Can Social Media Actually Make You Money?

social media book reviewsIf you’ve ever asked the question, “Can I make money with social media?“, you might have heard a variety of answers such as, “No!”, “Maybe” or “It depends.”

Rarely (if at all) have you heard the confident and unwavering response, “Yes, you can!

In their book, How to Make Money with Social Media—An Insider’s Guide on Using New and Emerging Media to Grow Your Business, Jamie Turner and Reshma Shah explain that there’s a big difference between people who make money with social media and people who don’t.

People who fail to make money with social media are those who never get their plan off the ground. They’re the ones who (among other things):

  • Don’t know how to set up a landing page
  • Don’t remarket to “customer prospects”
  • Don’t know how to turn a social media campaign into a sales campaign
  • Think they can do social media in ten minutes a day
  • Sit on the sidelines
  • And other faux pas

But people who make money are different. They set objectives, create a plan and execute the plan relentlessly.

And that’s what this book is all about—The Plan. You’ve heard the old adage, “People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” Well it’s true. And to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you, the authors provide a thorough, “no-wiggle-room” roadmap that will put you on the path to social media success.

Here’s what you should know about the book.

Authors’ Purpose

The goal of the authors is to teach you some innovative ways of using social media, in order to generate real revenue and profits for you and your company.

jamie turner

Jamie Turner

reshma shah

Reshma Shah

In this book, Jamie Turner and Reshma Shah explain that by following “the roadmap,” you can use social media effectively to grow your business and make money as well.

So whether you’re a small business owner, a regular business-to-business company or you run a huge division at a large global organization, the authors provide a practical plan to help you set up, launch and run a money-making social media campaign that will work specifically for you.

What to Expect

How to Make Money with Social Media

At 275 pages, this book is not meant to be read cover-to-cover in one sitting. It’s much too extensive for that. Fortunately it’s an easy read, has many interesting examples and lots of bullet points, and is therefore very skimmable.

The book starts with a brief history lesson on what advertising and marketing looked like before the Internet. It goes on to talk about how things have changed and where social media is going to take us in the future.

But the core of the book is literally a roadmap that starts by laying the groundwork for success, and on to measuring the only really important thing – money!

Also notable, toward the end of the book is a checklist of 59 things you need to do on your way to a successful social media campaign.

Some of the more interesting ideas that the authors introduce are:

  1. How to tell if your brand is a social media magnet
  2. How to use circular momentum to build your brand
  3. How to conduct a social media competitive assessment
  4. How to build new relationships with customers using augmented reality
  5. How to use different social media platforms to network, promote and share (they’re not the same!): Facebook is like a pub, LinkedIn is like a trade show, Twitter is like a cocktail party, YouTube is like Times Square on New Year’s Eve, MySpace is like Woodstock, and perhaps in their next edition, the authors will give us an analogy for Google+.

Key Highlights

For the most part, this book is rather elementary. But don’t write it off altogether, even if you’re a social media pro. There’s still a good chance that you might learn one or two cool things such as:

#1: How to Tell if Your Brand is a Social Media Magnet

A social media magnet is a brand that people want to be associated with. Big brands such as Nike, Apple and Harley-Davidson have no problem there.

The first step to acquiring social media magnetism is to use traditional media to drive people to your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn pages.

smirnoff ad

This Smirnoff ad prompts viewers to check out their Facebook page.

If you’re a small and underfunded brand, you’ll probably lean heavily on word-of-mouth marketing to promote your social media profiles.

The authors suggest that you ask yourself the following questions to figure out if your brand is a social media magnet:

  • Do people wear your logo on their sweatshirts?
  • Do people put bumper stickers with your logo on their cars?
  • Do people wear hats with your logo on them?

Obviously the vast majority of small business brands will answer “no” to most, if not all three, questions and the authors know this.

Their intention in asking these “trick questions” is not to shame you or make you feel like a loser, but to make the case that social media is about running a successful business, not about being social. They want you to know that by applying the lessons you learn from their book, you too will be on your way to running a successful business.

#2: How to Think About Social Media

Some people use social media platforms as if they were all exactly the same. What they need to know is that each platform is different and should be approached in a completely unique way.

