In digital marketing, we often think about social media as the “middle-of-the-funnel” or the space on the internet where customers compare and contrast different products before making a decision.
Social media is actually perfect for that, as it allows prospective customers to test a brand’s promise by looking into previous customers’ experiences and opinions.
Having a strong social media presence has become an important aspect of any brand strategy, but what if it could be more than just that?
What if your social media presence could be the engine of your business, and allow you to leverage the community you’ve fostered in a profitable way?
In order to do that, you need to understand how your social media following can contribute to creating value for your customers.
In this post, by following the principles of the business model canvas, we’ll be looking at 7 different business models that allow you to turn your social media presence into a hugely competitive asset.
With no further ado, let’s dive into the topic.
#1 Social Network-Driven Sales
This is the most basic approach to leveraging your social media presence. In this case, you are using social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to drive sales, by providing compelling offers to your community.
The benefit of this approach consists in its strong market orientation: by building a community around your brand, you are able to understand what types of products and services are more aligned with your users. By offering products you know they want, you can have a higher-than-average conversion rate.
#2 Peer to Peer Sales Websites
In this case, the community you are fostering does not have a brand telling them what to buy. Because of the fact that users are connected by similar goals, they may find opportunities to exchange goods among themselves.
In this sense, a business does not actually sell anything, but by creating a marketplace, it can charge a percentage of each transaction for the service provided (matching the buyer with the seller).
Peer-to-peer websites can take many forms, but one of the most common is the marketplace, where the brand offers a "value proposition" that consists of guaranteeing "market liquidity" or a reliable expectation.
Buyers have a reliable expectation to find what they are looking for, while sellers have a reliable expectation to sell items listed on the platform.
#3 Group Buying
Another successful business model based on a large community of users is group buying.
In this business model, users can buy products or services at a lower price when enough users agree to make a purchase.
Groupon is an example of this type of social media platform. By allowing customers to find each other and to use a larger pooling capacity they can get better rates and gain a stronger contractual position in a business transaction.
#4 Peer Recommendations
If an audience is well aligned in terms of the issues they are trying to solve - like in the case of trigger event communities - a natural hierarchy is usually developed.
In a trigger-event community, users are connected because of the fact that they are addressing an event that challenges them with many new problems. Moving to a new city, changing jobs, becoming a parent, etc.
In trigger event communities, members are not engaged in peer-to-peer conversations, as some of the members have much more expertise and competence, as they have already dealt with these issues.
Those audience members who have already overcome a particular issue can advise other members based on their experience.
Leveraging peer recommendations can be very helpful for your sales, as reviews and unbiased opinions provided by other customers can be very influential and persuasive on other customers.
#5 User-Curated Shopping
What about influencers and the types of passion communities they are able to foster?
According to this business model format influencers can create and share lists of products and services for others to shop from.
Essentially, with user-curated shopping, you are able to provide persuasive recommendations that can make use of your expertise and knowledgeability in your niche.
#6 Participatory Shopping
Following the business model called the producer-designer-client, your social media presence can use the community it has fostered to serve as a "sounding board" regarding new business initiatives of products you’d like to sell.
With participatory shopping, users can get involved in the production process and grow engagement with the brand or product, much sooner than the product is even on sale. Using this model can help creating a buzz for your upcoming product launch.
Kickstarter is one of the applications that leverage this business model, as it allows entrepreneurs to build momentum around a new product release.
#7 Social Shopping
With social shopping sites provide chat sessions for users so they can communicate with their friends and families to ask for some advice.
Considering how relevant our friends’ and family’s opinion can be, with this business model, a website is essentially enabling its users to seamlessly involve all of the people whose opinion matters in our shopping experience.
Great! Now that we’ve touched upon all relevant topics, it’s time to draw a few conclusive remarks.
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There you have it! In this post, we’ve explored 7 business models that revolve around your social media presence. If you are a brand or an influencer with a strong social following, these business models can help you get started and can help you leverage your brand equity in a profitable way.If you’d like to learn more on the subject, here’s a book we recommend reading on the subject that can help you go more in-depth on the best practices of social media: Social Media Strategy: Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations in the Consumer Revolution
Moreover, don’t hesitate to visit our blog, where we’re sharing a wealth of information on how to approach social media management successfully.
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