Every person reading this blog is now a participant in social media. After all, this is written by an individual, not broadcasted at you by a traditional media company, and thus is a true example of user generated content. As we become users of social media, whether through finding old friends on Facebook or connecting with new colleagues on LinkedIn, social media is slowly becoming part of our daily life. And if we have ever been in a job search, social media becomes increasingly important for us to utilize as part of both an online and offline networking strategy. Have you ever thought about monetizing your social media presence?
The Internet introduced to us new names, Amazon to begin with, that utilized the Internet as their entire platform. Amazon never had a retail brick-and-mortar outlet and still doesn’t. If the Internet can be used as a platform for business, why can’t social media? Obviously, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter themselves are companies that couldn’t exist without us, the user, providing content to them and sharing it with others. How can we start leveraging these social media platforms to either help expand our small business or drive a new entrepreneurial idea to monetizing fruition?
We can, both you and I. Why? Because just as the Internet leveled the playing field when it appeared, Web 2.0 and social media are re-levelling that playing field allowing small businesses and solo entrepreneurs to compete with companies that have a larger presence in real life. Why?
Social media was created for and is about people, not businesses. It is about becoming an Influencer and a Thought Leader and winning the trust of people. And when you achieve that, which is possible through your expertise and authentic sharing of information and Paying It Forward, a blogger like Chris Brogan can become a New York Time’s bestselling author overnight. Well, it took Chris several years of blogging and community outreach to achieve that status, but, indeed, he has achieved the mighty status of a Trust Agent in which he writes about.
Sure, Toys R Us has a big brand name and can attract hundreds of thousands of people to their Facebook Fan Page in a few days, and that will be hard for any company to compete with. But Fortune 500 Companies have the most to lose because an Influencer can ruin their brand image overnight. Small businesses and solo entrepreneurs have the most to gain because we don’t have that legacy baggage which could weigh us down and sales can only increase. It is in this environment where something as trivial as a local taco truck can now become a nationally franchised operation simply by using social media as their platform to engage with their customers.
What does that mean for you and me? We are in the era of the Portfolio Career. You may want to dabble at monetizing your social media presence while working full time somewhere else, for instance. Whether you are in transition and trying to make ends meet, an entrepreneur with a passion and a great idea, or a small business that is truly providing value to their customers, through social media you can exponentially increase your reach and, with that over time, your sales.