NEW YORK Fallon is readying the release of a tool that will allow users of social media sites to gather disparate network streams into a desktop widget.
Called Skimmer, the free application is designed as a time-saver for those constantly switching among services. Instead, users download the application and register their accounts. The widget then shows the streams of friend updates in a single interface. It will aggregate posts from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blogger and YouTube.
The Adobe AIR app is part of an effort by Fallon to display its tech chops and build buzz for the shop as producer of innovative interactive works, said Rob Buchner, chief marketing officer at the Minneapolis agency.
"There's a tremendous amount of pressure on the industry, and [pressure] we put on ourselves, to demonstrate to clients we understand social media and life-streaming technologies and can advise them on how they can live in this world," he said. "There are a lot of PowerPoint presentations. We felt it was better to lead by example. We're in this experimental phase as an industry. We wanted to have a stake in it."
The tool will be available for download at Fallon.com/Skimmer. It is also serving as the backbone of a recast Fallon Web site. All 175 employees will have pages detailing their social media activity collected through Skimmer.
With the growth of social media, services like FriendFeed have launched to help users aggregate their activities, although none have taken off. Twitter itself has spawned several desktop applications, like TweetDeck, designed to ease the crush of information flowing through the service. None of these apps offer the combination of functionality and aesthetic appeal of Skimmer, according to Chris Wiggins, creative director at Fallon.
"Our product is a better experience," he said, noting Skimmer's ability to easily display photos and video. "A lot of what differentiates it is the experience."
Skimmer is one of a handful of social media side projects being undertaken by agencies.
Big Spaceship last week launched Qapture, a service that aggregates the links shared over Twitter by popular users in the design, strategy, marketing and advertising worlds. Mullen has built sites to gather Twitter chatter around the Super Bowl and Academy Awards.
As marketing and product development blur, there will be a growing need for agencies to develop applications on their own, said Buchner, even at a time of spending cuts due to the economic downturn.
"Our peer group is not making investments in developing software like this," he said.