- Nobody pays Facebook a membership bill.
- We aren't paying for twitter (yet).
- While many of us pay for Typepad, Six Apart is clearly looking to tack on additional revenue streams (their sales arm came down to my offices yesterday).
So where will this industry net out? How will it drive revenues? Who is going to make money off of this VC backed free-for-all?
There are a number of potential paths to profit, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. So before you set out on your social venture, consider the revenue opportunities in today's marketplace (aside from selling your body, soul and audience to Google) below.
- Brand Asset Production - Ex. Rock You - after earning their seat at the table with many Facebook success stories, Rock You now building for brands as well.
- Market Intelligence - Converseon, Radian 6, Cymfony, Collective Intellect, Motive Quest, Biz 360, Buzz Metrics... the world is talking and for the first time ever, we can listen, learn and even engage. Any companies will pay handsomly for the capability.
- Outsourced Outreach/Relationship Management - Many PR Firms, Social Firms, Media Firms, as well as specialty shops like NMS and Marketing Works, offer "social voice" solutions (both proactive and reactive).
- Traditional Display Advertising - high page views = lots of CPM inventory.
- Targeted Social Ads - targeting by social circle, social context, profile data or behavioral data allow developers and site owners to charge premium rates for remnant non-premium inventory.
- Advocacy / Sponsored Voices - there's nothing like bringing top tier talent to your event to attract the right audience. Solutions like Federated Media bring the big names, their voice's, audience's, credibility and association's to your brand... for a fee.
- White Label Community Solutions - whether you are selling a platform, a service or both, brands love focus groups and are beginning to understand the power of community advocacy.
- Strategists/Consultants - Just because it's new to you, doesn't mean that there isn't someone out there who "gets it" and would be glad to help you get your social plan started.
- Subscription Fees - Though rare, subscribers may pony up for your service if it's THAT good or THAT popular. Ex - Flickr Pro.
- Connectors - It's a big world, and it's growing fast. Serving as a connector/consultant can be a lucrative business if you have the roledex, know how and people skills to pull it off.
If you can't see yourself or your start-up fitting anywhere on the above list, I would seriously reconsider your course of action.
photo credit here