Let's face the facts. The world's largest social platform started in 2004 as a fun experiment to gauge the attractiveness of Harvard students. Now, businesses around the world use Facebook and other social networking sites to attract more customers. With social media's exponentially increasing popularity each year, many companies are setting up shop online. After all, it is a fact that wherever people go, entrepreneurs follow. In this article, we explore ways to monetize your social media influence - from using it for your business to making it another business altogether.
Expert Insight:The social media population at the moment is already at 3.6 billion. With a 49% social network penetration rate, it is expected to grow by another billion within the next five years. The sheer density of profiles alone shows immense potential for reaching clients. But with some creative strategizing, social media could be a viable channel for customer conversion.
Beyond The Brags: Money in Popularity
Social media networking started as a way to connect with other users worldwide. Its unprecedented connectivity enables people to grow their network and maintain relationships across vast distances. And as the social network intertwines with personal and cultural values, those with larger audiences find themselves holding a useful resource. One that proves even more valuable than the validation from the likes or the bragging rights.
Expert Insight:Among the marketing world, 89% agree that influencer marketing works equally well, if not better than traditional practices. Dissecting the statistics further, we find that 79% of brands use influencer marketing on Instagram, 46% on Facebook, 36% on YouTube, 24% on Twitter, and 12% on LinkedIn. Having an existing account with a significant following would definitely help in growing networks. However, starting from scratch is not an impossible task, experts say.
Online influencers first gained a foothold in social media platforms. Beginning as creators of original and often specialized content, they are now believed to be among the most profitable marketing channels.
The Business: Leveraging Influence
Social networking influence is convertible to viable revenues when done right. On the one hand, it can be used to enhance your existing business. And on the other, it can turn into a lucrative enterprise if you don't have one already. All it boils down to are the values that would guide the decision-making processes and the know-how on conducting it properly.
How can I bring benefits to my business?
The steady rise in the social media population can be correlated with the very human tendency to gravitate towards communication. Therefore, it follows that business success through social media banks on effective communication, among other things. Knowing the natural flow of online conversations, strategically disrupting it appropriately, or initiating a relevant discussion can be considered the trifecta of mastering the discourse. But how exactly would it work?
1. Know who you are talking to. Understandably,
businesses would want to go direct to the point and begin the sales
talks. However, because social media is essentially just the online
form of day-to-day interactions, it would make some people cringe
if a business immediately bombards them with unsolicited offers.
Although useful for some demographics, the best practice is always
to have an approach between highly specific content and
significantly generalized messages. To identify and attract viable
customers, you can:
- Create a defined profile of your ideal audience based on research. This should provide information regarding your clients' interests and your business' position in their daily lives.
- Develop content for your identified customer profile. Use the same language that they use and hook your messages on their interests. Imagine opening a conversation first before entering the sales process.
2. Be engaging: Just like in face-to-face
conversations, speaking too much about yourself would eventually
bore the receiver. A successful social media presence hosts a wide
range of meaningful discussions. People like to answer questions,
and they also like talking a bit about their lives. Hence, you can
start by starting a relevant poll or asking a thought-provoking
question. You can also provide your own answers and the reasons why
you think a certain way. The critical factor is to always, always
ask, "What do you think?"
3. On-site sales. Some platforms already offer on-site sales. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter allow businesses to post products online with a purchase button attached. This makes the buying experience smoother, faster, and more secure for the customer. Furthermore, it locks in the sale in a fraction of the time it would take in a separate e-commerce site. Placing sales messages in strategic positions in the ongoing conversation generates substantial income.
4. Rise of the bots. Handling your social media
account, in the long run, would show different polarities of your
customers. While it is extremely easy to spot the vocal through
their public activities, a significant portion of them is silently
lurking on the sidelines. Thus, using a private channel that does
not require a whole new company department would enable them to
engage with your brand. Chatbots are gaining traction with online
businesses each day. With its customizable response, automated
nature, and ability to identify sales opportunities, it proves
indispensable for emerging enterprises.
5. Talk about yourself, too. To keep the
delicate balance of the conversation, you would also need to write
about your own products and the value you add every now and again.
However, these posts should always include your customers'
experiences and how your recent development relates to their needs.
This is a prime location for generating leads.
6. Be present in the community. If you establish a working relationship with your online audience through the mentioned steps above, chances are your audience will start asking you direct questions. While daunting at first, this is yet another opportunity to cultivate their interest in your brand. Ultimately, the fact that they initiate talks denotes a deeper level of brand-client relationship. The key is to stick to the brand personality and be responsive to the community.
Making It Your Business: Other Avenues for Your Influence
After some time of mastering the basics, you would notice significant improvements in your business. More leads are generated, meaningful engagements open new avenues for your company, and your reputation is now leagues above your competitors. Being a business-minded person, you might be thinking this is a solid business opportunity. And you are absolutely correct.
Expert Insight:Influencer marketing industry isprojected to grow by USD 8 Billion by 2022, making its total worth a staggering USD 15 Billion in a span of just a few years. Thus, investing in social networks as early as now means you will be several steps ahead in the market by the time it becomes saturated.
But how do I make a business out of my social media success?
Transforming your social media influence into a standalone business employs all of the mentioned steps earlier. However, these steps only apply if you wish to manage social media for other clients. There are equally profitable paths to pursue your online influence:
7. Create and educate. One way of growing your reach with meaningful connections is to provide content that gives relevant information. With enough following, influencers can independently organize paid e-learning projects to gain some profit. Because the webinars and e-learning industry is expected to cost USD 325 Billion by 2025, joining in early is a wise idea.
8. Exclusive merch. Most of the successful social media influencers produced a considerable cult following. People who personally identify with the brand are naturally more invested in it. To turn this into a profitable asset, you can design exclusive merchandise that accurately speaks your brand.
9. Be an affiliate. Official partnerships with brands related to your niche are also viable options for income generation. And this could be a stable monthly arrangement, too. However, it is important to note that the company you will be associated with would both affect and be affected by your online actions. Constant and honest communication between affiliates precludes truthful conversations between the influencers and consumers.
10. It makes sense to license. Your decision to make a business out of your social media influence could be the next leap in your entrepreneurial career. However, similar to every other professional service, legal regulations are placed to keep balance and order. To avoid costly legal troubles in the future, it is crucial to consult with your jurisdiction about their requirements.
We commonly attribute densely populated cities with business opportunities. And social media is very much the same. With its rapidly growing population each day, it is, in essence, an online metropolis with viable possibilities waiting in every corner. The only thing left to do is to leverage your social media presence to your advantage.
A great deal of this effort depends on effective communication with the audience. However, through time, your social network in itself could be a standalone business. With many new markets emerging by the minute, imagination truly is the limit.
But starting a business, even the online ones, still follows strict government regulations. More than that, there are intricacies to get through before launching your venture. Let us help guide you through your business vision with valuable expert opinions.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.