Now that you’ve entered the world of online marketing, you’re probably looking for ways to increase your productivity – ways to make money without doing a ton of work. Building websites, blogs, and products can be very profitable but only if you know how to find a targeted audience. That’s where social networking comes into play.
Exploring Social Networks
You have two choices when it comes to social networking. You can create your own network and monetize it by charging a membership fee or, like most others, simply charging for advertising and application use. It’s not as simple as it sounds, and can cost millions to develop a worthwhile site. Besides, how can you compete with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and today’s hot related sites?
If you’re an average marketer, like myself, you’ll look for ways to make money through the use of the social networking sites that already exist. You’ll need to start by building a strong following of friends – people who are interested in your niche and who trust what you have to say. While building a strong list of followers is something we’re better off leaving for an entirely different article, it is important to recognize that there are dozens of things you can do to monetize your social networking experiences.
The obvious path would be to share links to your own websites and products. This may work, but only if you don’t inundate your readers with sales pitches all the time. You need to focus more on creating high-quality content they can benefit from regardless of whether or not they’ve made a purchase. This doesn’t mean simply asking your friends to read your works, either. You shouldn’t be afraid to write a post on Facebook asking your 100,000 friends to DIGG your latest blog post. How else do you think social media sites gain traffic?
That said, there are other monetization methods you should keep in mind as well. There are dozens of incredible referral programs and revenue sharing sites that will gladly give you a few pennies here and there if you send traffic their way. ApSense and Yuwie are just a couple to consider – offering referral incentives if you get your friends to sign up for their sites. This is great if you have a strong following of people who are willing to go where you go because you say so. Cha-ching!
Rounding Out Your Marketing Plan
Social networking is, of course, an integral part of any marketing or SEO campaign. Gone are the days where you can throw up a website and – bam! – have an online presence. If your idea of making money online simply involves the promotion of your website, here are a few simpler things to keep in mind.
Make sure you spend time networking with others – not necessarily prospecting. Networking opens the doors of opportunity as you meet people who may introduce you to others interested in what you have to offer. Use social networking sites to promote your brand and allow others to get to know you. Prospecting can always come later on – on your main site.
Build a Business Fan Page on Facebook. Use it to update your followers about the things going on within your business. You can also use Facebook to create local advertisements, if applicable.
Create a Twitter account and link it to an advanced networking tool like HootSuite or TweetDeck. These tools will give you a bit of flexibility and will hep you to find trending topics so that you can constantly relate to your followers and their needs.
Create a LinkedIn account, network with others in your field, and create a feed so that the professionals you are networking with can access your blog posts and Facebook updates with ease. Make sure those who have used your services are writing recommendations for you as well.
Focus on what you can give your followers – not what you want to get from them. The more you give, the more authoritative you become. As your fans begin to trust you, they’ll begin to remember your name – and will think of you when it is time to make a real purchase.
The way you ultimately use social networking sites will differ depending on the type of product or business you run. At the end of the day, though, you’ll find social networking to be a critical part of your marketing campaign. Add it to your marketing plan and spend a bit of time networking every day. You’ll begin to see a difference in no time.
Dona Collins is a blogger, financial writer for CreditLoan.com and a part time infographic artist. You can find more of her work at CreditLoan Blog.