social media consultantDo you tweet? Socialize on Facebook? Are you gadget-savvy? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, have you considered using your online social skills to make money?

Believe it or not, companies actually pay people to virtually “socialize” on their behalf. Today’s social media is like yesterday’s television commercials. It’s how business advertising is done in the new millennium. Big corporations like Pepsico, McDonalds, Sony and many others not only use social media to advertise, but rely on it as a significant source of viewership for their media messages. Just consider some of these statistics regarding some of the Web’s most popular social networks:

FACEBOOK

* 69% of Facebook users are official “fans” of one or more company pages. (http://harpsocial.com/2011/04/social-medias-shocking-statistics/)

* Search engines refer 7% of total queries to Facebook. (http://harpsocial.com/2011/04/social-medias-shocking-statistics/)

* 50% of Facebook’s active users log in at least once per day. (http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7334-social-media-statistics-one-year-later)

* Approximately 65 million users access their Facebook accounts using a mobile device. (http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7334-social-media-statistics-one-year-later)

* Internet users spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook in May, 2011. (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/americans-spent-535-billion-minutes-on-facebook-in-may-2011/3566)

* The average visit to Facebook lasts 55 minutes. (http://harpsocial.com/2011/04/social-medias-shocking-statistics/)

TWITTER

* Twitter has over 15 million active users (and over 75 million registered accounts). (http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7334-social-media-statistics-one-year-later) The Twitter people claim that it’s actually more like 100 million ACTIVE users.

* An estimated average of 4 million “Tweets” go out across the Web every hour. (http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7334-social-media-statistics-one-year-later)

* 50% of active Twitter users sign in to their accounts at least once per day.

* 55% of Twitter users access their Twitter profiles via a mobile device. (http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/social-media-statistics-stats-2012-infographic/)

* 34% of marketers have generated or developed leads using Twitter. (http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/social-media-statistics-stats-2012-infographic/)

LINKEDIN

* LinkedIn has 100 million active users. (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/23865/13-Mind-Bending-Social-Media-Marketing-Statistics.aspx)

* Linked In is used by approximately 69 of the Fortune 100 companies. (http://www.slideshare.net/amover/linked-in-demographics-and-statistics-2011)

* Linked In is the world’s most popular professional social network. (http://www.socialnomics.net/2011/03/28/linkedin-hits-100-million-breakdown-by-country-graphic/)

YOU TUBE

* Every minute 35 hours of video footage is uploaded to YouTube. (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/23865/13-Mind-Bending-Social-Media-Marketing-Statistics.aspx)

* YouTube videos are viewed 2 billion times every 24 hours. (http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7334-social-media-statistics-one-year-later)

* More video is uploaded every 60 days than the three major US television networks produced in 60 years. (http://www.reelseo.com/youtube-statistics/)

* YouTube Mobile gets over 100 million views per day. (http://www.reelseo.com/youtube-statistics/)

GENERAL INTERNET STATISTICS

* Americans spend at much time on the Internet today as they do watching television. Many experts predict that more screen time will be logged on the Internet than on the television in the very near future. (http://mashable.com/2010/12/13/internet-tv-forrester/)

* Social networking is so popular that many schools have blocked sites like Facebook and Twitter from their servers because of the distraction it poses to students and staff.

* Software developers like AnchorFree are responding to this trend by creating programs that allow students and staff at school to get around these blocks and access their social networks while at school. (http://hsshelp.com/blocked_at_school_v3/?gclid=COSE1dXto7ACFaEJRQodKl_fXA)

* 43% of all online consumers are social media fans or followers. (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/23865/13-Mind-Bending-Social-Media-Marketing-Statistics.aspx)

In fact, social media and networking (and thus related sectors) are growing at such a rapid rate that these statistics may quickly become outdated! In other words, there’s never been a better time to start a social media marketing business, and the prospects just keep getting better.

What is a Social Media Marketing Consultant?

Companies of all sizes have a hard time keeping up with the latest developments in social networking. New social sites are emerging every month. Busy business owners and corporate executives often know that social media marketing is important, but don’t have the time to invest in it themselves.

So, instead, they hire consultants to tackle this aspect of advertising for them. A consultant offers advice on how social media marketing may benefit a business, as well as which of the social networks may be the best and most effective ones to use.

A social media consultant may also contract with a business on an ongoing basis to be the person who spends the time creating “Tweets,” updating the company’s Facebook statuses, or uploading advertising videos to YouTube.

In some cases, a social media marketing consultant may even be retained to create original material to contribute to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, SlideShare, Flickr, Wikipedia or others. (The consultant him/herself may not necessarily create the content, but rather sub-contracts this out.)

Starting Your Own Social Media Marketing Business

As you can see, there are lots of different things you can do as a social media marketing consultant. The first thing you’ll need to do is think through your business model. In other words, what kinds of services will you offer? Here are just a few things to think about including in your services:

* Consulting: Offering advice and teaching businesses how to use social networking for business.

