Tell-a-Friend coming as app on iPhone, BlackBerry, Android

Online word-of-mouth marketing widget Tell-a-Friend is likely to be offered as an application for the iPhone, BlackBerry and phones running the Android operating system, according to an executive of SocialTwist, the company that offers the widgets.

The Tell-a-Friend widget lets users share content from a Website directly with their friends through a variety of methods including e-mail, instant message social networks or their blogs.

SocialTwist hopes mobile phone users will adopt the widget as the basic communications front-end to send e-mail and instant messages and to post content on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, Vijay Pullur, founder and CEO of SocialTwist, said on Tuesday.

SocialTwist was recently spun off as a separate company from Pramati Technologies, an Indian software company in Hyderabad, India.

SocialTwist expects to earn revenue from its mobile application in a variety of ways, including targeted advertising, Pullur said. It also expects the application to be useful for marketing programs from vendors. For example, it could be used for contests that call on users to share interesting photographs or other content from their mobile phones, Pullur said.

The application is expected to be available for the various mobile phone platforms by May next year, Pullur said.

SocialTwist currently has about 70,000 Web sites using the widget, of which about 10 percent are paid. The company started offering Tell-a-Friend in 2008 as a free hosted service to users, who have to download and add JavaScript code to their Website or blog to get started.

The information provided to users under the free program includes the number of referrals made through the widget and the channel users used to communicate with their friends. The company has the option to run advertisements on the widgets under the free program, but hasn’t started doing so yet, Pullur said.

SocialTwist started making money on the program last year by offering special schemes to small businesses and big brand companies, that include information on referrals, analytics, and better control over the brand and content that appears on the widget. The widget can be integrated by advertisers in their advertisements both on their own and third party sites by including the JavaScript code.

SocialTwist also introduced the option of a rewards program. Vendors can, for example, reward customers with discount coupons for making a certain number of referrals through the widget.

A launch on Wednesday in India will also offer local marketers the option of paying for clicks by users receiving the referral, rather than paying for the number of referrals. In the U.S., the company charges by referrals and the duration of the campaign, though about 30 percent of people who received the referrals actually click through, Pullur said. The new pricing model is expected to break the resistance of Indian marketers to having to pay without seeing definite results, he added.

Indian users will be charged Indian rupees 20,000 (US$428) for 2,000 clicks by users, regardless of the duration of the campaign, Pullur said.

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