How do you monetize social media?

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That question seems to be all the rage these days, doesn’t it? How do you use these newly adopted social tools to assist in meeting your financial goals? Well, one of the (many) principles I try to live by goes like this – “the answer only matters if you are asking the right question.” I’m not sure where I was when I heard this for the first time, but it is certainly a thought-provoking philosophical statement indeed.

So, what kind of questions are you asking? What are your department’s bigger goals? Do you have a comprehensive marketing plan and strategic vision that actually align with one another? Social media is a tool – a means to an end that exists to accomplish an objective. The best way to figure out how to monetize social media is to come up with some arrangement of being able to measure your results, then monitor the activity you’re seeing and test, test, test! If you only put out the same promotions on the same websites or networks, how will you really know if what you’re doing is what people want? Regardless of what your results might be, the only way to know if it works or not is to try something different and then compare the two.

Here are a few rules for and examples of social media monetization:

– Rule of thumb: Track everything and collect data in every way you can. Even if you are not yet set up to analyze or do anything with your data, there will be a point in time where you will want and need some information to work from. Collect now, analyze later.

– Do A/B testing. I typically read about this in regards to email marketing, though it applies in several areas of social media. When sending emails, cut your list in half and send two different looking/feeling/edited emails with the same information with different links that point to the same place or sales page; then go see which list of people clicked more. If you really want to get technical, on your next email, switch the two lists such that each list is getting both types of emails. That would give you more confidence in terms of maximizing reliability and validity. After all, why would you do all of this work if  you can’t trust your results!?!

– Post a uniquely coded link on Facebook to track clicks and buys, then put a differently coded link on Twitter to track clicks and buys on that account. Which network gave you better results? Also pay attention to what time you are sending out your posts – each network may be different in terms of when people or fans are engaged, so do some testing there too. On Facebook, at what times do your posts get the most clicks/likes/comments? On Twitter, same thing – when are your fans actually engaged and looking at your tweets as they go flying by?

– Sponsored posts and tweets are another way to easily monetize your social media. Integrate this into your corporate marketing portfolio and rate card as something that might be attractive to businesses who want to advertise to your fans. X number of social media posts @ $Y each or per year, etc. = Revenue!

This list could go on and on, but start with figuring out why you’re on social media and pursue those avenues as a result of where you are headed. I’ve said this before, but your team website should be your home base with all links pointing there. That is the one space on the internet where your team has full control of how they present themselves. With so many social networks available, all of which are changing their rules on a regular basis, and with new ones coming online every day, your website should feel like the one genuine place your fans will always be comfortable.

Define your mission and vision. Develop a plan. Collect as much information as you can. Point all links to your own website. Simple right?

Go Forth!

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4 comments

  1. Thanks for the comment John and thanks for sharing the link. I will check that out later today.

  2. Good Article Bill. Yes this are few ways of monetizing the network. Social network monetization is certainly still in the early stages, but there is one solution you did not mention that is quickly gaining traction: virtual gift monetization. Virtual Gifts are something that has drawn attention in terms of more users getting engaged with the network. Here’s one of the provider http://www.feeligo.com that deals with all types of networks and gives them advantages of sending virtual gifts. It is absolutely free I have been using their platform for a while and it has shown drastic changes on my network. Feeligo uses a system that is non-intrusive and actually enjoyable for users, rewarding activity and building reputation. Installation only takes a few minutes, and social networks can earn revenues based on usage of the Feeligo system.

  3. Thanks for the comment Jake. Social media marketing is still in its infancy, so we’ll see what’s next!

  4. Great article Bill!

    Social Media is only going to get bigger so being able to find ways to generate revenue is going to be crucial. I particularly agree any time of data you can gather should be tracked.

    After all how can we market properly if we don’t know who we are marketing too!

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