Making money online with social media and social networking is often looked at with mysticism, confusion, doubt, and misguidance. We will go over the numerous principles to capitalizing on these powerful mediums and why so many other techniques often fail. First we must understand what social media and networking sites are, and what they are not.
According to Wikipedia social media is “activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction"; social networking is very similar stating “facilitates communication between a group of individuals or organizations. . . . shared values. " The most obvious word the two share is social; the goal of these websites is to bring people together in a relevant, organized fashion, to better transfer their knowledge and passions. They are not identical but the principles are the same: people sharing knowledge, organization, shared interests. We will use the term social media to represent both fields.
Chances are you have read somewhere to focus on niche marketing. While being in a niche is a solid business plan, understand that people are people, and like people, we all are more alike than dissimilar. Do not miss out on the opportunity to reach new audiences for fear of being different; people have broad interests, personalities, and “light bulbs" that go off when they see something alien to them. If you, like many marketers focus only on niches you will pigeon hole your own growth. Here is an example. I co-run GameFriends.com, a social network for all things video game related. The gamers in the community vary from hardcore, to casual, and every degree in between. Now, if we strictly marketed to known gamers we would have a finite pool (albeit enormous) but we would be missing out on people that did NOT actively know they wanted to play games until the opportunity arose. The idea works the same way as “impulse buying". Native Americans did not know Columbus came by boats because they did not “see" the boats; it wasn't in their realm of consciousness. It was only after they were exposed to them did they “see them". Marketing works the same way; let your product/service enter the minds of the masses and you will gain new audiences.
Now making money online is not all about you (scary isn't it?). You are in a relationship with the internet, the social media site you are utilizing, and the people within it. How would you like it if your girlfriend made you mow the lawn, cook her dinner and satisfy her needs and told you good night? You would feel used at the very least, and ready to explode (with anger ha). Now on the other hand if she cooked you dinner while you mowed the lawn and gave you a back massage you would both feel pretty good. Mutual benefit is the only way true relationships work. Never make the mistake of trying to get something out of someone for nothing. As Earl nightingale has taught us mutual benefit is the only real way for prosperity. When approaching a social medium, whether a forum, a bookmarking oriented site such as digg or reddit, or a large network such facebook, myspace or GameFriends you must enter with the mindset of contributing positively to the community. In fact, making money online is the last step to becoming successful. You will only make money online once you have become successful and contributing to others success.
Social media is not a place to drop as many links and spam as many people as possible. If you treat it as such you will be wasting your time. Behind social media are real life people like yourself. Just think how you would want to be treated. Keep in mind however this does not mean you can personally connect with each person. I love interacting with people but it is just not possible on a mass scale depending on your niche or product. To counteract this you must be as open and honest about your intentions and what you hope to bring to the community. An example of positively contributing to Digg would be to compile a list of the best of X, and truly taking your time to make it relevant to your product/service, or creating a Facebook group to raise awareness of your business with quality content. Yahoo Answers and GameFriends Ask a Gamer are great examples of researching and sharing knowledge and being rewarded with a link back to your website, as well as the quality article directories that distribute this.
Action. There are thousands of social media websites. To start you should sign up to about 5 of them and contribute your knowledge and add friends. If you contribute to each social medium (daily progress) you will have a great standing within the community in just 30 days. The more active you are the quicker the process becomes. Then after this time you will be able to let your friends know and others within the community about your shiny new red model cars for sale, or whatever you are selling. This isn't a guarantee of success, but if you sign up and tell everyone about your shiny new red model cars before some foreplay you will be kicked out of the metaphorical bed, aka social medium. If you are in the game industry you can read a more thorough article titled how to make money online with gamefriends (coming soon). Remember to utilize niche mediums but not to limit yourself, contribute your knowledge in a relevant way to expose your product, make friends, patience, passion, and determination. Not everyone has the budget to run a huge website but since the advent of blogger and other amazing services all you need is the willingness to share your passions and you can turn a “simple blog" into a powerhouse of informative content that other networks recognize for its professionalism and a trusted website backed by a real person.