Social media experts gathered last week in San Francisco to discuss monetization. Although a necessity, monetization remains a huge challenge for most companies.

Last week, MEDIABISTRO held a two-day conference in San Francisco to discuss social media and how they can be used to engage customers, with a clear focus on monetization. Mobile, social networks, social gaming and advertising were at the center of the discussion, animated by panelists coming from various horizons in the web industry.

Still a long way to go

Pretty much all the panelists agreed that mobile and social networks represent a huge opportunity to generate revenue. When it comes to how to achieve this effectively, though, the debate is still open. The web is an evolving environment, built around billions of actions and interactions: sharing, discussing, sending gifts, engaging, playing games... The increasing number of platforms, devices and social interactions represent huge challenges for small and mid-sized publishers who want to reach a large audience, and brands or digital agencies that want to leverage online communities in an effective way. There was a consensus, at Socialize West, about the fact that tailor-made strategies, depending on what experience you want to provide your audience with, are usually the best way to go. 

Back to basics and best practices

Speakers underlined the numerous errors brands make when using social tools to "engage" with their customers and prospects. Examples included American Airlines avoiding answering unhappy customers on Twitter, Verizon emailing customers who recently upgraded their mobile to sell new phones, or Infinity mailing flyers with QR codes redirecting customers to a website that wasn’t live yet. Engaging with social network users requires honesty and consideration: brands should be sincerely involved in their communities and make sure to handle customer complains rather than ignoring them. It takes a lot of patience and involvement, yet it can often be rewarding when customers turn into evangelists for your brand. Social media isn't only about ROI, it is first about interacting and connecting, with sincerity.

By Jérôme Rastoldo