Yaneek Page | Earning from social media ‘likes’ and ‘follows’
These days the average young adult spends more time engaged with social media than any other social or economic activity, including work, sleep, and interaction with family.
It is estimated that individuals aged 18 to 36 years spend as much as 18 hours per day on social media, several hours of which are typically spent taking, editing and uploading videos and photos of themselves on Instagram and Snapchat.
Unfortunately, for many, social media ‘likes’ and followings are key measures of success, relevance and self-worth, despite the lack of tangible or bankable return on such incredible investment of time.
If the trend of excessive social media usage continues, it begs the question, what impact will this have on productivity at the micro and macro levels? This is particularly worrisome for Jamaica which is already lagging behind its major trading partners and contemporaries in productive output, yet also relies almost exclusively on untapped human capital to deliver sustained and substantial economic growth.
Simply put, Jamaica cannot afford a generation of youth investing most of their productive capacity in idle social media use.
MONETISING SOCIAL ‘LIKES’
However, there are several ways to turn online passions into profits, according to Digital Strategist and founder of technology company SiliconCaribe Media, Ingrid Riley, but doing so requires a dramatic change in how social medial platforms are viewed and used.
One of the most practical ways for people to earn from a large social media following is to position and brand themselves as digital influencers within a particular niche.
Riley highlighted four main opportunities for monetising one’s position as an individual influencer:
Paid Advertisements — where brand pay for ad campaigns on your blog, Instagram, snapchat and so on.
Product Placement — where companies, products, events or brands pay the influencer to wear, use, consumer or otherwise endorse and promote their product or service or event.
Paid Appearances — where influencers are invited to attend or cover events or experience facilities, etc and in some cases offer unique commentary or storylines based on personal experience.
Build Your Own Business — leveraging your online communities to grow an email database and build relationships that can be used to sell their own products, services and events.
STUDY THRIVING ACCOUNTS
Learning from others who have successfully leveraged their social media following in some of the ways listed above is critical to ascending the learning curve to monetisation of varied platforms, insisted Riley.
Instagram sensations @Chelan876, @QuitePerry, @DuttyBerry @oblessa, @mrkingstonbelle, @MajaHype, and @princemarni are some accounts she believes are worthy of review, as well as international blogger and consultant neilpatel (quicksprout).
One thing all the examples mentioned have in common is they are diligent producers of content. To the casual onlooker they may seem to be having fun doing what they love, be it comedy, fashion or business, but these individuals put incredible effort into building their brands and creating distinct, valuable and competitive content for their audience.
Interestingly, even the most diligent individual influencer may struggle financially because of underdeveloped or flawed business models and digital strategy. These are problems which Riley believes can easily be solved with professional advice and coaching. However relatively few people avail themselves of these resources.
MISTAKES TO AVOID
As with most endeavours, earning money from social media follows and likes is neither easy nor suited for everyone, and failure after investing considerable time and energy in developing content is highly probable.
Overnight successes are rare, despite commonly held views to the contrary. Some of the major mistakes to avoid according to the digital strategist are not treating the activity as a business, not doing adequate research, lack of consistency and patience, an inability to value one’s worth and poor negotiations skills.
In terms of the skills and characteristics needed to successful cash in on social media, at the top of Ingrid’s list is strong digital media and communication skills — specifically, the ability to write well, communicate clearly, generate captivating ideas, connect with the audience, photography, phoneography and videography.
Technical knowledge of how social platforms and social mobile apps work is also important. Finally, to earn from social media will require a strong spirit of innovation, experimentation and a willingness to quickly learn from likely failures.
The dynamic nature of social media also makes each platform unique, fickle and unpredictable, thereby requiring specialised and targeted content, constant listening and engagement, evaluation of feedback and results, and eagerness to change to better connect with the target audience.
- Yaneek Page is an entrepreneur and trainer, and creator/executive producer of The Innovators TV series.