bullhorn.jpgWant to know one of the biggest secrets to social marketing? It’s really quite simple…

People share things they find enjoyable, helpful or interesting with people they know. In other words, people pass it on. That’s what social marketing is about – passing it on.

But sometimes we forget. We’re rushed or tired or just ‘messing around’ on the web and we may not think to always share things we find with people that might like or benefit from them.

So why not remind them? And when you remind them, make it easy.

Andy Sernovitz, author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, and one of my favorite marketers, suggests just that. In is book he suggests:

Someone is on your website, looking at something that you are selling – and they feel the urge to tell someone else. Make it easy. That person is about to advertise for you, for free. Or they need to ask someone a questions before they buy, Or they just like what they see. Do whatever it takes to let the word of mouth happen.

I couldn’t agree more. Make it easy for people to share what they find on your site, on your blog and in your products and services sections. Really, everywhere. You never know where people will be on your site that will inspire them to share with a friend. So make it easy.

On page 124 of Andy’s book, he offers the secrets to creating effective tell-a-friend forms:

  • Make it fast.
    Design a form that can be filled out in less than 15 seconds. Get rid of optional fields, passwords, or anything that gets in the way of the referral.
  • Ask for several referrals.
    Be sure to explicitly ask users to forward the message to multiple friends. The more you ask, the more you get. Design the form so it is easy to add lots of names without confusion.
  • Use the sender’s name.
    When you deliver the message, make sure it is from the referrer, not your website. The recipient isn’t expecting mail from you and might delete it. He will open a message from his friend.
  • Include a personal message.
    Let the sender add text to the message. The referral is far more powerful when the talker gets to put it in his own words.
  • Make it forwardable.
    Take a look at the message that recipients get. Is that message a ready-to-go viral email, or is it some cryptic link?
  • Protect privacy.
    And brag about it. Be clear and explicit that you respect the privacy of the senders and recipients using the form and that you won’t use their emails for any other purpose (and stick to what you promise). Usage will skyrocket when you do this.

Just to drive the point home a little more, here’s a short video I found of Andy talking about how tell-a-friend is worth 1.6 billion dollars.

How do you ask people to pass it on? Oh yeah, and by the way, please feel free to share this blog with anyone you’d like.

(note: image from Duncan Davidson on Flickr)

Reader Interactions


  1. Tanner Christensen says

    As always: very insightful stuff Dawud. I agree that sharing interesting, useful, and valuable content is often forgotten. It’s a pity.

  2. communicatrix says

    This is fantastic. As I’m in the throes of my own site overhaul, and as 2008’s theme and corollary are “Help is Everywhere” and “so ask for it, dumbass”, this is a particularly serendipitous post.

    With my own reader base hovering in the three digits for years now, clearly I need to do something to make my words (what I’m “selling”) easier to pass on.

    Where I get a little creeped out is the hard-sell-iness of some of the pass it on methods. So yes, I know I need to ask for help, but how do I do it in a Colleen way?

    (Uh…so we’re clear, folks, this is me, asking for help!)

    Do you have some examples of good forms? Has anyone else come across ways of passing it on that made it not only easy, but delightful?

    I like the idea of making people feel delightful.

  3. Coach Anne says

    Hi, Dawud,

    I’ve heard that TAF forms are dangerous, as they can be used to send spam from your website. How can this be prevented, so that TAF can be used safely?

    Wishing you and all your readers a bountiful and peaceful 2008,


  4. Dawud Miracle says

    Check out Andy’s sites:

    Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That, his blog; Gaspedal, his business site; and his book’s site Word Of Mouth Book.

    I think his approach is easy, simple and benign while still being effective.

    And, by the way, knowing you personally, I agree with you – you need to be much more visible to your target audience. That’s something we can work on together.

    I’d like to stop forgetting it myself…


    In his book, Andy recommends Master Recommend Pro. I’m not yet using it myself, but I will in the next (and coming) redesign of dmiracle.com.

    I’ll also email Andy right now and ask him how much spam he gets on his forms.

  5. Laser Hair Removal says

    The best marketing I feel is word of mouth marketing. It has a lot of impact on psychology of people. A person would listen to a friend more than what a person would listen to a television ad.

  6. Home Recording says

    The 1.6 billion dollar bit about youtube is the one that really grabs your attention as a demonstrable model. I could not resist the temptation to leave a comment to that effect on the original youtube video of the same.

    You bet that this post goes out to a few of my friends!

  7. Affordable SEO - Terry Reeves says

    I have used several “email a friend” scripts in the past with no spam issues. Many of these scripts are free on the Internet. Some are also hosted for a monthly fee or an annual payment.

  8. paulette says

    Indeed marketing is sharing. You cannot say that you have effectively market a product without making it on the top of mind awareness.You need people to know about yoru product.

  9. Dawud Miracle says

    Laser Hair,
    Absolutely, 100% true. Funny thing, it takes less work, time and money as well once you understand it.

    Home Recording,
    Andy will appreciate that. I know. Most of us will never be in that position. But do we need to be? What if we could make a sustainable 25% more busines?

    Looks like you’re a realtor. How do you use WOM marketing to promote your services?

    True. So why not teach your clients how to talk about your services and make it easy for them to share?

  10. RJacobsen says

    This is good advice, for what I assume is a commonly overlooked aspect of marketing. Sernovitz’s comments on how to make more effective ‘tell a friend’ forms, makes a whole lot of sense after reading his suggestions; but I wouldn’t have necessarily have thought of doing things his way, unless I had read his advice… Thanks!

  11. Andy Sernovitz says

    Dawud – Thanks for the excellent post. A great understanding of this really important point.

    Anne – Any web page could theoretically be hacked, but it’s not a problem if you use a properly written form from a reliable source. There are zillions of tell a friend forms out there and we rarely see this kind of problem.

  12. Dawud Miracle says

    I’ve had the same thing, truthfully. I think what we’re seeing is an example of negative WOM marketing.

    You’re welcome. I know about this and consult with my clients about these things all the time. Yet, do you see any tell-a-friend forms on my site? No. It seems I’m too busy to take my own advice. Sort of a catch-22


    Thanks Andy. I constantly refer back to your book and have been considering making it a requisite for all my consulting clients. It’s just that good. Thanks so much for writing it…and for spreading the word.

  13. Free Downloadable Music says

    I Highly recommend stumbleupon. It totally changed my web experience from just searching around google to high quality pages with content I am interested in.


  14. Dawud Miracle says

    Free Downloadable,
    I’d agree. As a matter of fact, I’m considering doing a series on StumbleUpon. We’ll see. Still a couple of weeks away.

    Yet word-of-mouth marketing is a bit different – and quite a bit more direct.

  15. Web Design says

    I always outsource it, there’s some websites that offer free “add to a friend” button, and that takes care of the business for me, no worrying about spam etc.

  16. Kaysville UT says

    Great movie at the bottom – as always, your blog is a useful and informative source. I’ve even applied some of your lessons to my real estate dealings here in Utah.

  17. Dian Ryan says

    Google Maps is a great tool to use to help promote your small business, and its one tool that you don’t want to ignore. Google Maps is a little different when thinking in terms of the social media world. Unlike Facebook & Twitter you have to build your profiles and add your business name, with Google Maps your business is already listed, so you will want to claim it. Once you have claimed your profile you will want to make sure that all business information is correct.


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