Social media, when utilized properly, can help an artist build a dedicated community of fans who are willing to support their artistic endeavors. Monetization of a large online audience is usually seen down the road for most artists. However, new technologies have made it possible for artists to directly monetize through social media. In-stream monetization occurs when fans make purchases directly from their individual social media feeds. In-stream purchases not only allow for direct monetization of social media, but also create viral impressions and new mobile shopping experiences.
So far, in-stream sales have been more popular on Twitter. Musicians can use Chirpify, a new social media e-commerce tool, to sell digital and physical content to their fans. Artists set up an online store via Chirpify and tweet the items to their followers. Fans can purchase items by replying to the tweet. Chirpify automatically sends them a secure and direct download link via direct message or email. Other platforms like ShopLocket and Gumroad allow users to generate special links to sell merchandise, and work in a similar fashion. The links can then be shared to any social media network. These platforms not only provide artists with a means to monetize social media, but also provides artists with opportunities to create valuable buzz around their sales efforts. These offers can be retweeted and favorited by users, allowing the offer to spread through the social network. Hashtags can also be used, giving the offer the potential to become a trending topic. Unlike some traditional e-commerce methods, these in-stream sales messages have the potential to go viral on the social network.
Chirpify recently added an Instagram sales integration to their service. Artists post a picture of the sale item with a caption that reads “#Instasale $amount”. Fans can then make purchases in the comments section. Fundraising is also possible on the platform and works the same way. Again, the added value in this kind of in-stream sale is based in its potential to go viral.
Facebook recently added Special Offers for Pages. Brands can add a special offer that appears on their fans’ news feeds. When fans purchase the offer, it appears as a sponsored story on their friends’ news feeds, adding an element of virality to the offer. Other platforms like Gumroad, ShopLocket, and Kout can also be used on Facebook, and can contribute to viral impressions as well. However, it is important to remember that only Facebook Special Offers are official Facebook marketing tools, and will therefore always have higher EdgeRank ratings than other in-stream sales messages.
There can never be a substitute for having your own website and direct-to-fan online store. No in-stream sales campaign can ever take the place of a well-executed direct-to-fan e-commerce program. In-stream sales only provide artists with a short-term way to directly monetize social media. These sales tactics can work best with limited engagement items, such as new digital singles or special concert tickets. In-stream messages can also work for free music campaigns. Additionally in-stream purchasing gives fans a simple mobile shopping experience, an important step in an increasingly mobile world.
– Valeria Bornstein, Marketing