May 26, 2010

Like-Minded Shopping


Hostway Team

By Buffy Cranford
If you frequent the Web site, you likely noticed a few catchy plug-ins integrated on nearly every Web page. With a simple mouse click, you can pick and choose your favorite jeans and interface your top picks with Facebook. When your friends shop Levis, they are greeted with your favorite styles, along with a list of jeans other Facebook friends liked. Plus, your Facebook friends with upcoming birthdays are listed in a sidebar so you can purchase their favorite pair of jeans as a gift.

Marketing with Plug-Ins

That functionality isn't just available to the big guys. Small businesses with a tight budget can use interactive plug-ins to launch a new advertising campaign in just a few hours. Business leaders know a savvy marketing plan can produce revenue, but word of mouth and returning customers keep the doors, or Web site, open for business. With millions of people using the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, free advertising occurs daily. For example, one person may Tweet “I’m at Best Buy searching for the new Glee CD,” or “The staff at Sephora rocks, I love this new foundation!”
In response, companies such as Sephora, Levis and Fandango have embraced new marketing tools such as Facebook’s Open Graph and added plug-ins throughout their Web sites to promote special offers and create an online fan base. Sephora has added links for joining the Sephora Facebook page, following Sephora on Twitter, and the Like Button. Clicking the Like Button posts the following link to the Sephora Web site on your Facebook wall:
“Sarah likes Sephora: Beauty, Skin Care, Makeup, Hair, & Fragrance on Sephora.”

Branding Your Business Online

With the creation of a Facebook page, and a few simple Web site tweaks, your business could use social networking for advertising and collecting merchandise preference. First, create a Facebook page for your business, then visit the Developers section on Facebook. From the Developers section, select the documentation for implementing the Open Graph Protocol on your Web site. Facebook provides simple instructions, including HTML samples for adding the Like Button and Administrating the plug-ins on your Web page. To add the Like Button, Facebook recommends JavaScript SDK and provides the specific XFBML tag you will need.
As Facebook users select the Like Button, the Administrative tools of Open Graph serve as a marketing venue because you can send special offers to everyone who liked a product or became a fan of your company Facebook profile. You can also create Recommendations for users based on items they liked. If a user liked the movies “Star Wars V” and “Terminator," the plug-in will display those movies under Recommendations when their friends visit your site.
By embracing the plug-in technology, you can offer your technical-savvy customers a fun, interactive shopping experience, and it’s easier on your budget than traditional marketing. With a little research and some basic HTML, you can begin marketing your product and find a new client base.
About the Author
Buffy Cranford has over 20 years of experience in writing and publishing. Her writing background includes newspaper journalism and reviewing and researching computer software and hardware for computer magazines.

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