Most people ask the wrong questions when talking with marketers: “How can you make money off social networks?”
The value is placed on social networks such as MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, LinkedIn, Mixx, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Twitter and Flikr, while ignoring the real reason these networks were setup and how you can use those ideas to help your business
The top social networking websites which are Myspace, Orkut and Friendster were founded as a way to stay in touch with friends and family and to meet new people online that all share the same ideas. LinkedIn has a similar slant – it is great for entrepreneurs and professionals who want to keep track of their contacts for hiring / outsourcing. Flicker is just a blindingly simple tool for sharing photos.
The success of social networks marks a dynamic shift in how people are using the Internet. We have evolved from just searching for information to creating and participating in social spaces with other individuals through the Internet. This model is based upon the hive mentality where people identify themselves as part of a group with similar likes and interests that draw them together.
Social networks make viral marketing and word-of-mouth marketing much easier than before. The best use of social networks is not to make money ‘directly’ off them, but to harness their marketing potential and to use them to market your own business. The best way to do that is to optimize your website (including the process of link building) for your target keywords.
Online social networks present an efficient platform for you to use in the spread of your marketing message. In addition, they are also a great tool for getting tons of visitors and thousands of page views to your site.
What this all means is that you need to devote more of your attention towards how you can leverage the traffic you do receive from these sources. To do that, you should allow your visitors to create their own social network centered on your niche topic. The power of this cannot be missed since social networks allow for multiple points of connections between almost anyone on Earth, giving them the ability to find, share, enjoy, and track anything and everything that tickles their fancy.
Social network marketing works in the exact same fashion, except people choose to provide your link without being asked to do so, and places like del.ici.ous, Digg, Blogpulse, and Technorati give them the ability to do that. In offline terms, that means turning towards your friends and family to ask for their opinions. Online, it means turning towards a group of trusted people whose opinions and recommendations you value.
In fact, in lots of cases, you’ve probably done some research on your own, using the traditional search engine marketing model and then turned to a social network that you’re a part of to validate your findings and complete your research by getting their experiences and opinions about the topic. This is social network marketing at work in its purest form.
Online social networks provide the platform needed to speak out (if they are so inclined) or to simply watch the conversations as they happen.