How businesses can use content to make social media profitable

Social media isn’t just a way of communicating with your followers – put the work in and it can be a profitable tool

Estimates vary, but with some predicting 26% of traffic to websites comes from social sources (making it the biggest single source behind direct) there’s no doubt about its importance in spreading brand loyalty and promoting content.

If only there were some way to make all this traffic profitable…

But perhaps there is! Brands are increasingly finding innovative ways to immerse themselves in social media’s manifold sponsorship and advertising opportunities.

Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube all have long-established and highly profitable AdSense opportunities. Facebook, already a hive of sponsored content, is expanding its video monetisation selection too.

It’s time for brands to jump on board.

Challenges ahead

There’s an obvious problem in extolling the financial possibilities of social media: the biggest channels keep putting their foot in it.

Facebook, up to now the biggest source of referral traffic for businesses, has seemingly surrendered its dominance via algorithmic alterations. So far, users have reduced their time on the site by 5% compared with its level before the changes. That’s 50 million hours less screen time to profit from every day.

Furthermore, some of the more trailblazing monetisation options available to businesses have been hit by teething troubles.

While ad revenues on platforms such as Snapchat and Twitter are well established, this involved delving into the murky world of online advertising and placing brands at the platform’s mercy.

YouTube’s ‘adpocalypse’ highlights the problem with the balance of power being skewed so firmly in favour of the platform, while the up-and-coming Facebook Watch platform has been criticised for its vague and untargeted analytics.

Nevertheless, brands are still upbeat about the possibilities presented by social media. For example, the rising fortunes of on-demand features have prompted media companies such as Nine to look more seriously at the possibilities of offering premium content. Can B2B publishers do the same?

How to do it

For B2B content, the starting point must be to think about the bonuses of social media that are difficult to acquire anywhere else. Whether your biggest audience is on Facebook, LinkedIn or even Instagram, bear in mind you have a ready-made set of followers at your disposal who have opted-in to receive and engage with your content.

Just as catering to closed audiences can open up a world of marketing opportunities, delving into sponsored and premium content on a B2B social media channel can be useful for advantageously positioned brands.

For a company like Nine with a disparate following, dabbling with premium content requires a leap of faith as the monetary returns from putting up barriers are uncertain.

But channelling highly researched evergreen content to a specific audience on a site like LinkedIn – a natural home for corporate content – is a more secure basis for ROI from the outset. An associated benefit is the opportunity to boost engagement around content, which can lead to a range of other sponsorship opportunities such as surveys and research papers.

Additionally, some formats are ripe for monetisation in a B2B context. In addition to eBooks and white papers, partnering with brands to produce videos and webinars can be a highly effective (and highly profitable) way of using social media to communicate a message.

Video content should evolve as a money-spinner as Facebook joins the likes of Twitter and Snapchat by introducing ads to its videos, while webinars are a well-established tactic in the B2B realm.

The latter’s traction is sure to grow as more social channels implement live content capabilities to facilitate interactivity. With Facebook set to spare brands using live content from the brunt of its news feed changes, it’s a no-brainer for your social media strategy.

With a bit of a nudge on the commercial end, social media can act as a forum where brands and content creators connect to the financial advantage of both. Why persevere with a limp LinkedIn or flaccid Facebook offering when you can put your social media to work? Monetise today!

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