Monetizing Your Social Media Communities: What You Should Know

If you have your own social media community, you may be wondering how you can make some money on it. After all, you have some money invested in the site running the community, so why not monetize it, right? Content monetization can be as simple or complex as you want to make it, and there are several options that you can use. You can use several special platforms that make the monetizing process easier or you can do it all by yourself.

There are a few main concepts of monetization that you should follow. Let’s have a look a bit closer at them.

Sponsorship and Advertising

Sponsorship allows you to get paid for social media posts. Have you ever seen anyone post something and then it said: “this is a sponsored post”? In most cases, bloggers or vloggers create a post completely dedicated to one product or service framing it with their usual style of blogging so that this advertisement does not look like a usual ad but like a regular post. If the result of this cooperation is good, the company may offer a blogger a long-term contract for series of posts or for mentioning their brand in some of your posts. When it comes to websites and networks, sponsorship is often about the investment that will eventually benefit both the brand and the blogger.

By advertising, we mean allowing companies to pay for you to put an advertisement of some sort on your social media community. This can come in many forms, whether it is a banner ad, a small sidebar ad, a few lines about the promoting product under your post, or some other form.

Advertising can be most effective for larger communities, and often when those communities fit a specific niche or target audience. “All my friends” networks rarely can be interesting for companies, but “DIY drones” network definitely can. So, if your community centers around a group of people who like a certain thing, it is wiser to use ads somehow related to this thing. Obviously, the audience response to an ad of nail polish placed in a community dedicated to beauty tendencies will be higher than the same ad placed in “How to rule universe from home” network.

Recommendations and Affiliate Marketing

One of the best examples for affiliate marketing could come in the form of the Amazon Associates Program.  This program allows members to create affiliate links that they can place on websites and social media, and when others click on those links and make purchases through those links, then the affiliate receives a small percentage of the sale as a commission of sorts.  It is important to note, however, that if you are in the United States, FTC guidelines do require you to state that you are using affiliate links on your site.

This method works the most effective when you use the links organically. In other words, do not just randomly insert links, but link to things that you are already talking about. For example, if you are talking about a specific book that you have read and really enjoyed, you could insert a link to that book on Amazon.

Loyalty Programs

If you’re thinking that how to monetize traffic, loyalty programs can be a great option.  This does take a bit of a change in mindset, however, and the requirement of the building of a business model.  

It is really a simple concept:  You are intentionally and purposefully connecting your community members with companies and brands and retailers. Those companies get new customers who are interested in their offer, and your members get products and services that need.  So in this case, everyone benefits.

These programs are extremely beneficial for all involved, but they do take a great deal more legwork.  There is much more research involved in determining which programs are going to benefit the most.

Paid Access

If you already have a great audience, and the content you publish is unique and useful, you can try paid access options. Some platforms allow you to implement paywalls to your articles and videos so users can view it only after paying a certain amount of money. Most social media like Facebook or Twitter do not allow this kind of service so it can be applied only to your own websites based on the platforms that support monetization features.

At some point, you can even implement paywall to the whole network, kind of turning the membership in your network as a privilege. In this case, you need to think of how to promote your website on other media to find new members.

The Bottom Line: It Comes Down to Strategy!

No matter which one of these options you plan to use, you need to have a clear-cut and well planned out strategy so that you can monetize your community effectively and efficiently without any kinks.

Some things to make sure you understand:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • How will the program stay true to your values?
  • What are the results you are looking for?
  • Is the revenue worth what you are putting into it?

After all, if you know what you are looking to get out of it, it is easy to determine the right options and the right course of action. If you are still unsure what to do, read as much as possible about monetization, nowadays there is a huge amount of information about the issue on the Internet. Even the Economist is talking about how to make social media communities profitable and offers a course about it.

While it can sometimes seem overwhelming, it actually may be quite simple once you start.  It is about finding what works for you the best. And if you try something and it doesn’t work, it is always fine to try something else. Mistakes are a part of the game.

Just remember that whatever you go with, make sure it fits with the nature and the theme of the community. If the monetization affect your content and all your posts or videos look too salesy, then neither you nor your community members will take advantage of it.  Give some of these tips a try and see what works for you. Good luck!

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