How to Make Money on Social Media [New Data + Case Studies]

How to Make Money on Social Media [New Data + Case Studies]

Shopping on social media has become increasingly popular over the past few years, as brands explore how to make money on these platforms.

creator making money on social media platform

In fact, one in three consumers report having discovered new products on social media in the past three months.

Consumers also report that some of their preferred methods of discovering products on social media are through short-form videos like TikToks or Instagram Reels (37%), ads or sponsored content (32%), and social media shops like Instagram Shop (29%).

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This statistic may seem surprising, but as someone who purchases all of my skincare products and many clothing items based on Instagram ads, I can attest that social media shopping tools are effective.

TikTok user Bri Hofsass is in this boat. She told me, “Seeing an outfit via TikTok immediately puts the product in a reality I can see myself in. I don’t need to worry about how I will style it, or if it will look good on my frame. [Social media shopping] essentially helps you skip the fitting room stage.”

I can relate. When I’m shopping, I want to see the products being used, and I need immediacy.

Let’s look at three companies that have exemplified success using the product discovery methods listed above.

Three Brands That Leveraged Social Media Shopping Tools

1. TikTok and K18

With over 1 billion monthly users, TikTok is an undeniably powerful platform for reaching large audiences.

37% of consumers have used the app in the past three months (72% Gen Z, 51% Millennial, and 45% Gen X), and 30% of Gen Z consumers list TikTok as their favorite social media app.

Hofsass added, “TikTok Shop is the most convenient for in-app purchasing. Half the time, I don’t even realize I’m being served an ad or am on the TikTok Shop page.”

So, if your brand‘s target audience is Gen Zers like her, it makes sense to test out TikTok’s ad capabilities.

K18, a haircare brand rooted in science and biotech, launched its first paid campaign on TikTok when it had roughly 2K followers and 500K views.

K18 partnered with TikTok creators who created natural, before-and-after tutorial haircare videos. The brand ran these creatives using Spark Ads and targeted any users interested in hair care.

The month-long ad campaign resulted in a 70% lift in daily average sales. On top of this increase in sales, the brand also grew its TikTok presence. Its followers increased from 2K to 20K, and their ads saw 27M views.

2. Facebook and AlwaysHealthy

According to HubSpot blog research, 42% of consumers list Facebook as their favorite social media app, and 58% of consumers who’ve made a social media purchase in the last three months report that they did so on Facebook.

Facebook is a popular app for many reasons, but we can’t deny its trust across generations as a shopping tool.

AlwaysHealthy, an online-first Thai performance fashion brand, ran a campaign that paired ads that directed to Messenger with Shopee-powered shopping features.

This allowed customers to view the brand’s products in ads, learn more about the product and add items to their shopping cart in Messenger, and then click to the Shopee app or website to make the purchase.

The campaign ran from June to July 2023 and targeted women aged 17-50 in Thailand with ads promoting various products and special offers.

The campaign saw huge success; CEO Thanat Tippanusawat reports, “After connecting our Shopee catalog with Meta, we saw a 71% increase in return on ad spend.”

3. Instagram and Homesick

There is a lot of value in selling your products directly on social media platforms.

49% of consumers trust brands that sell directly on social media platforms like Instagram, and one in four consumers have bought a product on a social media app like Instagram Shop in the last three months.

Due to the growing popularity of social media in-app shopping, Homesick, a candle, home fragrance, and lifestyle brand, decided to add Advantage+ shopping campaigns to its ad strategy on Instagram.

Advantage+ shopping campaigns use AI and machine learning so advertisers can easily set up a single campaign and test up to 150 different combinations to optimize for the highest-performing ads.

Homesick paired its Advantage+ shopping campaigns with Shops ads, so paid traffic could be automatically diverted to either the brand’s website or its Instagram Shop.

The team tested out two campaign methods and concluded that there was a 27% higher return on ad spend when selecting “website and Shop” in the Advantage+ shopping campaigns versus “website” only.

Homesick reached more incremental buyers with Shop ads and created a more seamless shopping experience for buyers who prefer purchasing through social media shops.

Ultimately, the Shopping Tools you consider using will depend upon which platforms your target audience prefers, and which tools make the most sense for your business goals.

