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One of the most powerful ways to build momentum in terms of signups and users within your product is to leverage social, and viral techniques and bake them firmly into your product.
This isn’t just about adding a simple ‘tweet this’ or ‘share this’ button to certain pages within your site; its about knowing what features you can provide that require some level of sharing of content as part of the overall experience – and indeed enhancing that experience or unlocking certain features.
Probably the best way to demonstrate this concept is through examples of companies that know how to integrate the best offerings of social networks directly into their product, and grow traffic as a result.
Building in Viral at Pre Signup.
LaunchRock works on the very simple basis of a prebuilt landing page that collects pre launch signup email addresses, allowing a business or service to EXTREMELY quickly test the waters as to whether there is demand for a service. The sharing process is built into the product directly, so once you signup, the user gets a personalized link to the product teaser. The more people register through this link, the sooner the user gets access to the website.
Asking random people to evangelize a stealth, or partially unknown, service “can easily seem spammy,” says Eugene Woo, whose startup, Vizualize.me, creates personal résumés full of infographics. So he tapped LaunchRock’s platform to turn the promotion process into a competition: The more sign-ups people brought in (via a custom URL), the earlier they got beta invites. “My TweetDeck went nuts,” Woo recalls. “We signed up 15,000 people in one day.”
In a similar vein at prelaunch ‘Daubble.in‘ used the custom URL that users received as a piece of bait. If you wanted a popular custom URL address on their platform e.g. http://daubble.in/paul – ( a common user name ) then you had to compete for it. The more times you shared a particular URL, the more likely you would be to awarded primary access to it ahead of others. Making people compete for something via sharing is a smart way to build pre-launch momentum and a very easy way to turn one simple landing page into a viral marketing campaign quickly.
Offering users virtual credit.
Smart retailers have been offering discount for product pages which are shared socially. In fact CrowdWish have created a product designed to make this process much easier, and developed various e-commerce platform plugins to perform exactly that.
If your product doesn’t lend itself to discount codes, then what other incentives can you provide in exchange for sharing?
You may be able to reward the top social activity across your platform with an end of month financial reward, or if that isn’t feasible – a virtual league table of sorts that helps to create a competitive spirit within your community.
‘user1245′ has shared their page on Facebook – 20 points
‘user1245’ has shared their profile on Twitter – 10 points
‘user1245’ has updated their profile description – 100 points
‘user1245’ has invited ‘user1246’ – 1000 points
You can begin to see how rewarding users with virtual credit has its merits. In essence you are creating a positive reinforcement of the things that you WANT users to do to help the overall growth of the site. The third example whilst not relevant in the context of social media, still provides you with additional content, improved SEO, and in turn more traffic – so understanding what people are doing and aren’t doing inside your product is imperative.
The example of one user being able to invite another – and potentially providing either a virtual or real currency kickback for doing so is also a powerful way to grow signups.
Stackoverflow, as I’ve mentioned before are a great example of a company that have successfully built game mechanics such as this into their product, and the badges both brings people back to the site, and offer a way to identify thought-leaders and great performers (from a useful / accurate content perspective) within their site.
Leveraging OpenGraph and Social Relationships
Whilst Facebook have stated that they are moving away from frictionless sharing, there are still plenty of opt-in applications which are interesting uses of the OpenGraph product. Fab.com is particularly social savvy, with a full fat OpenGraph implementation within their site.
Note the ‘Action Link’ which allows users to Favourite the product on Fab – one of their key interactions both on and off the website – which in many cases is a precursor to a sale.
According to this developer case study published on Facebook’s own blog – since launching with Open Graph in January, referral traffic from Facebook has doubled and membership has grown from 1.8 million to more than 3.2 million users, thats a pretty impressive figure that can at least in part be attributed to a good social integration.
Leveraging Blogger interaction
How do you manage to get bloggers to write about you? This is a difficult task for any website, particularly if your content isn’t that compelling. However, a great example of blogger interaction marketing at work is evident at ‘UrbanSpoon‘
‘Spoonback‘ (in homage to pingback) offers a way for a food blogger to get increased exposure on the UrbanSpoon site, by embedding a review badge within their HTML. This in turn creates an entry on UrbanSpoon. See under ‘Blogger Reviews‘. It also has the added benefit of being a rich source of quality content that is really useful to visitors, albeit available via a third party website.
Overall, it pays to try and think deeper at every stage of the product journey as to whether there is an untapped opportunity to get visitors to market your product and services for you as they interact with it. Whether that is through more traditional means such as blogs and third party websites, or by using the social graph is entirely up to you.