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Quick Notes on Social Dev Camp: Where’s the $ and sense in social media?

My quick notes are the thoughts I write down during a session at conferences. They might seem a little disjointed, but it’s the fastest way to get my thoughts online.

The general question is “How can we make money with Social Media?” The leader of the talk is Sean Gallagher of of The Packet Rat.

An interesting thought. Any any point, there are a minimum of five billion information sources on the planet. How can you be a sustainable information source with so many out there? That’s only step one. Step two is staying in business.

Tip jars seem to be a popular topic here. Or tip jars that are disguised as something else. Disguised as a credits” or micropayment system. This is how Barack Obama raised so much darn money. This is also how public radio and TV stays in business. Of course, you need to have an established community that thinks that you are worth supporting for this.

A membership or subscription method seems to work to draw in more business. Also think about giving something away regularly and also release paid content along side it. This will draw people in who want the free things and supplement their free “purchase” with additional content. This works in the gaming industry.

How do you drive up enthusiasm outside of the base? The UGC model works inside the base, but you need more excitement to bring in people outside the base. You have to link in to the participatory community. Online networks seem to be a way to drive excitement about offline events, which in turn create publicity for the online sites/markets/products.

What’s going to get critical mass and get revenue? You have to think about your users when thinking about social networks. When people are at work, an IT department might be blocking usage. Who you partner with can make a difference based on your target audience. Figuring out an ROI upfront about choosing your network or sites is nearly impossible. An idea was to ask your customers “how do you want to be monetized?” Take those results with a grain of salt. Microsoft listened to what people requested with Vista. Look at the end result.

When you have a cover charge to get in, you’ll know your audience a bit more. Paying to get into forums or member benefits seems to work with a large enough audience. But I think that nearly anything will work with a rabid enough audience.

Does ANYONE make money using crowd sourcing? Mechanical Turk from Amazon maybe, but all the other companies that are relying on it seem to be dead or dying. That might be a lack of marketing capability by the companies. Before applying crowd sourcing, make sure that it’s solving a problem that you actually have. Use a tool to fix a problem.

Regardless of your site, a blended approach is the way to go. It works well for LinkedIn by forming partnerships, advertising, paying to enter, a pro model, etc. Of course, this is hinging on you having a community that’s willing to give money or time over in one form or another.

Other notes:

  • Facebook really nailed the personalization of ads when Google missed the mark completely. Everyone’s seen inappropriate Google AdSense ads with content.
  • The larger the registration information, the less involvement you’ll get. When you create a barrier, you’ll find that people can’t get around them. This includes the barrier to entry of TIME. The longer it takes to learn or adopt, the less adoption you’ll have.