Web Marketing
Build Your Word of Mouth and Viral Marketing

Build Your Word of Mouth and Viral Marketing

Tell a Friend

A recommendation from family and friends is the most powerful form of marketing, online or offline. This is why adding a “Tell a friend!”, “Invite a friend”, or “Email this” link to your site or pages is a great (and free) way to increase your marketing reach. It doesn’t have to be complicated—a simple link to launch an e-mail program or a simple form to send the information on to another person is really all it takes. For the spam-weary, you may also want to include a note saying you are merely forwarding the email, not saving the other person’s e-mail address in any way.

What doesn’t work? The forms that were popular a few years ago where you put in a list of e-mail contacts and the site would spam all your friends by adding them to the mailing list. This is not a good way to make friends—for the person adding the e-mail addresses or for the site adding people to the mailing list without permission.

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is when you give your readers the ability to tag, describe, and organize links to your content in their own online bookmarking accounts. It acts like a personal recommendation in that it says, “This content was good enough for me to want to share it and/or save it for later.” Social bookmarking can come in the form of tagged link lists or in the form of third party ratings on your content.

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You can learn more about social bookmarking by trying out some of these more popular social bookmarking sites:

The ability to add social bookmarking to your site is really easy thanks to the widgets available at AddThis. By installing AddThis, your users can add your content to their bookmark list with a single click.

Social Networking

At any site offering social participation, you can create a marketing campaign. The procedure is about the same as it is for forums: create an account, login and/or profile, and then start participating! Remember to follow the same etiquette rules we outlined in the forums discussion. If you haven’t tried social networking before, here are a few sites to get you started:


Tags are simply labels to help people find and sort your information. If you can make it, you can tag it: text, blogs, bookmarks, audio, video, photos and even code snippets can all be tagged. The tags are used by sites like YouTube, Flickr, Technorati, and del.icio.us.

Leverage Other Services

Using services like YouTube and Flickr isn’t only to save on bandwidth—it’s also a great way to put your content and ideas into new places. The key is to follow a set of simple rules to achieve maximum impact:

  • Make a dedicated account
    Consider this like having a business bank account: you’ll want to make an account on each site that is separate from your personal account in every way.
  • Use labels and descriptions
    The more completely you can describe a video or picture, the more likely searchers are to find it. Add text, keywords, tags, titles and anything else that you are offered on the site.
  • Organize your information properly
    Group your media together in logical ways, just like you would organize your own websites into a hierarchy. Consider having a professional landing page which gives information about your company as well as displays the thumbnails in your collection.
  • Participate
    YouTube and Flickr are social networking sites themselves. To aid your marketing efforts, you can make comments on other people’s photos or videos, add your media to group pools and other activities, or encourage other people to embed your content on to their own site. (Remember to put your URL into any photo or video that might be hosted remotely!)

Use Novelty

Using new methods of reaching people instead of just text is a great way to create novelty and get people talking. Some examples of this are:

  • Use graphics
    One of the greatest uses of graphics that come to mind is Kathy Sierra’s charts and pictures on her blog, Creating Passionate Users. Instead of just putting text on the screen, she used some really funny and creative imagery to get her point across and make the site lively. These graphics also get linked to often because of their originality.
  • Try another medium
    Are your pages too boring? Try adding video, audio/podcasting, or sketchcasting to your pages. If you make this content available to embed on other web pages, you can also have your readers market it for you! As an added bonus, you can reach a wider audience now that you are attracting both visual and auditory learners.
Nikole Gipps

Nikole Gipps is the face behind the superhero character at That PHP Girl, a web development company that specializes in Wordpress, Premium Wordpress Themes, and PHP Programming. She posts non-tech small business tips over at her blog, Small Business Essentials. [...]

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