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Haris Cajic - 01.08.2018

Monetizing Digital Channels

During Sagepath’s 2017 Digital Summit, the topic of monetizing digital channels was explored in detail by experts from several large businesses currently undergoing digital transformation. Naturally, the topic of social channels was brought up. In particular, the difficulty of monetizing social was echoed several times. We all hear stories of the massive potential of these channels, but how exactly are businesses turning a profit on social?

One of the biggest reasons businesses fail on social is a lack of strategy. Many will jump in headfirst without much thought. They fall prey to the idea that businesses need to have a presence across the entire social spectrum. We see it all the time, a Facebook business page, once active, now sitting abandoned without a single post in months. The fact is, unless you develop a plan for monetizing and scaling a social account like Facebook, you will only end up wasting time and money.

So, what’s an eager business to do? First, understand that not every social channel is right for your business. For example, if you are a manufacturer of industrial sewage cleaning supplies, you probably don’t need a Pinterest account. Even Facebook, with its copious audience marketing capabilities, may not be right for you. Understanding who your audience is and where they gather is paramount for selecting which social channels to pursue.

Even when you’ve successfully identified which social channels your audience uses, you are probably not out of the woods yet. People hate being advertised to online. No one goes on Instagram to find deals on electronics, or any product you may be promoting for that matter. Businesses must not only target extremely relevant traffic, but also blend in with their surroundings. Red Bull is an excellent example of social marketing done right. Their videos are eye-catching, action-packed, and just plain cool. People want to share them organically on their feeds.

If you lack creativity, or your content is dry, then you can still find ways to be successful on social. One way by which businesses can monetize social is by providing value. Social channels provide easy methods for nurturing potential customers. Neil Patel, a world-renowned digital marketer, uses Facebook ads to promote free video training, guides and checklists for his target audience in exchange for an email address. He continues to provide free materials via email for weeks before pushing even one promotional product on the potential customer. 

One question that is often brought up is if only B2C businesses can succeed on social. While B2C businesses have a much easier time on social, don’t throw in the towel just yet if you are primarily in the B2B space. There are many roads to monetization.

If you are in the B2C space, you will have an easier time connecting with people on social networks compared to other businesses. Social networks like Facebook collect a large amount of data on their users, much of which is centered around people’s personal lives. For example, a bridal company can advertise on Facebook to women who earn at least 50k a year and have recently announced they were engaged. Now if only Facebook would allow CMOs to change their status to “currently sending out RFPs” then we would be in business! All joking aside, you can begin to see why certain businesses will have an advantage on Facebook.

Businesses in the B2B space can monetize their social channels, but it will take some work. Audience targeting is the name of the game. While you can attempt to target relevant traffic through the audience targeting that exists on social networks, you may be better off using your own data. You can utilize leads lists from software such as Marketo or SalesForce to power remarketing campaigns across social. Remember that social doesn’t have to be a silo and can serve as a part of a larger, more finely-tuned funnel. Ultimately, B2B businesses may have to spend more resources on discovering which tactics will work best for them.

Whether you use social for directly advertising to potential customers, nurturing an audience over time, or as a stepping stone in a larger funnel, there are many roads to monetization. No matter which route you take, the first and most important step is to craft a robust strategy. By focusing on the most relevant social channels and targeting the right demographics with valuable content, your business can become one of the many success stories of social monetization.