Facebook is a casual space (like a pub), LinkedIn is a space where you talk strictly business (tradeshow), Twitter is a noisy place where you share helpful links to position you as an expert (cocktail party), YouTube is packed with people clamoring for attention (Times Square on New Year’s Eve) and MySpace… well, that’s history unless you’re a musician.

linkedin

On LinkedIn, it's important to focus on networking and to carry out professional conversations.

Your job is to review the parallels among these platforms and their analogies (i.e., pub, cocktail party, tradeshow and so forth), and share those parallels with people in your office so that they can get comfortable and figure out how to use each individual platform. Visit other people’s social media pages to see what they’re doing on their various platforms.

Also when reviewing the different platforms, keep in mind that some of them help you to network (LinkedIn), others help you to promote your brand (Facebook) and others help you to share content (Twitter and YouTube).

#3: How to Create Circular Momentum

Turner and Shah suggest that we’re all connected through six degrees of separation.

What that means in business parlance is that your product is linked to a lot more people than those who’ve had direct contact with it. So if people have had a negative experience with your brand, then word will get out very, very fast! This is called circular momentum.

Now, if you can create positive experiences for people using your social media channels, you’ll be able to leverage circular momentum to bring about a great outcome.

Equifax, for example, is a very conservative company. They realized the benefit in allowing fans to vent their frustrations on their Facebook page. After they vent, customers feel much better and Equifax then uses this opportunity to provide support and encouragement. As a result, their customer retention rates have improved by a huge margin, thus justifying their social media efforts.

#4: How to Use Augmented Reality to Generate Business Leads

Augmented reality (AR) is a phrase used to describe a direct or indirect view of the physical, real-world environment through a computer-generated sensory experience. Companies can use AR technology to build new relationships with customers and to persuade prospects.

Side note: You might have experimented with some AR apps on your iPhone; e.g., WorkSnug to identify nearby wi-fi hotspots, DishPointer if you’re into cabling and CarFinder if you can’t remember where you parked the car!

Businesses are also using AR in very interesting and innovative ways. IKEA in Germany for example uses AR to get prospects to try out new furniture right from their homes. Prospects can simply aim their web cam at the current furniture in their living room to see a stylish new piece of IKEA furniture superimposed over their old couch! Just think of how often you could virtually redecorate your house!

This video clip shows how IKEA uses augmented reality to get more customers:

#5: How to Conduct a Social Media Competitive Assessment for Your Business

You’re already familiar with how competition in business works. In the last few years, for example, we’ve seen Amazon grab the lion’s share of the book market, as Barnes & Noble and Borders battled each other for physical retail dominance. What they didn’t realize is that competitive shortsightedness can actually render a business extinct, as Borders later found out.

Today your competition is not just your direct competition, it is actually anyone who competes for your customers’ disposable income—more so now because of social media and the universal competition for consumers’ attention.

This makes social media competitive assessment very challenging.

At the very least, you want to figure out how your competitors are using social media so that you can analyze how to compete against them.

However, you might also want to deliberately place yourself on the competitive grid as far away from them as possible. So if your nearest competitor has hired a specialist to manage his social media networks on a frequent basis, you might decide that you’re only interested in a few channels, say only blogs, and that you will be relentless in that one area.

Personal Impressions

I don’t like the title, How to Make Money with Social Media. It sounds like a scam, and in any case the book doesn’t live up to it. However, the subtitle, An Insider’s Guide on Using New and Emerging Media to Grow Your Business, is a lot more accurate.

I also thought the book was rather elementary. Save for a few novel ideas, it might not be very interesting to the experienced social media marketer. Also, most case studies used are big-name companies. Small businesses will have a tough time relating with Coca Cola, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, IKEA, Colgate Palmolive and other industry giants.

That said, if there’s one social media book that executives and senior managers should read, it is this one. I believe they will be drawn to its interpretation of social media from a commercial perspective, and how social media activities tie to the bottom line.

This book serves as an important reminder that social media is only a means to an end to generate value for your organization. Ultimately you want to set up a social media campaign that is designed to make money. Everything else is just a stop along the way.

Social Media Examiner gives the book a 3.0 star rating.

Over to You

What social media strategies are you using to generate value for your company? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She is the Social Media Manager at US Pharmacopeia, a public standards setting organization. Follow her on Twitter at @predsicker. Other posts by »




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  • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

    Yep, good stuff. I think one key is that you have to have the right intentions. You can’t say, “I’m going to run a social media campaign to make some money.” You first need passion about what you’re doing and passion to help your audience. It’s all about serving others first, the money follows.

