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7 tips to monetize your social media efforts

Everybody has to get dressed each morning. Jason Sadler is no exception. But what makes Jason Sadler different fromsadlersmall everyone else is that he gets paid to get dressed. Sadler is the head honcho—CEO and founder, if you will—of iwearyourshirt.com, a company that can best be described as a walking, talking social-media billboard business.

The business is simple, Sadler told a group at a recent Knowledge Is Power workshop, presented by Jacksonville Small Business Advantage and sponsored by Venture Plex (www.usventureplex.com). “Basically iwearyourshirt is this: You buy a day; I wear your shirt for that day; and I promote it via social media. I take photos and put them on Flickr. I make a video and put it on YouTube. I do a live video show every day on Ustream. I share it all with my Facebook and Twitter friends. I put it up on my Web site. That’s my business.”

And business is good. He started as a one-man walking billboard in September of 2008 and then sold all but one day of 2009. “I actually sold every day, but one company was going out of business and asked for its money back, so I took a day off,” he told the group.

His pricing structure is as simple as his business model: In , on January 1, 2009, a company paid $1 for Sadler to wear its shirt—and to promote its brand. The price increased a dollar a day; the company that bought December 31 paid $365—2009’s top price. In 2010, Sadler raised his price to $2 on January 1, with an increase of $2 a day thereafter. But, for the extra cost, buyers get extra exposure: Sadler’s buddy in California, Evan White, wears the same shirt and does the same type of social-media promotions as he does.

The uniqueness of his business model has caught the attention of major news outlets, such as ABC News with Charles Gibson, CBS News with Katie Couric, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the L.A. Times, to name just a few. What is extraordinary about his success is that he has never advertised nor has he ever hired a publicist. He has become famous in the world of entrepreneurship just by doing one thing— using social media.

“Using social media the right way is very easy,” says Sadler. “All you have to do is join the conversation; find the right platform; and—most important—be yourself.” He gave the group seven tips on how they could work social media to their advantage, just as he has done for iwearyourshirt.com.

1. Choose the social media sites that are best for you. Select the ones your audience visits, and make sure they are a good fit for your business. “A lot of people try to find new and interesting social media sites. There are thousands of them. The point is to find things that work best for your industry,” he says.

2. Adapt to your audience. Sadler says you can’t just push messages out on the various social media. “My friends on Facebook are very different from my Twitter followers. I’ve got 21,000 Twitter followers; I’ve got over 4,000 friends on Facebook. I get many more clicks from things I put on Facebook because they are my friends, and I’ve met maybe 30% of them, and I adapt what I say to them.”

3. Consider before you commit. If you are not using Twitter, which Sadler says is an extremely powerful tool (“I would never have been successful without Twitter,” he says), don’t just jump on it. Consider the people you are trying to reach; think about how you can tie Twitter into your whole marketing strategy. He suggests, “If you send out a flyer about an event, put on it, ‘Follow us on Twitter.’ Then give updates on Twitter.”

4. Interact with your friends. More than 75 million people have Twitter accounts, he says. “I have 21,000 followers on Twitter. I try to interact with everybody. Don’t just spit out messages; talk to people. The more you believe you are ‘high and mighty’ and everyone wants to hear what you have to say, the less people will want to hear about you. They want to be involved in the conversation.

Sadler emphasized the importance of interactivity by pointing out a company that gets 5 million unique views a day on its Web site, but only has 12,000 followers on Twitter. Why the discrepancy? “All they do is put RSS news feeds on Twitter,” he says. “They never talk to anybody.”

5. Attend to content, but don’t forget context. “Content is king,” says Sadler. “My business model is based on content, all of which is optimized for search engines. People can always find it, and it will live on the Internet forever.” What Sadler posts to the Web is also contextual. He explains, “I give the content a voice. I give it my own personality. People come to listen to me talk about it and to watch videos of me doing fun stuff. That’s what my followers want.”

6. Make the most of pictures. “I’ve taken over 1,600 photos for Flickr,” says Sadler. “People like looking at photos. It’s an easy thing to do.” Put them in your blog, Facebook, Twitter, in your e-mails.

7. Create videos. “I think video content is the wave of the future, the way businesses are going to grow audiences,” he says. To demonstrate its effectiveness, Sadler said a video he posted a week before already had 16,000 views. “I recommend that if you are thinking about creating video, just make it good. A good video has a change to go viral.”

Social media by itself will not do the job, however. “You have to put in the time,” says Sadler. “I work 10 to 12 hours a day. I try to answer every one of the hundreds of e-mails I get. …I have a highly engaged, focused community, and I know that on a moment’s notice I can ask people to do things for me because I deal with them every day.”

Jason Sadler, a Jacksonville native, can be reached through his Web site, www.iwearyourshirt.com.


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