How To Monetize Social Media: The Right Way

Websites like Sponsored Tweets and Ad.Ly were created with the hope that famous and popular social media users will be willing to start sponsored conversations online. And with clients such Kendra Wilkinson and Kim Kardashian ready to spread any advertiser’s message for the right price, participating in social media has finally become profitable. Even Google has began to monetize YouTube for users, gradually accepting popular users and companies into their advertising AdSense program that runs Google ads over streaming videos. Users posting videos that Google runs ads with receive a profit for every click (view), just like web content owners receive revenue when users click AdSense ads on their websites.

These social media advertisers (and others) are doing their best to create an open and honest ad network that labels ads as ads, with messaging never appearing to be a personal thought or experience of the person who is saying it. Sponsored Tweets goes so far as to offer a price list for many of their sponsored tweeting celebrities including Bob Vila ($2941.25) and Holly Madison ($2500).

To be a successful user of sponsored messages on social media while still keeping your fan or follower count high, make sure that you are first and foremost a quality provider of information. It is important to remember that high ethics, value and transparency are what make many of these services so successful.

Total publisher control

Publishers (users) who are placing sponsored messages on their social media accounts need to have total control of the content is being placed on their profiles. Otherwise, the privilege tends to be abused and other users may flag it as spam. If an account is flagged enough, Twitter (or Facebook) will usually suspend the account. Most sponsored advertising usually allow publishers to approve or deny requests from advertisers to sponsor a link on their account, along with setting their own price and what they can say in the tweet. When deciding whether or not to post a sponsored message on your social media account, think about your audience—would they be interested in the message and be willing to click on it? Chances are, followers of Kim Kardashian would be more willing to click on “affordable handbags” than “reduced prescriptions.” A good rule of thumb is to only sponsor ads that you would click on yourself.

Additionally, the “pay-per-click” method in sponsored social media is traditionally looked down upon, as it usually depends on message saturation in order to be profitable. While some advertisements may garnish respectable profits from this payment method, flat sponsorship per tweet or for a certain time period is usually the most legitimate (and profitable) way to make money using sponsored social media services.

Full disclosure is crucial

Many sponsored social media advertising services are committed to a high standard of ethics. Magpie follows the Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s Ethics Code, which focuses on trust, integrity, honesty, respect and privacy while advertising. Providing full disclosure that each ad is in fact sponsored and not an original thought on behalf of the user helps create transparency. For example, Ad.Ly has the blurb “(Ad by Ad.Ly)” at the end of all their sponsored tweets. If you are using another service besides Ad.Ly, it is best to preface your sponsored message with the words “advertisement” or “paid sponsor.” This will clearly indicate that you are getting paid for posting this information, eliminating any unclear signals that you stumbled upon this link. Avoid sponsored services that encourage you to make advertisements seem like you wrote the message yourself (eg. “Hey guys! I just found this totally cool sale on handbags!”)

Easy tracking

In addition to dashboards that allow advertisers and publishers to choose appropriate partners, many websites like Twittad and Sponsored Tweets also provide statistics about a publisher’s tweets, including estimated cost per follower (eg. If an advertiser pays $1200 for a tweet from a publisher that has 10,000 followers, the cost-per-follower would be 12 cents. Other statistics that some sponsored social media sites offer are click-through-rate, how many sponsored tweets a publisher has completed, and a list of previous clients. On the other end, this can help you realize your influence and if your audience is actually clicking on sponsored messages. If your sponsored messages aren’t netting you much revenue (if they are based on a pay-per-click method) and you are losing fans or followers in the process, change the types of ads you are posting or try another service.

Social media advertising is inevitable

Using advertising to monetize the online communication stream is the next logical step in the evolution of social media. Advertisers are an integral part of these types of websites/services to keep membership free. While some may believe that sponsored “thoughts” in the social media mainstream cheapens the authenticity of instant reactions and thoughts from the world’s population, others appreciate the fact that time spent doing something they love can earn them money. Staying open and honest about the advertising you do decide to post on your social media profiles will help your audience continue to respect your online presence.

And finally, over-saturation of advertising on any communication medium isn’t appreciated. Try to keep the ratio of original to sponsored social media posts to at least 4:1 (or more), and make your original posts worth the time it takes to read (and click on) the sponsored ones.

Further reading:

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | How To: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing


About The Author: runs her own social media and search marketing business, MoxieDot, where she helps clients grow their online presence. She was voted one of the top 100 marketers of the year by Invesp in 2009 and has worked for Yelp,, and Bounty Towels.

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