show up in the chat window.
The right Edge is home to the social networks. Right now it is heavily integrated with Facebook and Twitter giving live updates of the news feeds, notifications, and more. Simply clicking the icons will pop up the associated live feed, allowing you to Like, comment, RT, and so on for each action, all without taking you off the page you are working on. You can customize this bar further with e-mail and any site with an RSS feed to get regular updates and preview the messages before clicking on them.
Besides social features, RockMelt also has new search and sharing features. At any point, I can click a ‘Share’ button next to the URL bar to post the page I am currently on right to FB, Twitter, or even as a message. The separate search bar is also unique. Type in your term and Google results will display the top hits without leaving the current page. You can then click the result to see it displayed instantly, see where the search terms show up, and quickly cycle through the other search results as well, without any clicking back and forth.
Critique of RockMelt Beta
As this is a Beta, you can’t fault RockMelt for any bugs or crashes at the moment. Honestly, I didn’t have any crashes and have been using it heavily all day.
On the positive side, I think this is really a smart tool for the web-savvy, social media-conscious browser. The features are not just for show, they all add value to the RockMelt browser. I can post, Like, comment, and search without losing a page or clicking between twenty open tabs. The chat feature is fantastic, as FB chat is so buggy and I share a lot of links via chat. When this content shows up instantly, we don’t have to open new windows, tabs, or wait for things to load. I love the ease of use and RockMelt answering a lot of the concerns a lot of social media gurus have with their browsing experience.
I think the average user of social media can gain a lot from this service as well, but I do see some problems. When you first run RockMelt, you have to give up all of your Facebook information to them so everything updates in real time. Given Chrome and Facebook’s sketchy past with issues such as hacking and data sharing, I think a lot of people will be reluctant to do this. Also, I think this is almost too addictive. Before I could close FB or Twitter when I had to get serious for a few hours. Now, it is constantly in my face giving me updates, and there is just a little too much going on with all 4 sides of my screen loaded with icons. Also, and a very scary thought, what happens when FB goes down? Does this browser become a bunch of dead space?
Possible marketing consequences of RockMelt
As a marketer in the world of social media, I also see some big opportunities and risks, should this browser start gobbling up market share.
A big risk is a loss of advertising space. Seeing as I never have to go to Facebook.com, there goes all of the sponsored ads on the sidebar. The search feature through Google basically eliminates the AdWords campaigns. Twitter loses the promoted trends and accounts. If RockMelt would take a sizable market share, can you imagine the loss of impressions and ad revenue? For a service based off Chrome and that streamlines Google search results, it could be a Google-killer.
With that comes the opportunity to simply do better social media campaigns. Getting the Like of Follow becomes incredibly important. To keep them following you, that means a greater emphasis on integrated campaigns and enhanced content through the social media experience. Simply put, the Old Spice campaign will become the norm (and shouldn’t it be anyway?).
RockMelt is definitely an exciting experience, and provides a lot of good talking points for social media experts, marketing mavens, and just about anyone involved in the online world. So what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your experiences, so let me know in the comments below. Until tomorrow, Social Trooper is getting off this addicting new browser, and seeing what the developers have in store for the eventual full release of RockMelt.