    But absolutely, a major issue is people who are in over their head, don’t completely understand how to succeed, or fail at creating a strategy or plan. Some of the failure to plan and set goals ultimately comes down to fear of failure — if they don’t set a goal, they can coast without “failing.”

    But I guess that’s a whole different conversation.

    Thanks for the knowledge!

  • http://www.directionstech.com.au/ April Neylan

    This is a really good article. Thanks!

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    I agree, Jon, it’s a good summary of my book, “How to Make Money with Social Media.” Thanks, Patricia!

    I think the key is to start by understanding concepts like Customer Lifetime Value and how it relates to ROI. Stay tuned — SME is going to have more posts on that topic in the coming weeks.

    Thanks!

    – Jamie

  • http://www.nearcoastmedia.com/ Matt Hamilton

    The advice I would give to anyone is if you love it then stick with it. I started my social media management business a few months ago and although it is going slowly, I have made money and it is possible. As with any business it will take a lot of work and a huge key to success is knowledge. The internet is full of great informative sources (like this site) to help someone get started and there’s also a lot of inexpensive ebooks that can help.

  • Cameron Sanchez

    Let me tell you the problem behind social marketing……You have everyone out there who reads these books and don’t have the first clue about “Marketing”, then they go out and hit the streets and convince some poor business owner that really wants to make the change and this person goes out and really does not make a difference for the business owner………….By the time I reach out to the business owner they have now had a bad experience and makes it 5 times harder for me to build that relationship…..
          
           SO AT THE END OF THE DAY…..IF YOU HAVE NO CLUE ABOUT MARKETING AND HAVE NO SKILLS WHEN IT COMES TO COMPUTERS, PLEASE FIND A NEW HUSTLE :)
           Cameron….Socialammo.com

  • http://www.dirtyseagulls.com/ Dirty Seagull

    Thanks a lot for the post. If you look at the success of old spice you can see social media has made them pot loads

  • http://www.gu9creative.com/ Roger P

    Very good ‘warts and all’ review Patricia of a book I haven’t yet read, but will now! Particularly enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t a blatant plug. Your penultimate paragraph is the key to it all for me and provides the acid test for budget stretched marketing departments.

  • predsicker

    Thank you for your comments Jon. 

    One of the most compelling aspects of this book is its emphasis on planning. I think as you say, people don’t always understand that the planning process is directly related to their success or failure and so I appreciate that the authors did a great job making this a key theme in the book.

    I like what you say about, ‘It’s all about serving others first, then the money follows’. One of my favorite authors – Ann Handley – often says, ‘serving is the new selling’. How true!

  • predsicker

    Thank you for writing a thought-provoking book Jamie. I look forward to your next one :)

  • predsicker

    Thanks so much April – glad you found it to be resourceful!

  • predsicker

    I couldn’t agree with you more Matt – thanks for that precious reminder that it is possible but it takes a lot of work and knowledge as well. Really glad to hear from business people like you who have put it to the test and can affirm that yes – you can indeed make money with social media. I would love to hear how you’re growing your business with social media. Would you be interested in sharing your story? 

  • predsicker

    Hi Cameron – thanks for your sincerity.

    I hear what you’re saying and I agree with you to some extent but I have a different take on it. 

    The purpose of these books is to educate us about social media marketing. Social media hasn’t been around that long that most business people have figured it out. And even those who’ve ‘figured it out’ could learn something new since this space changes so rapidly. 

    So books, seminars, coaching, networking and certainly trial and error are all part of the learning process. There’s bound to be mistakes made as we learn this thing because its relatively new, but learn we must! I think if “…you have no clue about marketing and no skills when it comes to computers”, you should go out and learn what you need to know! God knows theres no shortage of resources for those who want to learn. But I wouldn’t go so far as to discourage folks who have a real passion for this thing and tell them to find a new gig. We all have to start somewhere don’t we?

    I like your passion on this subject :)

  • predsicker

    Absolutely – Old Spice is certainly a great example!

  • predsicker

    I just learned a new word – ‘penultimate’ – thank you Roger :) And I’m so glad that you enjoyed the review and will pick up the book. My goal is to give you an objective review and as much information as you need to make up your own mind whether you should invest in a book or not. Thanks for your kind comments.

