How to Monetize with Social Networking: YUP-- Make Money

Written by Robin WildingMarch 24, 2011

First social networks were fun. Then they were a public relations tool for businesses. Later they became customer service outlets. And finally, they were monetized. Finally there are ways to actually make money from the endless hours spent on the endless array of social networking sites.

Sell Ad Space

The first and most obvious way to monetize a social site is with ads. This is not as herculean a task as it sounds; to begin simply create your own social networking site. There are plenty of tools available to help you do this, including Ning, Joomla, Boonex, and SocialGo. The most common, Ning, was created to be an out-of-the-box solution and requires little to no technical know-how. There is a $24.95 a month fee for the hosting which can be gained back via ad campaigns. The instructions on putting the site together are step by step and can be done by anyone with some web 2.0 knowledge.

The most successful way to sell ads is to create a niche social networking site on a topic that interests you. If you are a knitter, create a social networking site around knitting. Come up with a clever name to attract attention, something like ´Too Legit to Knit´, and then invite your friends. Niche sites easily attract traffic that interact with one another regularly.

From there selling the ad space is simple as it is vertical marketing. Approach companies within the vertical like yarn resellers, knitting pattern websites, and national knitting associations.  If contacting specific vendors seems too daunting then you can always use Google´s AdSense to create the ads automatically for you; be aware though that the revenue potential is smaller.

SocialGo is similarly priced but gives you the option to use their software on your own domain name, which is better if you already have a website in place. If you are a go-big-or-go-home kind of person then you can try Boonex´s solution as it offers richer features for your social networking site, including video chats, but it also requires greater server resources. If you have little to no technical experience then stick with Ning as it is super simple.

Sell Your Influence

If you have successfully built up a large interactive social network by dedicating tens of thousands of man-hours to social networking then consider selling your influence. If you have a high Klout score (go to to find out) then you can sell that influence with companies looking to expand their social reach.

Most often this is done with companies looking to reach out to a certain demographic. If you are a stay at home mom for example there are tones of companies selling children´s products that look for socially influential mothers to Tweet and post about their products. Figure out what your vertical is then approach companies that could leverage your Klout score.

Revenue Sharing and Referral Programs

Another way to more directly sell your social influence is by joining social networking sites that offer revenue sharing and referral programs. With all the aspiring social networks out there it is stiff competition, and in order to get the edge on their competition many social networks are willing to pay you for promoting their network. Here are just a few examples of some of the networks out there:

MyLot is a social networking platform to share news, photos, videos, articles, and more. This established social network has been around a while and has an established referral program. By simply getting your friends to join their network of over 150,000 users you can earn cash. This business seemingly copied the Mary Kay referral program because as a bonus, you will make additional money from anyone you refer who refers others.

Yuwie is similar to MyLot but this one pays based on page views as well as referrals. The more content you share with your friends the more money you make. Similarly to MyLot you also make money based on the activity of your referrals (and your referral´s referrals).

This social network is a little different as it pays its users based on Google´s AdSense model. You earn 50% of the AdSense revenue earned by the site for your page views and referrals. To learn more about how AdSense works click here. If you are a social networker with a heart of gold you can also donate the money directly to charities like GreenPeace and the RedCross.

Social Networking Entrepreneur

If your ability to rapidly expand your reach within social communities is your talent then consider becoming a community manager or social networking startup. Many businesses and entrepreneurs are too overloaded with work to spend time grooming their company´s social status. There are many job boards that advertise for social networking community managers, including Craigslist.

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