If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, it will probably not shock you to learn that about 40% of tweets are “pointless babble,” according to Pear Analytics. In fact, in their recent study, they rated only 8.7% as having “pass-along value” – the gold standard for true viral marketing.
“I feel like eating Cheetos with my grilled cheese & turkey sandwich, but I have none :(“
This presents a huge challenge to the modern marketer. We all see social media and the real-time web as a pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow. But with these new media awash in so much “pointless babble,” finding success with social media marketing is akin to trying to find that rainbow against a psychedelic sky of endlessly flashing colors.
So before our next free web clinic – Social Media Marketing in 4 Steps: A methodology to move from sporadic to strategic use based on research with 2,317 marketers – on which MarketingSherpa Research Director Sergio Balegno will share actionable insights from research on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging, we thought we’d post this simple (and simply blunt) question to marketers:
How do you use social media to make money?
From the obvious (“cultivate relationships”) to the iconoclastic (“you don’t”), marketers had many interesting takes on this question (what else would you expect from a group that has to think out of the box for a living?). Here are our favorite tips, techniques and insights:
Win real fans
I have a brand called Mocks (socks for mobile phones) which I started to heavily promote on Facebook last year. Basically, over three months I gained 12000 fans and doubled online sales.
I use social media as a way to increase brand awareness and engage customers so that they become fans in the “old” sense of the word. This then means that they buy more and tell their friends.
New way of thinking for a direct response pro
We have really embraced social media in the past year to raise our profile in our own industry (medical marketing). Until recently, because we come from direct response backgrounds, we focused all of our marketing efforts solely on targeted prospects, with little regard for the larger industry.
Our strategy has been to leverage the publication-quality content we were already producing for magazines and our newsletter base. Therefore, we are getting a lot of bang for little additional effort, leading to more and better client inquiries.
Long-term relationships over short-term profits
Social networking isn’t always about an instantaneous transformation into dollars. It is about a long-term continuous relationship with the customer. You stay on their mind even when they aren’t actively seeking your product.
Virtual Tupperware party
Direct selling on a social network is difficult. The best way to sell is to replicate the offline world to a certain extent by signing up online agents. The same people who would host a cosmetics party or a Tupperware party are natural networkers who will have large social networks on all of the primary platforms.
The possibility exists to build a platform that they can invite their friends to at specific times and, in effect, host online sales parties. Obvious inducements include discounts on branded goods and free prizes, but the key may be to create a uniform space for the agents that they can build into a profile for themselves.
Even without a platform, they could simply become discount agents for their friends. Somebody who all their friends know can get good deals on specific products or services.
For the agent, it is not abusing their relationships on the social network platforms. For the most part, their friends already know them as somebody who hosts sales parties and they will either be ignored or valued but are unlikely to be criticized for the entrepreneurial efforts among their friends.
A straightforward sale
E-commerce websites (especially B2C) are the ones who can reap maximum benefits out of social media. The best examples are Dell and Zappos. Dell has reportedly made $3.5 million in 2009 from Twitter promotions.
These retailers post updates about various product offers in Twitter, Facebook and other social media. And they also give additional promotions to followers. Timely promotions to a well-targeted market segment will spur an increase in conversion rates and hence an increase in revenue.
One emerging trend is Facebook and Twitter commerce. Retailers are trying to build applications around Facebook and Twitter to port their entire commerce platform.
Find out what customers want
By gaining a relationship or connecting with your customers and getting feedback, you can take the ideas they offer and put them into practice. For small businesses this is easier because most changes will be simple and not too costly. Larger business might need to run suggestions through a spreadsheet to find the most popular ideas before taking action.
Also, by doing this you pull in your customers and let them know they are being heard and that you’re really looking to make them happy. A great example of this type of mentality is Domino’s. They listened and then took action.
Track lead generation
When it comes to quantifying social media and social networking efforts into an actual dollar value, the best way I’ve discovered is to use a simple tracking system. This consists of a spreadsheet and/or entry into my CRM that shows: lead to customer and what channel they came through, whether this be blog, social network (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), or referral.
Present real value
Social media must be presented as a value proposition. It’s got nothing to do with befriending people and tweeting, but everything to do with brand value and lead generation.
If you are currently advertising for customers, you can now “advertise” for FREE by posting a sample, giveaway, or contest on Twitter and linking to your website. Ask for pertinent details that are important to qualifying your potential customers…and drive them to your site.
Social media is about awareness, not revenue
We use it to drive business and increase our profile, nothing more. But do we make money from it? No, we make the money from the services that we provide to our clients. Our social media strategy could be the best in the world but if we cannot deliver then it is pointless. So yes, it drives traffic, increases awareness, and generates leads, but it does not make money.
As we confront this brave new world, let’s remember that there is nothing particularly new about it…
Personally, social media has been around forever. We have always had teenage hangouts, chambers of commerce, the restaurant breakfast/coffee club, the local newspaper and specialized magazines. The difference today is that our social media has more two-way interaction, is worldwide, and can be instant.
Social media is not a novel concept, we’ve just thrown a bunch of technology into the mix. And there are great benefits – speed, cost, and reach among them. But don’t get so caught up in the technology that you overlook what is really transpiring – a conversation.
Because, in the end, people don’t buy from social media platforms (or websites or email messages or even companies) – people buy from people.