So, for the first time I decided to experiment a little. Usually when I post a white paper or eBook I ask for an email address in exchange for a download. But for this eBook "Online Marketing For Local Businesses, a Beginners Guide" I added a new feature. Pay With a Tweet! It's just like the good old days, - and I mean centuries old - where instead of currency offered in exchange for goods, other products or services were acceptable payment and I like it!
No cash or credit? No problem!
There was a time when professionals and tradesmen were able to give what they worked hard to create in return for something they needed, and no one batted an eye. Okay, you can call me (really) old-fashioned, but doesn't that sound like a sustainable model, not to mention an outstanding and friendly place to conduct business?
But we all know that cash is king, and bartering and trading is a far cry of past, arguably better days. So why, then, are we talking about it? What does bartering have to do with SEO practices, social media campaigns or content marketing? The 21st century has not completely forgone the ability to barter. It just looks a bit different, and, low and behold, it involves cold hard cash.
How often do you share a link or a friend's status update, or retweet a hilarious post? If you're active on social media, along with the other 1.7 billion (yes, billion) users who access sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram daily, chances are you're able to honestly answer that question with a confident, "every now and again."
If something moves us, speaks to us, or is just downright amusing, we have the desire (and ability) to share that information/video/picture/meme/article with our social circle. There is no more efficient way to do this than through social media. Come on, it's in the name! It takes less than a second to do so, and makes us feel connected with our friends or followers.
It should be no surprise then that payment through social media shares is now becoming a thing. By thing, I don't mean a fad to quickly pass. I mean a real, viable, and most importantly, profitable strategy for businesses of all shapes, sizes, and missions. Although payment through social media sharing isn't an entirely new concept, it is gaining momentum at an impressive clip. I mean, when there's an app or software program built just for this, you can consider it worth a few minutes of your time (see www.sharewall.co.uk, or www.paywithatweet.com).
Even so, most business owners would argue that defining the clear line between social media shares and cash in hand from sales is a difficult task. So let's go down that road together, shall we?
Why Sharing as Payment?
We all know that content is king. When it comes to marketing via social media, the first principle to live and breathe is the fact that some sort of connection needs to be made continually in order for our prospects and customers to engage with our brand. So we spend time developing awesome blogs (just like this one), engaging stories, updates on events, and product and service updates, and demos in order to keep the attention of our followers.
I get that, but businesses begin to lose hope when it comes to growth. Just like our customers, we want everything, right now. But content marketing through social media takes time, for which we are all hard pressed to find.
When we give our audience the ability to use social media sharing as a currency, growth of that audience can be exponential, and faster than paid methods. Instead of paying for promotions through Facebook or banner ads on other sites, we have the ability to increase the number of visitors to our sites organically. Think of sharing as currency as a true grassroots campaign - we engage our current audience with content they love, which in turns makes them love us even more, and then they take two seconds of their precious time to share that with their social circles. Viola! We've now tapped the shoulder of hundreds more potential customers who may have not known who the heck we were five minutes ago. I'd call that content marketing at its finest.
Why Does it Work?
Let's be real - consumers can be cheap, especially when it comes to content. Why in the world would someone pay for an article or blog post when there are a thousand other sites that offer similar material for free? Enter sharing as payment, stage left. Consumers are much faster to link their social media site of choice or enter an e-mail address than they are to reach for their credit card. It's just that simple. According to Pay With a Tweet (www.paywithatweet.com), more than 6.5 million people have used sharing as currency to date. That speaks volumes. So does it work? Well, I will let you know in a future post.
How Does This Turn into Cash?
It's clear to see that consumers respond much better to sharing as currency as opposed to currency as currency, but how does that directly benefit us?
First, the ability to quickly gather visitor contact information through this medium means e-mail marketing ads can be seamlessly implemented. Through the share wall posted on your site, you can allow visitors to sign up for your newsletter or refers friends, expanding your network even more. Additionally, sharing as currency grows your audience organically. The more eyes on your fabulous content, the greater the chance that conversion actually takes place. If no one knows our businesses exist, no one is buying. Sharing via social media can make this obstacle a moot point.
Finally, aside from the set-up costs associated with adding a share wall to your site, expenses are minimal. Instead of paying per click, you can have truly connected prospects visit your site regularly, and add them to your e-mail list or remarketing campaign in kind.
Sharing through social media can be a viable monetization option for any business, if you're willing to put in the work up front. Make sure your content is engaging and connects your business with your intended audience; post that content on your social media sites in order to prompt click-through to your site; establish a share wall in order to capture pertinent contact information up front, and organically grow your audience through grassroots sharing. This new wave of currency is taking off in a big way, and your business can take part and, ultimately, have greater success in conversion and growth.