The Social Media Revolution: Make Money Or Die

5 Steps To Prepare For The Social Media Revolution

Are you ready for the social media revolution?“No taxation without representation” was the rallying point that started the protests and rebellions that led up to the American Revolution.

Colonists were opposed to British taxes on tea, legal documents and many other goods. You can’t blame the British Parliament; it’s easy to tax people who are an ocean away. 

Similarly, many social media platforms are undergoing a quiet revolution. This is represented by the change in sales management at Pinterest and by Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costolo stepping down.

Scratch beneath the surface and you’ll see that for investors, these sites aren’t generating sales fast enough to justify their high market valuations.

Unlike the British government, most social media platforms don’t seek to tax their members in the form of fees and subscriptions. That would be a media entity no-no. It could cause them to loose their respective audiences, a bad thing for a media entity. Instead social media platforms are likely to generate income from marketers seeking access to their active members.

3 Ways media entities make money

This is a turning point. Social media entities are forced to generate money, becoming true media platforms. They can do so in the following 3 ways. Media Definition - Revenue Generation-Chart-Heidi Cohen

1. Advertising

Social media advertising allows marketers to target specific audiences based on member profiles and activities for a fee.

Advertising continues to be an important way to monetize social media. Despite the fact that people complain about advertising, most are unwilling to pay for an ad-free environment.

To be effective, your social media ads must break-through and engage prospects with targeted, useful, social media friendly content. You need to change ads frequently and continue the experience after participants click-through to your landing page.

2. Subscriptions

Social media entities can offer subscriptions to members as well as marketers. LinkedIn has offered membership since its early days. Expect other social media entities to charge for business accounts and related analytics as well as for special features.

3. One-off products

These offerings vary broadly. For example, LinkedIn offers HR related services.

To appreciate the options available to social media entities, examine traditional third party media and smaller social media entities.

  • Sell data. Social media activity reveals a lot of information about members. One of the biggest obstacles is how to merchandise this valuable data without seeming creepy to members.
  • Host events, both live and virtual. This is traditional B2B marketing at its best.
  • Create content. Many magazines have custom publishing arms. Why not leverage the insider information to develop attention-winning information?
  • Offer classes. Extend your expertise to packaged training. Consider both real-time and on-demand.
  • Provide a publishing platform. For example, Ravelry has broken the traditional knitting publishing model. It’s top designers make nice 6 figure incomes.

Social media revolution bottom line:

Be prepared to invest in your social media business presence including creative, presence and advertising.

5 Steps to prepare for the social media revolution

Accept it or not, the social media revolution is here.

Facebook is larger and more experienced at growing its base and revenues than its social media peers. Facebook is the top social media platform globally. Businesses need to augment their Facebook marketing with paid Facebook advertising. (Check out Jon Loomer for help with your Facebook ads.)

To ensure that your business is prepared for the social media revolution, take these 5 steps. Are you ready for the social media revolution?

1. Create an owned social media homebase

This is fancy marketing talk for build a blog. (BTW—Chris Brogan’s been telling people this for years.)

While we’ve made the case for blogging before, in short, you need a blog because you control it. A blog provides content on a regular basis, which in turn drives social sharing and commenting.

Need help? Here’s a free blogging checklist you can download.

Actionable Marketing Tip:

  • Set up your company blog and integrate it into your website. Don’t assume that this will happen on its own.

2. Expect to pay to play on various social media platforms

As a marketer this has implications for your plans and your budget. Specifically you’ll need:

  • Content tailored to each platform and your prospective audience there.
  • People to participate and represent your business on social media networks.
  • Marketing and sales to convert social media leads into customers.
  • Budget to pay for advertising and subscription (or other type of business account fees) for each platform.
  • Analytics tools to track your results since you need to show results for your marketing investment.

Actionable Marketing Tip:

  • Increase your social media budget to account for advertising on your major social media platforms. Ideally start testing your ads with your 2015 budget to ensure that you have enough money for 2016.

3. Leverage the power of your employees

Unless you’re a sole proprietor or a solopreneur, get your employees to help build your social media presence. Take advantage of their activity, followers and credibility.

On average, each person on social media has 150 connections, the Dunbar number. If you’re a small business with 10 employees that translates to 1,500 connections before you start to build your social media base.

Actionable Marketing Tip:

  • Help your employees with their professional image. Don’t assume that your workers know what to do on social media since they’re millennials. Instead make it into a company day where everyone gets new photos and help optimizing their profiles.
  • Take professional photographs. Get everyone involved and take photographs of your entire team.

4. Get your company thought leaders involved

The objective is to leverage other people’s audiences. Where possible take advantage of existing followings.

If you don’t have any, then consider who will make your business’s best spokesperson. It can be an employee or a customer. The important element is: what do they bring to the party and what do you need to do to get and keep them active.

Actionable Marketing Tip:

  • Consider who has the most credibility with your key audience(s). Don’t assume that it’s the CEO. Your technical advisors are more respected based on Edelman Barometer research.

5. Join the social media land grab

Make sure that you’ve got your brand and business name across multiple social media platforms. If you don’t, your competitors and detractors may squat on them waiting for the ideal time to attack. This is the same advice that goes for URLs.

Test every new platform. Get volunteers to help with this process and put the spotlight on them to give them the attention they deserve and seek.

Expect new social media platforms to continue to appear. Not all of them will prove viable or useful to your business. Remember that being an early user helps you to build your following.

Actionable Marketing Tip:

  • Show someone is home. Don’t just leave your social media homepage empty. Complete your basic profile to attract attention. Never leave low cost opportunities unfulfilled.
  • Include your website and a means of contact. I’m surprised at how many small businesses don’t publish a phone number; assuming that prospects will complete an email form.

The bottom line is that social media entities must continue to find new ways to generate revenues quickly. Regardless of which options they choose, marketers will have to pay more for their social media presences and related marketing and advertising.

What other suggestions do you have for marketers to minimize social media expense?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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