How to Monetize Social Networking - Part One

Recently I have been approached by two business people who wanted to know about using social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to promote their businesses.

Normally I would suggest that they build a following based on sending informative content that their potential clients are interested in. However, both of these individuals sell insurance, and feel that a lot of their potential clients really aren't all that interested in their topic.

Their is another way to build relationships via social networking.

Since almost every person who drives a car, owns a house or feeds a family has a need for the products they sell, practically EVERYONE is a potential client for these two agents.

But you can't really market intelligently to everyone in the world. A better strategy is to target a niche.

In real life, a business person might join social groups, volunteer for charitable work, or get involved in a group related to a hobby they enjoy.

I once knew a financial planner who was really involved in flying model airplanes. He joined several groups for similar hobbiests. He got involved, attended their events regularly and made friends. He also became a resource for other hobbiests who came to respect his knowledge and advice.

Because he made friends with people who had the same interests he had, it wasn't long before his new friends started coming to him for financial advice. This obviously led them to become clients.

Another financial planner I know is an avid deer hunter. He also joined several groups of deer hunters and outdoorsmen. He also formed several deer hunting excursions and made friends who also became clients.

The same thing can be done online with Twitter and other social media platforms. Facebook and LinkedIn both offer several groups you can join online. Once you've joined these groups, get involved. Be active. Share information and ideas.

Most of all, become a resource.

On Twitter, find a niche of people who would make good clients and who have a specific interest. Then go online and gather information these people want to learn about. Become a knowledgeable source of problem-solving content.

Armed with this information, you use Twitter to "tweet" about this information. Send out messages with links to this content you have gathered.

Gradually, you will make friends, build trust and credibility among the people you are targeting.

But that is not the final step. You still have to reel them in to your marketing funnel.

Now you need to create an email newsletter. In the case of my two insurance agent friends, I might suggest a "Money Tip of the Week" newsletter. Some of the people you have befriended will choose to opt in to your email list.

DO NOT just send out solicitation emails to the people you have met online who have not opted in to receive your emails. The word for this is spam. Don't do it. This will simply ruin your relationships.

You can send them an email that invites them to opt in to receive your "Tip of the Week" or to listen to a free teleseminar as a way to get them to subscribe.

There are a number of reasons not to spam. Spamming destroys whatever respect and credibility you have already built. But even more important, you are much better off targeting people who choose to opt in. These people have self-selected themselves to receive your information. That means they at least have some level of interest in what you do.

(For information on how to make this work for you, check out my updated ebook on email marketing).

As the people who have opted in receive your low-pressure, but educational emails, they will come to trust you more and will likely do business with you when their timing is right.

To sum up, use social media to create and build relationships, trust and credibility. Then invite them to subscribe to your email marketing system. Your emails will gradually give them more and more reasons to do business with you. When THEIR timing is right, they will let you know.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown

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