In the past few years, the face of marketing and, in particular, internet marketing has had some “silicon” surgery. We have seen the emergence of both Twitter and Facebook. As a web and mobile applications developer, I have the ability to offer a unique perspective on these changes because, on a daily basis, I write software that talks to Facebook and Twitter. In this article, I am going to talk about three cutting-edge social marketing tools that few people know about: Tweet Buttons, Facebook Like buttons, and the Facebook Markup Language.

First of all, what is Twitter? Twitter is a site in which celebrities, businesses, and other users can operate their own news feeds. For instance, Brittney Spears currently has over 6 million people signed up to short, live updates about her life (http://twitter.com/BRITNEYSPEARS). So, how does a company “market” on Twitter? Traditional forms, such as “banner ads” are not available because most users do not login to Twitter through their computer. So how does a business advertise? These days, the most common way is to have their own Twitter feed. For instance, NBC posts updates every 30 minutes concerning new shows (http://twitter.com/nbc). These updates are picked up by search engines, such as Google. Also, some users will follow along. Another, less known form of Twitter advertising is through “Tweet” buttons that can be displayed on a website. In this case, users can browse to your website and click a “Tweet” button. It then lets them post your website directly to their Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/goodies/tweetbutton). It is easy to integrate. Many joke websites, such as fmylife.com and failblog.org use this as a huge form of marketing because people feel the need to share the jokes with their friends. In terms of marketing ROI, the stats are incredible! It takes less than an hour to integrate and, provided users like your content, you could drive thousands of page-views to your product or website!

Like Twitter’s Tweet buttons, Facebook offers a Facebook Like feature (http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like). This feature allows your users to post your website to their public profile. Then, their friends and family can see it, click on it, and post comments about it. For instance, one company I am working for, Sweetbees.com, is using it to drive traffic to their website. So far, it has worked great! Like the Twitter “Tweet” button, it takes less than an hour to install (sometimes more if you are new to the platform) and drives new customers to you automatically. Obviously, if you do not have a product that people want, it will not be useful, but it does have the potential to be extremely effective.

Though most people do their searches on Google or Bing, it is becoming increasingly trendy to use Facebook as a search engine, just like Google.  For instance, you type in “target” on Facebook and it takes you to Targets homepage. How? Facebook has invented a few technologies that allow you to specify what your website is, what contents it contains, and its “profile image.” Affectively, you turn your website into a Facebook page! Then, as soon as somebody posts it to their wall or hits “like” on it, it becomes a part of Facebook’s database. The more of your friends who like it or interact with it, the more likely it is that it will show up when somebody searches for it. It uses “friends” to decide what content is relevant (http://www.copyblogger.com/facebook-killing-seo/). So, how do you get your website setup for this? Its easy! You use “OpenGraph” protocol to say what your site is about. It is like HTML “meta tags”, but is more detailed and requires that you have a “logo image” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook_Platform).

In conclusion, Twitter and Facebook are changing the way that we view the internet. They are opening up new opportunities for businesses to market themselves for next to nothing. I expect that, over the next few years, we will see Social Networks begin to become Search Engines. The line between email, search engines, and social networking may grow thing, and if you watch it closely, it will be a gold mine for internet marketers!

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