* Social network updating: Posting on behalf of, as a representative of, the company you are working with. This regular Facebook status updating, Tweeting and posting content (supplied by the client) on YouTube, SlideShare or other content sites.

* Creating/developing business profile pages on Facebook, Linked In and other social networks.

* Pursuing and amassing fans/followers.

* Interacting with fans/followers by starting conversations (“threads”), joining in on other conversations or commenting on the posts of fans/followers.

* Creating original content for uploading to social network sites on behalf of your client (videos, slide presentations, photos, graphics, articles, comments). You can either do this yourself or contract this part out to a third party (if you do this you’ll need to make sure that you price your services accordingly so you can still make a profit).

* Offer courses, seminars, Webinars or other kinds of formal social media marketing training.

* Conduct on-site employee training on using social networks to promote a business.

There may be others things that you’ll want to add to this list. The more you can customize and offer original services, the better your chances at getting clients.

You certainly don’t have to offer all of the services described above. Perhaps you want to offer consultation only, or maybe you only want to offer ongoing service packages revolving around updating a company’s social network profiles. No matter what you end up deciding to offer, it’s best to have this figured out before you start to officially launch your business.

Pricing Your Services

Social media consulting prices are all over the map, so it can be hard to know where to start when setting your prices. Looking at what others are charging for similar services can help you find a starting point.

Sometimes “newbies” to the consulting business start out trying to undercut their competition by offering the lowest prices. The problem that often evolves is that they end up making so little profit for effort expended that it’s not worth it. Some may even price themselves so low that credible companies question their ability to actually perform the services they are advertising.

Conversely, new consultants may decide to price themselves higher than their competitors in the hopes of attracting the big fish in the Internet ocean. This may lead to a consultant finding himself in over his head, and with so little experience, unable to deliver the kinds of results that warrant a big price tag.

So price wisely, and package yourself and your business accordingly. And, instead of trying to set yourself apart from your competitors by price, do it instead by creating unique and exclusive services that clients can’t get from your competitors.

We suggest starting out by offering just one or two services, and maybe a few variations of that service. Here’s a very basic example:

Offer a Facebook and Twitter updating service. Create packages that revolve around those services and offer potential clients the opportunity to select the package that works best for them, such as:

    * One Tweet per day or one Facebook status posts for $12 per month.

    * Five Tweets or Facebook status posts per day for $15 per month.

    * Ten Tweets or Facebook status posts per day for $19 per month.

    * One Tweet and one Facebook status post per day for $15 per month.

    * Five Tweets and five Facebook status posts for $19 per month.

    * Ten Tweets and ten Facebook status posts for $22 per month.

As you begin to amass a clientele (or your own “fans” or “followers), you can start adding new services and marketing them to existing clients, fans and followers for a lower rate than what you’ll be offering to the public.

Alternately, as you get better and more experienced at social media marketing, you can launch other businesses under your brand. You can offer these services on a different Website and gear the whole site toward those particular services. (More on creating Websites later.)

Social Media Marketing Training

It can be very beneficial to take one or more social media marketing courses, even if you think you already know a lot about using social media. Fortunately, there are all kinds of training options available from formal college-based certificate programs (in person and online), Web-based courses, one-time Webinars and seminars and even community classes. Some places to look for social media marketing training include:

* Your local community college.

* Your state college(s): some of them may offer online certificate programs so that you can work from home at your own pace.

* On your favorite social networks: Join groups that are SEO and social media-focussed. Other group members may post links to social media marketing courses or even teach some themselves.

* Other online locations: Use your favorite search engine and search the words “social media marketing courses.” You’ll likely find all kinds of options, especially Webinars or upcoming seminars/conferences.

Creating Your Own Website

Your own Website is a must, since this is how you’ll be getting most of your leads and clients. If you’ve never created a Website before, don’t worry: it’s not as daunting a task as it may sound.

You don’t have to know HTML or any other kind of programming to do this. You only need to find yourself a good build-it-yourself Website maker. You’ll find lots of these online. Some user-friendly ones with lots of options include Wix.com, Moonfruit.com and Webs.com.

Here you simply choose from dozens of different Website templates. They are often referred to as “drag and drop” because you simply choose the elements that you want on your pages, click on them, drag them to the spot on the page where you want them to show up and then drop them into the template.

You can also upload your own images/graphics, including photos and your business logo, if you have one. Then you add your own text, and within a few hours you have a Website that’s ready to be uploaded to the Web!

You’ll need to purchase your own domain before you can upload your site. You can purchase your domain directly from your build-it-yourself Website provider. If you already have a domain, you need only to transfer it from your domain seller to your site builder.

Hosting fees are relatively inexpensive, usually less than $15 per month, and sometimes less than $10. If you need more storage you’ll have to pay a bit more, but usually basic storage is all you need.

Your own Website will give you credibility with potential customers. What will give you even more credibility is a strong social network presence and fan/follower base of your own. So be sure that you work at this for your own site. It will give your potential customers far more confidence in your ability to market their business effectively.

Hope this helps,

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