Everybody and their mother is using social media in some way these days - in fact, there's now an estimated 2.62 billion active users of social platforms, and rising every day.
Heck, even dogs now have their own social media accounts.
However, it goes without saying that social media has significantly more potential than merely serving as a forum for sharing selfies and memes.
That potential is something that's been recognized by nearly every company as an opportunity to help grow their business - many brands even feel ‘invisible’ without some type of social media presence.
In some ways, this is true - social media can be used as a powerful marketing tool by businesses in nearly every type of industry.
However, while social is a valuable marketing tools, the biggest mistake that most businesses make with their social media efforts is that they focus too much on vanity metrics.
How many followers do you have? How many likes or shares do you get?
The bottom line is that these types of metrics don’t actually matter beyond the superficial glamour of it all.
As a business, what matters is your actual bottom line.
It doesn’t matter if you have 100k followers if that audience never converts into customers in any way.
So how can you monetize your social media accounts to encourage conversions?
Here are three ways to get started.
1. Direct Sales
The first example is perhaps the most obvious, but also an often overlooked opportunity.
There are various ways to make direct sales to your social media audience - however many businesses seem to forget that this is even an option because there's so much social media advice out there which warns against too much self-promotion.
100% - this is true - not every post can be about your next ‘big sale’ or fancy-shmancy new product feature - otherwise you won’t have an audience to try and sell to at all.
That being said, there is a time and place where making a direct CTA is appropriate. This is particularly effective when you have the right balance between interesting content and an appealing product.
I’ll admit, some industries are better suited to direct sales on social media. Interior design, furniture, fashion, real estate, and other visually-appealing businesses usually do better, simply because the visual nature of their products is more appealing in the social content environment.
A great example of this done very successfully is the real estate Instagram account @Luxury_Listings.
This account has gained great traction because it strikes a balance between stunning photography, a desirable product (who wouldn’t want to live there?), and very subtle CTAs which don’t bombard the audience.
The lesson to learn from Luxury Listings is that you can be consistently making direct sales offers to your audience:
- If your content holds value regardless of the sales offer
- If you stay far away from obnoxious for any CTAs
2. Video Marketing
2018 is the year of video, and it’s estimated that up to 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019.
It’s also no secret that YouTube and Facebook can pay dividends with the right amount of traffic, while there’s also huge potential for earning as an influencer or affiliate marketer that produces top quality content.
So forget about leads for a moment (I know - hard to do) and let’s focus on monetizing social media by leveraging better video content.
There are a few ways to make money with video content:
- Ad revenue from racking up views
- Influencer promotion
- Affiliate marketing
An example of someone who does this very well is Lewis Hilsenteger from Unbox Therapy.
Unbox Therapy taps into all three opportunities very successfully. Their content is all high-quality and very product-centric, which lends well to influencer and affiliate marketing.
The quality and consistency of their content drives great engagement and viewership, which has helped them build a huge audience, making their account very appealing to brands.
Most of their videos get millions of views, which means that off the bat they're able to gain passive revenue from as.
Their huge audience is also what makes them so appealing to brands looking to get in front of an engaged audience, which opens up tons of opportunities as an influencer or affiliate.
Many companies will pay big bucks to get featured on a channel like Unbox Therapy, simply because it can mean even bigger bucks for their sales.
3. Lead Generation
This is a super important method for monetization that every business should be focused on when trying to get more out of their social media accounts.
Every user that joins your audience on social media is a potential customer - it just takes a little bit of strategy to start converting them.
There are so many ways to generate leads from social media that it can sometimes be overwhelming, however the biggest mistake that most businesses make is operating their social media with the assumption that leads will just appear based on the mere existence of their accounts.
Unfortunately, this is very rarely the case.
It's entirely necessary to employ additional marketing strategies in order to capture leads. While there is cross-over, building an engaged audience and converting them into leads are two very different practices.
An example of a brand that does this very well is HubSpot.
The reason they're so successful with lead generation on social media is because their sales funnels always lead with value.
Here are a few ways that they pull this off:
- They create incredible content for their blog which is delightfully shareable and easily inspires traffic to their site.
- They regularly host webinars with influential and insightful thought leaders, which creates a direct call for email capture that is easily promoted on social media.
- They create free resources like their free CRM or free invoice generator which are super shareable on social media.
The strength and value behind their content helps them to continue building their audience and capture leads based on a fair value exchange - people are much more willing to give up their email or share some information if they know that they are getting something in return.
However, the key lesson to be learned from HubSpot is that leads don’t just appear - they're generated by giving your prospective customers something in return for their information and entering them into your sales funnel.
As you can see, there are a heap of ways to monetize your social audience, but you need to actively utilize methods to guide your audience along, and not settle for mere vanity metrics.