Social media platforms are more than just a tool to update your relationship status, share cat pictures with friends, and post political memes. By giving you a potentially limitless audience, social media also offers significant money-making opportunities. These are some of the top ways you can use social media to bolster your income:
Promote affiliate products
A variety of merchants offer people the opportunity to promote products in exchange for a small commission. Sign up for Amazon Associates, ClickBank, or ShareASale — among others — and get to work creating ads for items that will appeal to your audience. When, for example, your readers click one of your affiliate links and buy products from Amazon, you earn a referral fee.
This is a relatively simple way to monetize projects or make supplementary income from your brand, no matter the social media platform you use — whether it’s Facebook, YouTube, or your own personal blog. Just remember affiliate marketing networks have rules governing how you can advertise their products, most of them concerned with ethics.
“Make sure to disclose your affiliate relationships,” says Thomas Smale, founder of FE International, a professional website broker. “This is a legal requirement in most cases, but it's also ‘best practice.’ Your readers or viewers will appreciate your honesty.”
Advertise your products and services
One way to earn money from social media is to directly advertise your products and services. This is a good method for driving traffic to your business, but it’s only effective if you already have a sizable following. Smale also warns against being overzealous in promoting products. “If your followers see that you’re constantly tweeting about one product or another, not only will they not click on the links, they will also un-follow you,” he says.
One way to get around this is to create a social media posting schedule. Calls to action are important, but they shouldn’t make up every post you make on social media. Digital marketing expert Christina Newberry says small businesses should strive to make about 80 percent of their content informative, educative, or entertaining, and use the remaining 20 percent to promote the brand or sell products.
Run sponsored posts
On social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you can pay to run sponsored posts that are delivered to a larger audience than you would otherwise have access to. These tools are well suited to businesses with limited social media marketing knowledge and an interest in boosting brand awareness and user engagement in short-term campaigns.
Marketing analyst Kelly Main says, “Businesses can sponsor posts through their Facebook business profile by selecting a post to sponsor, setting a maximum budget for a set number of days, and choosing targeting options.” One of the main advantages of boosted posts is that despite their ability to expand your audience exponentially and target engaged and relevant prospects, they are nonetheless very cost-friendly.