Elliott Kosmicki on how to easily allow your web pages and products to be shared

So, you have a website – and since you’re reading the eTail blog I think we can assume you sell a product of some sort. Maybe you need to boost sales in a slow market or maybe you just want to find an easy marketing method that is dirt cheap. You might be aware that your customers and visitors are on Twitter and Facebook and even other social sites, but you’re just avoiding the fact so you don’t have to spend the time and money on integrating a sharing solution into your site.

Let me ease your worries.  It doesn’t have to be that difficult – or expensive.

Let’s take a look at a few free, cut-n-paste solutions to allow your visitors to share your products and other web pages with their friends on social networks.

1.) ShareThis  is one of the best looking and flexible solutions out there.  After selecting what button type you like from the many options, simply have your web developer drop the snippet of provided javascript into your site’s template.  For instance, maybe you’ll want it to go right next to every product image?  When the user clicks, a menu opens up with all the sites someone can share the page on – this is also customizable by clicking on the “Services” tab when you’re customizing your button.

Not only will your visitors and customers be able to share any page you have the code on, you’ll be able to see statistics about what people are sharing by creating an account and logging into your ShareThis dashboard.

2.) AddToAny is a similar service to ShareThis but with much simpler buttons – it’s really all about preference.  Add the provided javascript to your page(s) and your user can click the button to share that page or product through dozens of different social outlets.

3.) Facebook Like is for Facebook alone.  To make it work at it’s ideal level, it will take a bit of programming knowledge, but anyone can get the basic version going right away.  You’ll notice that not only does the code add the Like button to your page, it will also tell people (if they’re logged into Facebook) how many of their friends have already “liked” this.

When someone clicks the Like button, it will post what page they just liked to their Facebook stream for all their friends to see.  This is where customization can play a big factor.  You’ll notice some meta tags you can include in your site’s header to provide Facebook with more information about the page.  You can provide the page title (if you want it to be different than your standard title tag), your site’s name, as well as an image to represent what the page is about.  If you set these (especially the image), you’re much more likely to get more traffic from people sharing, as their posts will be much more detailed.

4.) Tweetmeme is only for Twitter.  It simply displays how many times a particular page has been tweeted, and allows Twitter users to easily “ReTweet” the page.  Again, there are some customimzations you can make if you play with the code a bit, but the default installation will still give your users the ability to easily tweet about your pages and products.

If you were to pick one service to do today, I’d start with ShareThis simply because it will give your users basic sharing ability throughout many networks.  Next, I would take a look at the Facebook Like button because of the interaction in can create between Facebook friends.  Remember, people trust people they know well – and people on Facebook typically know each other better than people and their friends on Twitter.

This is just the beginning.  There’s a whole world of social media marketing out there, and you should learn as much as you can about it.  However, if you start small by using one of the tools above to allow your users to share your products – it not only shows them that you’re up on what’s current but gives them a reason to keep coming back to see more… and share more!

Elliott Kosmicki is the founder of GoodPlum.com, a home business blog which discusses productivity, web design, social media and marketing. He is also the User Experience Manager at Musicnotes.com with a strong focus on front-end web development, user behavior, user interface design and how those relate to increasing conversion rates. Elliot also contributes to Mashable.com on the topic of  productivity.