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Tips & Tutorials: How to Monetize Your Community

During development of your SocialEngine site you may wonder, how do I monetize my Social Network? For some, monetization simply means covering the costs of the niche Social Network they have built, and for others the goal is to grow into a profitable business. Here are some key features you may find with SocialEngine that can help increase ROI of your site:

Subscriptions:

Subscription plans allow the ability to charge users for the use of premium features on your site. To do this set up a free plan, with limited access, and encourage users to upgrade by going to Settings -> Subscription; or offer the ability for users to choose subscription upon signup. Each plan you create should include premium features, based on separate member levels. Monitor and experiment with which plans work best by visiting Billing-> Plans -> Active Members or create Polls to determine which features your users would like the most and package those together into various plans. You can find more detailed information on setting up subscription plans in these KB articles.

Advertising:

Social networking is a good option for advertisers who want to increase brand awareness as they can often target users based on various demographic info and interests. It also allows you to offer users free access in exchange for seeing a few ads. There are several ways to achieve ad integration using SocialEngine including:

SocialEngine Ad campaign manager:

The key to generating substantial revenue from your social network is to create targeted ad campaigns- based on user interests or personal characteristics (e.g. their profile information). By creating ad campaigns, you can determine exactly where your ads will appear, how long they will be displayed, and who they will be shown to. To do this:

– Create various member levels

– Create Networks and map them automatically to profile questions by going to Manage-> Networks -> Add Network ->Related Profile Question

Once your member levels and Networks are successfully set up you can relate ads to these specific users.

Additionally, you may need to create a new page on your site explaining to advertisers how to purchase advertising on your site and your specific processes. Be sure to explain to them your process of how to become an advertiser and how the system automatically tracks Views, Clicks, and CTR(Click Through Rate).

Google Adsense/ 3rd party ad integration:

If you find that managing advertisers is not something you want to do, simply integrate 3rd party ad networks to your site with simple Banner HTML. This option allows you to simply copy/paste the HTML for your ad into a text area that appears when you select this option. Place the HTML on various pages or create an ad campaign Ads-> Create New Campagin and insert the HTML by going to Manage Advertisements -> Add New Advertisement -> Insert Banner HTML and insert the code in the HTML Code field.

Community Ads plugin:

The 3rd party plugin Community Ads enables users to create rich, targeted advertisement campaigns on your site for promotion of businesses, websites, and even their content on site: like listings, classifieds, groups, events, videos, etc. Multiple admin created ad packages enable users to choose the right plan for their campaigns. Integration with SocialEngine’s payment system allows charging users for ads with multiple pricing models based on clicks, views or days. Ads can be placed on all pages of your site and get seamlessly integrated.

Expand beyond your Social Network and the Web:

Utilize your network to its fullest. There are a number of amazing networks out there doing some amazing things – mobilizing grass root efforts, educating people, bringing communities together; however, many networks stop on the Internet. To be more successful, you must expand beyond the web.

Engage your members through interesting content and utilize the SocialEngine plugins such as events, groups, mobile, and integration with other social networks effectively.

The first step is to communicate effectively with your community using Questions, Calls to Action, and Emotions Next utilize the following plugins to achieve your goals:

Events:

Actively interact throughout the community in person. Encourage members to get connected and use these connections to interact in real life. Typically, this means establishing in-person meetings that help promote the site, the host, and the network.

Groups:

Encourage members to create groups and interact outside of the online social sphere with members who share and celebrate their mutual interests.

Facebook/Twitter Integration:

External networks allow your users to login to your social network and post content to their Facebook/Twitter wall/Feed from within SocialEngine. This will increase the amount of people who know your site exists and also allow your users to share with their own personal networks the ongoing of your niche community. To integrate more external networks check out the 3rd party plugin SocialDNA.

Mobile:

Interacting with a Social Networks can be time consuming and many people want to access that network on their mobile phones. With the mobile plugin your members will be able to use your community on-the-go with a compatible smart phone or mobile device. For further mobile integration check out the app developed by BooyaMedia .

Customize:

Always remember, as your site grows it will require additional resources and monetization to make that possible. For further help developing your site into a successful Social Network, partner with 3rd party developers or add additional plugins.

This is part I of a two part series we plan to release about monetizing your SocialEngine site, please leave any feedback or questions you have and we will attempt to answer them in the next installment.