How To Monetize Social Networks

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 18, 2015

The digital revolution is here, and e-commerce is bigger than ever. We’re buying everything from groceries to cars online. The rise of this new medium has paved the way for not only marketers to find new ways to reach their intended audiences but for users to capitalize on what they may or may not already be doing. Digital networks establish ways people are connected to each other. Those with a larger following (more friends and followers) are considered “influencers.”

Brands are willing to pay thousands of dollars to have their product exposed to an influencer’s audience. The most popular ways brands are aligning with users as part of their marketing strategy online are (1) running digital banners on a blogger’s physical website, (2) creating content for an influencer’s social media account on networks like Instagram, (3) buying video advertising on YouTube and (4) extending their digital sales through affiliate programs. 



Build a Following as a Blogger 

While this is probably the most successful approach, it is also the most time-consuming. More bluntly: it takes dedication. By creating content people are interested in and building a strong following, there is physical virtual space to sell online advertising. Brands will even pay to have targeted messaging about their products (known as sponsored posts or branded content) included in a blogger’s posts. Advertising networks like Millennial Blogs and Chitika connect bloggers and advertisers.

Promote Products on Instagram and Snapchat 

These days, followers have become social currency. Mobile-first apps like Instagram and Snapchat are very popular among millennials, and for the right amount of followers, users receive cold hard cash for promoting a brand in a social media post. Companies like Snapfluence have created a marketing platform to connect users and brands in the social space.

Upload Videos on YouTube

While YouTube is the most popular video website and app of all time, it houses mostly user-generated content (UGC). It was designed for people to upload and share their personal stories. Since YouTube has exploded in growth over the past couple of years, ads are now playing before and sometimes in the middle of every YouTube video. By creating a YouTube channel, vloggers (video bloggers) can monetize videos by giving up the copyright to their content and enabling Google AdSense, which allows YouTube to play ads before videos. If a big enough audience (known as subscribers in YouTube vernacular) is obtained, users become a YouTube Partner.

Create Affiliate Accounts

Any user can become an “affiliate” advertiser to help generate sales for a company. Marketing materials are provided to be distributed onto social media networks, and users are paid a commission based on how much business is generated influencing friends and followers to make a purchase. Popular companies like Amazon and iTunes use affiliate advertisers and have successful programs.

Alternative lifestyles are being created for millennials via monetizing social networks. Today’s users are creating new careers for themselves and defining new professional segments along the way. Whether the effort is full- or part-time, any user can make some cash from his or her online friends and followers by becoming a blogger, promoting products on Instagram, uploading videos on YouTube and creating affiliate shopping accounts.

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