THE BLOG
04/08/2013 02:27 pm ET Updated Jun 08, 2013

Three Ways to Make Money From Social Media

Many small businesses use social media as a marketing tactic, but they are confused about how to make money from it. According to Anatoly Nirshberg, CEO of ParadigmNEXT, the key is to "develop a business plan that outlines how you will generate revenue from social media activities on a consistent basis."  Nirschberg's Chicago-based startup works with tech-challenged companies to develop a web presence, leverage social media, and improve their SEO: "We help companies rebrand and update themselves. In essence, we help them make money from social media."

I discovered the value of social media monetization by working with a social media consultant on my energy start-up, PowerDown. After one year, the company was able to generate thousands of dollars for local charities and nonprofit organizations through energy savings from participants. We were able to expand our social media outreach to engage people from around the world, which ultimately gave us innovative tips for the competition. And all this was achieved by building up a Facebook following from my dorm room in Cambridge, Mass.

"This type of communication is so vital for any small business.  You get to meet talk to many different types of people without leaving your house," explained Nirschberg. ParadigmNEXT is considered an industry expert in social media monetization because it operates on a results-driven payment structure, where clients never pay upfront; rather, the company is compensated by the additional revenue streams they generate.

"My company's goal, much like any other social media expert consulting firm, is to establish a positive social media presence for our clients... which involves transforming their company website into an accurate sales representation, developing organic SEO, and building out their web content." In the process of developing a company's web presence, Nirschberg leads clients through a step-by-step process to generate revenue through social media, which is based around three principles: describing the company, how people can benefit from it, and why they're different.

1. Describe the company: "Have a tagline or an elevator pitch across all platforms that lets your target audience know what kind of work you do and how it will make their life better." Through a company's social media presence, it can strike up conversations with individuals and companies that share common interests, get exposure, and generally serve as the fastest way to establish web presence. "Companies build more relationships with buyers, consumers. distributors, and media outlets through social media than they could ever reach at trade shows and conferences," explained Nirschberg.

2. How people can benefit from it: "Once people are aware of what your company does, they need to know how they'll benefit by paying you for products or services." However, regardless of what your company does, it is imperative that a social media revenue model is in place. "Tweets, Facebook updates, likes and followers aren't enough," Nirschberg explained. "You must have a plan for making sales while building relationships with decision makers who will pay you." This plan involves a detail all expenses, goals and projections.

3. Why they're different: When people have a strong sense of what a company does and how they can benefit from their services, the company can begin to make money from social media. According to Nirschberg, "The key is to look for competitive advantages that separate your company and go above and beyond the scope of work. ... Stay current on social media marketing news, trends and events and share this information with clients so they know, like and trust your company. ... Social media is not a business model, but it can generate revenue if the company clearly has something to offer."