Making Money as a Social Media Expert

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn…some of the most popular websites on the Internet, websites that gobble up so much bandwidth and traffic, the mind boggles (at least mine does). And while these sites are great for getting in touch with old friends or watching funny videos, there is one use that not many people know about: making money.

You probably already have a Facebook account with photos of your latest trip to Cabo. I know in my case, Facebook is the way I keep in touch with family and friends as I travel through Costa Rica during my time here. It’s the best way to share photos and videos of my family’s experiences.

You might also be on LinkedIn for networking or have tossed a few movies on YouTube in the hopes of them going viral.

If so, consider yourself a social media “expert,” at least enough of one that, with a few tips from me today, you can start charging clients money to manage their social presence.

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See, most companies don’t view Facebook, Twitter, and company as profitable media platforms.

Most marketers are somewhat knowledgeable about social media: they have a Facebook account, they browse YouTube, but they are still a LONG way from understanding the true profit potential of social media. But they can’t comprehend how one can harness that huge swell of users to their advantage.

That’s where you – as a social media expert – can help. And turn a tidy profit.

Another thing to remember is that with the advent of smart phones, more and more people are accessing social media sites from their phones. No longer is your audience limited to those with computers. Social media is now mobile. And your potential for profit just grows and grows.

Why You Need To Become a Social Media Expert NOW

The truth is, the demand for social media experts is strong right now. And it doesn’t take a Zuckerberg-like IQ to realize that in the years to come, even more companies – thousands of them – will awaken to how important and integrated social media has become in the lives of each and every consumer. If you start on the road to social media expertise now, you’ll cash in now and be in the perfect position when companies come calling. And call they will, and with nice, fat checks.

If you’re already a freelance copywriter, web designer, or marketer and you work online, adding social media expertise is an easy additional stream of revenue for you. Follow the guidelines I’m about to show you, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the years to come, your social media expert freelancing outpaces all your other work combined.

If not, like I said, just being a frequent social media user is qualification enough to get started – so follow along too.

Using Social Media to Market Your Services

The best way to find clients for your social media services is to market yourself on, you guessed it, social media sites. My advice is to create Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts, if you haven’t already. Customize them with pictures of yourself. Interact daily.

On your Twitter account, for example, include a photo of yourself and send tweets not just business-related; throw in a humorous thought or two or retweet something a comedian you follow tweeted. Engage your readers by including forums and other platforms for feedback.

LinkedIn is the perfect way to market yourself as everybody on there is in business and actively networking with other professionals. Join groups dedicated to social media – there are plenty. And connect with other social media experts. You never know which “link” could lead to a paying gig.

On Facebook be sure to announce your new social media consulting services. Post articles and links to industry publications to build your credibility. Again, you never know which “friend” could have a friend who needs your services.

Make your profiles professional but fun. Remember, when companies start coming to you for your social media expertise, their first vetting strategy will be to visit your social media profiles. Invest your profiles with enough detail to demonstrate you know how to get the most out of each individual social media site. Using a picture of yourself, shoulders up, will instantly create a connection to any potential client.

Create a feeling of community and communication. You should also set up a website advertising your services. But instead of having your home website be a brochure of your services, present it like a blog. Comment on industry trends, give your opinion on new online tools… but also share personal stories from your own life that may have nothing to do with your freelance services. Trouble with a new puppy chewing your sofa? Write a blog about it. Add some photos of your poor, mangled couch. This will make you stand out to potential clients.

You can also market yourself more directly by scanning elance.com and other job boards for social media jobs. Company websites are another great place to find open positions. Write an email to each potential employer with links to all your social media profiles. Explain why you should get the job.

Marketing with Social Media

First thing’s first: if your clients haven’t already, sign them up for accounts with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.

These are the four big dogs in the social media game. There are others – heaps of others, in fact – but these four are the foundation every social media expert must build from.

Take time to customize your client’s profile on each one. And if possible, make the accounts similar across each platform. Use the same colors, images, and username. This will help create a “brand” for the business. Branding creates trust and followers. And this is a very valuable commodity one can’t simply buy.

Say your client already runs a relatively successful online business selling fitness videos. They may very well question the value of creating four different profiles on these social media sites. Wouldn’t that just take attention away from their bread and butter, their fitness video website?

Well, the answer is yes and no. By having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+, you will undoubtedly find the occasional customer who finds the social media profiles you’ve created and stop right there, never reaching the website and making a purchase.

But if their presence on those social media websites is presented dynamically and leaves the potential customer interested for more and you have the URL of your client’s main website prominently displayed, the vast majority of folks who find the Twitter account, say, or the Facebook profile, will click through to the fitness video website. And once they are there, that’s when sales begin to double, triple, and quadruple.

I like to think of social media as a net. The more accounts you have, the wider your net.

So what do you post for your clients?

Company news, special offers, coupons, product launches, testimonials, personal stories… basically anything that is of interest to customers and will keep them engaged. The goal with social media is to connect with prospects. And to do that you can’t just sell, sell, sell. That’s the ultimate goal, of course. But you have to build a relationship first.

I recently had a look at Chick-Fil-A’s Facebook page. They currently have 5,044,493 likes. Not only that, but by using FBML, Facebook has made it possible for consumers to find the restaurant closest to them, browse the menu, watch fun videos (not commercials), and more!

This just goes to show you that by using social media sites in a creative and dynamic way, a large corporation like Chick-Fil-A has not only increased its web-presence, it has shown a side of the company they couldn’t show anywhere else. And you know what? After looking at their site, I’m suddenly craving a delicious chicken sandwich, with a side of waffle fries.

Now let’s get back to that fictional fitness website where they sell videos and how you can use YouTube to boost their sales. Create a short (2 or 3 minutes is plenty) video that showcases some of the workouts they demonstrate in their full priced videos. Keep it short but still give enough information to leave the consumer wanting more.

Here are a few recommendations to get a large number of viewers: name your video something generic, such as “TOTAL BODY FITNESS”. When someone is browsing YouTube looking for workout techniques, a video title like that is broad enough to bring in many people, but specific enough to target those people who are committed enough to go the extra step and purchase a video through the website.

Speaking of which, be sure to prominently display that websites URL both in the video and the description. Making it as easy as possible for people to find the website is crucial.

The advent of social media has drastically changed consumer-business relations. We now have the ability to communicate directly to the consumer and vice versa. For a corporation or small business hoping to take advantage of social media and improve its image, social media communication is vital.

And that means plenty of opportunity for you to profit. I’ve provided you with some tips to get started as a social media consultant. But I couldn’t possibly give you all you need to know. So be sure to check out the resources below. And start going online whenever you get a chance and read about this industry to learn the latest techniques and best practices. The best way to learn, though, is to just do it.

Be active on your own social media profiles. Pick up some small local clients or manage the accounts of business owners you know for free. This will give you experience and something to put on your resume.

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Best of luck!

John Hollister

PS. I’ve just given you the strategies and knowledge to becoming a social media expert, but here are a few resources to bolster your knowledge and help you on the road to success.

Resources

The Top Social Media Sites

www.facebook.com

www.twitter.com

www.linkedin.com

www.google.com

www.youtube.com

Starting Out as a Social Media Consultant

http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-expert_b21173

http://blogs.denverpost.com/techknowbytes/2012/04/27/startup-spotlight-social-media-expert-helps-return-chick-fila/4404/

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/everyone-should-hire-social-media-experts

http://www.business2community.com/social-media/building-your-internal-social-media-expert-team-0157372

http://www.digiday.com/brands/confessions-of-a-brand-social-media-manager/

Finding Gigs

www.elance.com

www.socialmediajobs.com


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