The above success stories teach us that there is an opportunity to leverage social media as a money-making tool.

Next, let’s look at eight ways you can monetize your social media presence.

8 ways to make money on social media

How to Make Money on Social Media

There are several options for making money and growing your business on social media while remaining true to the heart of your brand.

How to Make Money on Social Media as a Brand

1. Partner with other brands.

Two heads are better than one, right? If you want to grow your brand presence on social media, one of the best ways to do so is by extending your reach to the reach of another brand.

For example, one of my favorite collabs I’ve seen recently is OOKIOH Says Gah!: a collab between independent, sustainable swimwear brand OOKIOH and women-owned independent clothing boutique Lisa Says Gah.

The brands joined forces to create a custom line of swimwear that was the best of both brands: swimwear made of OOKIOH’s regenerative materials in eye-catching Italian-cuisine-inspired patterns beloved by Lisa Says Gah fans (like me!).

While Lisa Says Gah boasts 614K Instagram followers, OOKIOH has 24.2K, so the brand partnership works doubly as hard to lift the latter’s social media presence and increase its ability to make sales.

When your network grows, you grow with it, so it’s a great idea to partner with brands that will lift your brand awareness and, thus, sales.

2. Collaborate with creators.

At Nickelodeon, I manage our international influencer marketing program.

I’m constantly searching for international creators who match our brand values, are relatable or aspirational to our target audiences, and are enthusiastic about being involved with Nickelodeon.

As mentioned earlier, 37% of consumers prefer discovering products on social media through short-form videos like TikToks or Instagram Reels.

Who knows short-form videos better than influencers who dedicate their lives to content creation?

I spoke with creative partnerships professional Rosston Tague, who cautioned that some paid sponsorships with influencers perform better than others.

You have to be particular about your audience. When the product or service lines up with an influencer’s brand and audience, it feels more authentic, and that’s what you should funnel your dollars into.”

It may feel daunting to figure out how to find the best influencers to partner with for campaigns like this.

Before beginning any outreach, it’s important to know exactly what kinds of influencers you’re targeting for your Instagram influencer marketing campaign.

At work, I use Tagger, an influencer marketing tool, to discover influencers based on location, engagement rate, age, account mentions, and more.

Tools like this can help you weed through the crowd and find creators who will best understand and represent your brand.

quote on making money on social media with influencer marketing

3. Sell your products directly on social media.

25% of social media users have bought a product on social media directly in the app, such as on Instagram Shops.

As an avid social media user with a slight shopping addiction, I will admit I recently fell down a rabbit hole of summery tanks and sheer dresses elicited by an Urban Outfitters Instagram Shop post.

Selling your products directly on social media is a surefire way to reach social media users where they already are.

In contrast, your brand may only be reaching a niche audience specifically seeking out your products via your website or retail stores.

Social media opens up a new realm of consumers of various ages, locations, and interests. After all, 36% of consumers use the search feature on social media platforms specifically to find products and services to buy.

Also, it allows for much more DTC communication. You can directly speak with and answer questions from consumers in post comments and direct messages, which adds both efficiency and humanity to your customer interactions.

4. Promote giveaways and special offers.

Social media helps you spread the word quickly and widely.

An Instagram or Facebook giveaway is one of the best ways to draw new consumers to your brand and encourage them to try your products.

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and a giveaway is the perfect example of that.

For instance, the Nickelodeon France marketing team runs frequent product giveaways on their Instagram page, including this one for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figurines.

These giveaways often draw in a high volume of comments, and thus, eyes on the brand.

You can also use social media to promote special offers, which do involve a purchase and directly help you make money.

Laneige, a Korean skincare and makeup brand, recently posted on Instagram and TikTok promoting its 25% off Friends & Family sale.

This is a great way to draw consumers from social media to your website if you don’t yet have a social media shop.

5. Implement social media management tools.

While all the above methods of making money on social media are actionable, you may be asking yourself, “How do I even get started?”

At times like this, it’s crucial to build a social media strategy that helps you leverage social platforms to target various audiences while staying within your budget. This will help you make money without overspending.

