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Applying Viral Marketing to Your Business
   by Dianna Brodine
       Winter  2009
  
Viral marketing is fast becoming crucial to marketing strategies. But how does it apply to plastics processing? Included here is a rundown of what these social media sites are and how you can use them.

YouTube: Post videos to the web for sharing.
YouTube presents a lot of possibilities for manufacturers looking to expand their web presence. Shoot a video tour of your facility and email the link to potential clients. Show off your industry expertise with a training video, or a video version of a capabilities brochure. Ask satisfied customers to sit in front of the video camera and provide a reference for future customers. YouTube makes it easy to upload videos to the web for easy sharing and even easier searching.

Blog: Write online to share thoughts, ideas, and concepts.
Blogs have been created by everyone from moms wanting to share pictures of their kids to experts in their fields sharing advice, how-to’s, and industry trends. Take advantage of the knowledge accumulated within your facility and share it! A blog can be an effective marketing tool, setting your company up as an industry expert and making your knowledge easily accessible to anyone with a web browser. Blogs are short bursts of information, and can include teasers that drive traffic to your web site or get prospective customers to grab a phone and call to find out more. Create a blog through simple, pre-formatted sites like Blogger.com, Wordpress.com, or Typepad.com. (There are many more – but these are three of the most popular sites.) Then include a link to the blog in every email sent from your company. Add a link to your web site’s home page. Traffic will slowly increase as long as you keep the content fresh – aim to post at least once a week with new product releases, short how-to videos, or information about what is going on in the plant.

LinkedIn: Network with business connections.
LinkedIn is a social network for business contacts. Join the community and start searching for business associates – you may be surprised by how many people have a presence. The value at LinkedIn comes with the groups that you become a part of – professional associations, corporations, college alumni groups, and more. With each group that you join, you’ll have access to discussions, pertinent news stories that have been posted, and a professional networking system for asking questions, finding inventory, or searching for new employees.

Twitter: Share thoughts and links in short 140 character bursts.
Twitter can be silly or Twitter can be a powerful business tool, depending on how you use it… or what your mood is at the moment. Think of it as quick emails to the masses – it’s estimated that up to five million people have Twitter accounts, with up to 5,000-10,000 new users per day, logging in to the site to share whatever is on their mind. Some share inspirational sayings, some use Twitter as a huge chat room, and others send links of recent blog posts or product reviews. Before you write off Twitter as not useful for marketing purposes, keep in mind that corporations like CNN, MSNBC, Rubbermaid, Kmart, and Build-A-Bear have a Twitter presence, and a quick ‘tweet’ from my account on the topic of social marketing and its impact on manufacturing yielded four queries in less than 30 minutes.

Facebook: Network with personal connections.
Facebook is a social network with a more personal twist, encompassing a series of networks that members can ‘join’ to keep in touch with happenings for social causes and business entities. I’m not convinced that Facebook will make an impact in your marketing strategy, but it would be remiss not to mention it. If nothing else, you’ll connect with several old friends because Facebook’s membership is huge, with more than 150 million active users.