The essential guide to monetising social media

If you’re looking for a better return on your social media investment, this guide from Australia’s top online mavericks could be of value.

Wouldn’t it be great if every time we posted or tweeted it resulted in a sale?

But it doesn’t, does it?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been led to believe that social media is the holy grail of conversion; that if we just post or tweet on a regular basis, all our sales woes will be over.

If you’re looking for a better return on your social media investment, this guide to how some of Australia’s top online mavericks monetise social media could be of value.

These mavericks know what they’re talking about too: Gabby Leibovich’s Catch of the Day has 500,000 likes. Darren Rowse’s Pro Blogger blog has more than five million readers per week, and John Winning’s Appliances Online has more than 300,000 likes – and they’re just a few of those interviewed on this topic, so ignore their advice at your own peril.

Here’s the top three take-outs I took from those interviews.

  1. If you want to make money from social media, you need to get your prospects off social media

Think about how you use Facebook or Twitter. Do you go there to buy something or for other reasons? Chances are it’s the latter.

If you wanted to buy what someone had to offer, you’d probably go direct to their site and buy it instantly. You might find them via Facebook, but if you wanted to give them your money you’d probably go to their website to do it.

If you want to monetise social media, you should use it to drive people to your website, not the other way around.

  1. Invest in your own ‘real estate’

Investing heavily in social media at the expense of your own ‘real estate’ (like your website, your blog etc) is like being a tenant in a lovely flat – at the start, it all looks great. Nice landlord, reasonable rent, great view.

But what happens if the flat gets sold or the owner puts the rent up? You have no option but to move out or else pay the higher price. It’s the same with social media. Whoever owns the platform (Zuckerberg, Dorsey etc) makes the rules.

So why would you invest all your time and money into someone else’s platform when they could change the rules at any time (as they do) and take you out of the game?

Make it a point to start collecting customer contact details (email addresses, phone numbers etc) so that you ‘own’ the customer, rather than relying on social media platforms to do the collecting for you.

If you want to monetise social media, you should use it to drive people to your website, not the other way around.

  1. Offer something awesome that your customers value

Here’s an example of how being awesome helped a company use social media to drive sales and reduce advertising expenditure.

A friend of mine, a social-media devotee, discovered one morning that her washing machine had broken down. As any busy working mother of three would know, this is a major catastrophe. Without thinking, she does what any self-respecting social-media junkie does; she jumps on Facebook and sends out a post saying, ‘Help! My washing machine’s died. Can anyone recommend where can get another one urgently?

Within seconds, she gets back a plethora of responses. ‘Try Appliances Online. Good prices. They deliver, and they take away the old one for free’. Another post says the same thing, and another. Within three minutes she has all the information she needs to make a decision: Appliances Online it is.

It gets better. Not only does she go and buy from them, but she gets back online and praises Appliances Online to her tens of thousands of followers.

Who needs advertising when you’ve peer-to-peer endorsements like that? Social media not only helps Appliance On create sales, but it helps it save money by reducing the cost of its advertisings too.

Social media can definitely generate sales for your company, but it won’t in a logical, orderly fashion just because you post a few tweets and updates. If you’re not getting the results you want from social-media efforts, maybe it’s worth the mavericks’ approach and seeing where it takes you.

Bernadette Schwerdt, online mark strategist, conference speaker. Author of ‘Secrets of online entrepreneurs – how Australia’s mavericks, disruptors and innovators built their internet businesses and how you can too’

This article first appeared in issue 10 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine

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