When building your strategy, you should always refer to the most current consumer trends and expert advice. Humans are ever-changing and adaptable, and the best way to make money is to target them how and with what they want.

After all, TikTok only launched in 2016 and has already amassed a cult-like following.

Lastly, consider scheduling your social media content in advance — from brand collabs to influencer-sponsored content to giveaways — so you can spread the wealth of content you want to share over a longer period.

It’s always best to have content in storage that can be utilized during future quiet periods.

If you don’t have a dedicated team to manage these organizational and planning processes, it’s worthwhile to invest in a social media management tool that does the job for you.

This gives you more time to focus on the most important things: brand and influencer outreach, content planning, and business management.

Though these are all great tips for companies to make money on social media, these platforms can be just as successful at monetization for individuals.

BookTok nano-creator Katie Zepf admitted, “The decision [to start a BookTok] definitely had something to do with making more money.”

If you’re looking to make money on social media as an influencer, consider these tips below.

How to Make Money on Social Media as a Creator

6. Join an affiliate marketing program.

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing tactic in which a business pays another business or influencer a commission for sending traffic to its website or store and, ultimately, sales.

This is especially effective if the company’s products align with your brand and values.

There are tons of affiliate marketing programs, so it’s essential to select one that allows for mutual trust, transparency, and of course, a solid commission.

You want to ensure you’re promoting products and/or services that you truly believe in and would (or do) use, as followers can easily spot inauthenticity, as Tague mentioned earlier.

For example, if you are a health and wellness influencer, it would make sense to be an affiliate for brands in the fitness or food industries.

The ideal situation is a win-win-win: you make a commission from your followers’ purchases, the company makes money off sales of their products or services, and your followers get to try something new recommended by a trusted creator.

7. Work with brands on a post-by-post basis.

Not all brands have an affiliate marketing program, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work with them as a creator. There are other ways to partner with a brand, such as through paid ads and sponsored content.

Content creator Shompa Kabir agreed, telling me, “I have partnered with a variety of brands to do paid ads and sponsored posts. I like to do brand deals and sponsored posts because it generates a stream of revenue for myself.”

While I conduct international influencer research on behalf of Nickelodeon, many influencers have also reached out to express a desire to partner with us in some capacity.

This shows initiative and makes it abundantly clear there will be enthusiasm for the content they create.

You don’t need a macro following to make money on social media.

Kabir added, “My biggest tip would be that consistency is key. Consistency will help your following, and just because you don’t have a large following doesn’t mean you can’t get brand deals.”

Lastly, unlike affiliate marketing programs, you know you are guaranteed compensation upfront as part of the contract with the brand when you partner on a sponsored post.

You may only need to do as little as one post as part of the partnership, so this is a low-risk, high-reward situation.

quote from tiktok creator on brand deals and sponsored posts

8. Share and sell your products or services on social media.

It’s not just brands who can sell their products on platforms like Instagram. As an individual creator, you have the power to create content that makes your products or services appear highly lucrative.

For instance, I follow many crafty creators like @averp who knit and crochet beautiful sweaters, blankets, and more. What may have begun as a skilled hobby can easily transform into a business using social media.

Posting tutorials and GRWM (“Get Ready With Me”) videos featuring your hand-knitted creations can encourage followers to want to shop with you.

On one of @averp’s TikToks, a follower commented, “do you sell these? Im in absolute NEED of the 1st tank!!!!!” to which the creator replied, “Yes i will be selling the vests!!!! Dm on instagram if you’d like to buy, otherwise it will be up on my depop tomorrow <3”

There is clearly opportunity to kickstart and grow your business while relying on social media. After all, 29% of consumers prefer to discover new products through influencers they follow.

Kabir mentioned, “I’m in the process of starting a business and will be implementing showcasing my product through social media as well as holding influencer events to help spread the reach.”

Social media is a great opportunity to show off your products, services, or budding business on a platform with high shopping demand.

Whether you’re part of a large corporation or small business, or simply an individual looking to sell your product, there are numerous ways to leverage social media to grow your brand awareness, following, and sales.

No matter where you primarily prefer to conduct your sales, social media offers cost-effective, efficient, and high-return opportunities to reach more consumers where they are.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2022 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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