  • http://www.nearcoastmedia.com/ Matt Hamilton

    Thanks Patricia, I would definitely love to share my story.

  • dianehochman

    I so encourage everyone to check out the book and YES..you can make money with social media in so many different ways.  I got into social media early on and really worked it and over the last few years I have created total authority within my industry due to the social media channels that I used and my highly increased exposure to the marketplace. 

    I can not recommend mastering social media enough to small business owners as a way to create business, create massive retention and reorders among your customers and a way to attract joint venture partners that can take your business to a whole new level.

    Great post and great points about why people struggle.

  • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

    I look forward to it!

  • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

    Thanks for the heads up on Ann’s book. I’ll have to check it out!

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  • predsicker

    Jon, so sorry that I miscommunicated. ‘serving is the new selling’ is not a book – it’s just something I’ve heard her say several times :)

  • predsicker

    Cool – let’s connect on Twitter!

  • predsicker

    Thanks so much Diane – really great to hear your perspective on this topic. Congratulations on your success with social media marketing!

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    Hi, Jon and Patricia –

    Thanks for asking about the next book. It’s actually out — “Go Mobile” was just released by John Wiley & Sons a few weeks ago. It’s available everywhere.

    Thanks for asking!

    Best,
    Jamie

  • http://www.60SecondMarketer.com Jamie Turner

    I agree about the success of the Old Spice campaign. In fact, sales increased 105% vs. the same month the year before during its height of popularity.

    It’s a great success story.

  • http://www.i95dev.com/ecommerce-magento Henry Louis

    Hi Patricia! Well explained. Good stuff in this post. I like this post. Keep updating.

  • http://girlseeksplace.wordpress.com/ Brianna

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely look into getting this book.

  • http://twitter.com/listingengine Matteo Pantalone

    Thanks for the detailed review of “How to Make money with social media”. I’ve bought my copy and hope to learn something new to relay to my students.

  • predsicker

    Thanks Brianna!

  • predsicker

    Thanks Matteo – Glad to hear you picked up the book. You’ll definitely find plenty of good tips to share with your students!

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  • http://www.maxwelllegal.com/ Maxwell Law Firm

    thanks for sharing that is an excellent tip

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  • Invent Promote Manage

    Yes, making money.  Our firm manages all aspects of digital marketing with social media being a huge component.  More and more of my clients are beginning to shift their spend to social media.

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  • http://usocial.net/ Penelope Carrington

    The more I read articles of such quality as this (which is rare), the more I think there could be a future for the Internet. We have learned that quality is much better than quantity. In our business, network marketing industry, the key to building a successful community is through relationship building and servant leadership.  Making money online is actually a lot of work for people who are not used in the field of working online, that’s why they give up easily. I find these tips really useful for professional and non-professional people who’s on the line of online money making. I agree that you have to use Social Networking Sites as a strategy and take advantage of the things you can do with it so that your business would sell more highly. If you do it right, Social Media is not only a way for you to build a massive community, however, you have the ability to positively impact thousands of people’s lives in the process! 

  • Iresh

    Publication Date of this book is September 30, 2010, more than a year. So is this not outdated ?. The theory of SMM may still valid but there were some many big changes in the social media industry in the previous year (ex: Google+) . No Offence :)

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  • http://www.kmidigital.com/ Keith McMean

    Tell you what I really like about this post and the conversations that followed, not only some great advice for the beginner but something that really gets me stirred up :)
    The first thing, or at least one of them, should be when someone replies to a post that you have written, reply back even if its only to thank them, tell them something different, anything, the ‘social’ in social media is the most important thing. Remember its not about you but about THEM.
    So often you look at some of the ‘big guns’ in social media and you read their posts and there can sometimes be hundreds of comments, do they go on to their own blogs and reply? Not with any real consistency. Now I know they are busy, aren’t we all, but come on interaction is a fantastic thing and it can lead to getting started earning the money you want.
    I also agree with Jon right at the top of the comments, if you are in this just for the money think about a new strategy as this is a long game. Be prepared to have ups and downs but be tenacious and above all don’t chase the money.
    Great post and great to see you here replying Patricia :)
    Rant over :)







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