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Viral Marketing for Products on your Website Using “Like” and “Tweet” Buttons

Viral marketing has been shown to grow internet based businesses exponentially without assistance from other forms of advertising.  However, it is unclear how to use viral marketing strategies with the sale of products online.  This articles discusses the use of Facebook "Like" and Twitter "Tweet" buttons to spread products virally.

           Viral Marketing is essential for small businesses in that it allows website content and products to spread virally across the internet, reaching new potential customers with little or no advertising costs.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of viral marketing it is basically word of mouth on the internet.   Someone finds content they like on the web and they then share it with their contacts via social networks and email.  Others in their networks do the same, thus spreading content and products virally.    

Viral Marketing schemes have been responsible for the growth of many internet based businesses, some of which did not engage in any other form of marketing.  A great example of viral marketing growing an internet business is Hotmail.  Hotmail engaged in no marketing strategies other than placing a line of text introducing their free web email service at the bottom of every email that was sent by their users.  As a Hotmail client sends emails to anyone in their address book, the word about Hotmail spread virally and new users create their own email accounts.  Thus, viral marketing increased the number of users exponentially for Hotmail, and can increase the awareness about your business faster than any other form of marketing.  

While it is well documented that web-based businesses can be spread easily using viral marketing, it is not so easy to see how someone who sells a tangible product can employ viral marketing strategies.  The answer lies in the use of the Facebook “Like”, and Twitter “Tweet” buttons that are popping up all over the web.  These buttons afford any one that finds a product interesting the opportunity to share that product with those in their social networks in one step.  If these buttons are strategically placed, and linked to pages that contain individual products, they give a business the chance to take advantage of viral marketing.    

In general, social networkers are likely to follow or be friends with others that are interested in the same web content and, therefore, they will often find the same products useful. This common interest is at the heart of the viral marketing strategy.  New potential customers are introduced to products and content by people they already have a relationship with, as they are involved in the same social networks.  Whether it is a friend or family member they are connected to via Facebook, or an expert they follow on Twitter, it is someone who they trust.  A referral to a business or a recommendation of a product always carries much more credibility than other standard forms of advertising.  If a product comes highly recommended by someone who is trustworthy, internet users are much more likely to devote their time and energy towards researching a product.  If they too find it interesting or useful they will share it as well, and the viral marketing plan starts working.

   The bottom line is that in order for viral marketing of your content to take place the sharing of your content needs to be simple and quick.  Most internet users will not take the time to copy a link to a webpage, paste it into an email and send it to their contacts.  However, they will share your content if they can do it without leaving your siteArticle Submission, which “Like” and “Tweet” buttons allow them to do.  Careful consideration during site development will allow you to utilize these social sharing tools to your advantage and reach more customers than you ever thought possible.


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Scott Edson is the owner of HB Consulting.  HB Consulting is a Web Design, Email and Social Media Marketing company located in suburban Chicago.  HB focuses on small and emerging companies to develop a web presence that will attract, engage, and retain customers and clients.

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