Jun 6, 2011

5 Steps Toward Monetizing Your Social Media

Each day, people interact with your brand online — whether you’re involved or not. Social media supports your community by providing a platform for end users to communicate with your brand.

So how can you turn social media — and your online community — into real, measurable results? Here are five tips to get you started [...]
1. Set clear business goals. Social media itself is not a strategy; it is a set of tools that help support a business strategy. Before investing resources into social media, decide what you plan to achieve. Ask yourself why your site exists — to sell online? To encourage store visits? Your social media should do the same — and it should be measurable. It’s not enough to focus on number of site visits, fans, or followers.
Create paths of continuous participation.

2. Keep visitors engaged — don’t stop with one interaction. For example, if a customer writes a review for a product on your site, send them a follow-up email encouraging them to answer other consumers’ questions about that product, upload their own product photos, or write a product story. These interactions will also encourage other consumers to participate.

3. Engage everyone, not just contributors.Your visitors, customers, experts, and influencers aren’t the only ones who contribute to and benefit from your community. Engage your employees by inviting them to answer visitor or customer questions. Have a spokesperson or celebrity endorser contribute a story about how they interact with your product. Give suppliers or manufacturers access to your community so they can share their product expertise.

4. Make your efforts contextually relevant. Everything a consumer sees should contribute to his or her goals for the interaction. In other words, if people generally come to your site to buy something, all online interactions should help them move toward that goal. The community should exist to support consumers. As a brand, you can’t dictate what a consumer buys — but you can give them superior access to information that will help them evaluate your products. The brand no longer dictates what a consumer buys, it’s the experience they have in the evaluation process. Consumers get recommendations from friends, analyze peer reviews, and evaluate alternatives. Help them do this in your community.
5. Drive revenue, not just web metrics. A recent survey of CMOs showed that 81% of CMOs expect to link their annual revenues directly to their social media investment in 2010. Metrics like sales conversion, revenue, and average order value — figures that track directly to the bottom line — are replacing web metrics, such as site traffic or page views. You can also use your online community to improve customer support while decreasing support costs.