Intro to Networked Collaboration

Social Media as a Business

So far, we’ve explored Jumpcut, Seesmic, Blogging, Twitter, Flickr, Delicous and Second Life. They are all great platforms and you can get quite addicted to each of them. But it makes me wonder how one actually uses these platforms for marketing and as a full-time business. On twitter, I see quite a few people with profiles that say they are professional bloggers and one guy is the CEO of a social media company and owns several websites. How does one seriously make enough money (or any money) off these networks to do it fulltime?

I  am especially curious about Social Media Agencies. What do they do? HOw does one qualify to work there? Do you have to be a fulltime facebooker, myspacer, blogger, tweeter, seesmic-er?


November 12, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. This is a great thread to start. I know a few agencies like Citizen Agency or Communispace who have built some pretty innovative social media social network solutions for clients over the last few years. For me, the social media support an existing business well. For example, at one of my jobs, we arranged webinars for clients so we could get some of our experts to opine on important topics in the industry. We eventually got 100s of customers to take time out of the day to tune in once we hit on the right topics. That cost us nothing, but it was a great way to put our name and brand out there as a resource for information for them. I think social engagement in networks will also eventually present new ways for certain kinds of businesses to sell more stuff. Colleagues of mine are experimenting with Learning Communities as ways to extend publishing brands into the social media. We’re also working with a retailer about how to do it for permission based marketing like catalog sales. In general I think most people playing in social media have a consultancy, design practice or another business that generates multiple revenue streams for them. They are real lucky if they get revenue from impressions delivered from the blog beyond enough to buy postage stamps and toner once in a while. Eventually, though we will learn how to use these tools better and I am sure some great businesses that exist offline will learn to extend into online with social media, and some are already emerging that never could have existed off line.

    Comment by brettbarndt | November 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. There are already quite a few agencies that specialize in creating strategies for building online and transmedia presence. And if you think they are not making money doing so, guess again.

    A couple of the big ones are Morpheus Media and Deep Focus.

    Morpheus Media cites “social media optimization consultation” and “emerging media strategy & consulting” as some of their services, and they have clients like the New York Times and A&E. Deep Focus serves up solutions for clients like Universal, Miramax and Sony/BMG.

    I’d say that, yes, you’d have to pretty much be immersed in social media and online full-time in order to do this kind of thing, but not only that, it’s also about spotting emerging trends and being able to leverage those platforms to build a vision and a buzz, so to speak.

    Comment by funksoup | November 20, 2008 | Reply

  3. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is advertising. The Professional Bloggers I’ve encountered participated on a simple blog like you or I could start up with little hassle, and happened to be touching upon content that picked up a lot of hits by surfers. Advertising companies then approached them to promote similar products, and as long as people kept visiting the blog and seeing those advertisements, the blogger kept getting paid.

    Also, what I have found personally inspiring for my own business is how so many online tools and resources are complimentary but add value to a company. They may not get immediate purchases, but free services reel-in consumers and build positive relationships. For example, on the site I’m about to release I will offer complimentary information, guides, and tools on sustainable agriculture and organic farming. I could charge people to view the video tutorials, but it is smarter in the long run (and more socially sound) to offer these tools for free. However I will advertise for our book resources and DVD’s in gift packages of similar and more in-depth products on the same pages. Also, by offering these sources which will be easy to navigate and free, customers are more inclined to travel through my site and see other products or causes we sponsor. By enjoying the website and what it offers, a lasting positive impression of our business is left with the user and they are more likely to remember us and come back to visit/purchase.

    Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed when realizing that today’s markets are about combinations and only seem to become more and more intricate as consumers gain intelligence. I feel that providing content as a service online whether charging or not is an additive to the value of a company. I’ve also noticed that requiring memberships or charging a fee scares potential customers away who will simply look elsewhere online.

    Bottom line, a solid and engaging online presence has become an additional requirement for successful business nowadays.

    Comment by kelboa | November 27, 2008 | Reply

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