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How to make money in social media by teaching people how to make money in social media


1. Define yourself as an expert in social media. (see Footnote [a])

2. Develop a Top Ten List of advice you can give social media wannabes when you’re invited to sit on panels at social media events. (see Footnote [b])

3. Decide how much to charge for speaking on panels. (see Footnote [c])

4. Deduce a method for getting wineries and others who want to make money from social media to pay you to teach them how. (See Footnote [d])

So there you have it: Define, Develop, Decide, Deduce: What I call “The 4 D’s of Social Media.” Look for my book on the topic, which will be published next month by Vaynerchuk Media. You can order it right here.


[a] This is as simple as creating a business card. Here’s an example:

John M. Swinthope, S.M.E.
President, Social Media Strategies
1144 North Forklift Drive
West Islip, Long Island 04403

You’ll also need a cool-looking brochure that explains your business. Here’s an excerpt from John Swinthope’s:

“Social Media Strategies is the only social media company that strategically aligns you with the most current strategies in social media. Be it a blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or whatever, Social Media Strategies can maximize your involvement in social media and strategize your ROI in line with that of the biggest corporations.”

You’ll need some Testamonials. Here’s an example:

“With the expert strategical guidance of John Swinthope’s Social Media Strategies, I’m now making up to $65,000 a year in my social media business!” — Ellen Wickles, Denver, Colorado.

[b] This is easy. Just steal other social media experts’ advice and change the wording a little, so they can’t accuse you of plagiarism. For example, in the current issue of “The Tasting Panel,” Anthony Dias Blue’s amusing magazine, on page 18 is an article about a social media panel held earlier this year in New York. The well-known blogger, Alder Yarrow, was on the panel, and he gave the audience this advice: “Read other wine blogs, and don’t have one unless you can do it well.” You could rewrite Alder’s advice anyway you want. Here’s one solution to avoid a lawsuit: “If you decide to do a blog, decide to do it well. If you don’t know how to do a blog well, you can read other well-written blogs and learn.” Even if Alder saw that, it’s unlikely he’d recognize that he had actually written it. And you’ll probably eventually find yourself sitting next to Alder on a panel!

[c] Since billing clients will be central to your social media ROI, it’s essential to do it right. You can begin by testing the waters to figure out how much you’re actually worth. The next time somebody invites you to speak on a panel, tell them they’ll have to pay all your expenses plus $10,000. If they agree, then that’s how much you’re worth — $10,000. Next time somebody calls, ask for more; say, $15,000. If they disagree, then you know you’re worth somewhere between $10,000 and $14,999.

[d] This is the most challenging part of all. You have to convince people to pay you perfectly good money for advice that is, or could largely be, completely meaningless. But it’s not as hard as you think, for a simple reason: They know even less about this stuff than you!!! Therefore you can take advantage of their ignorance by showing off your knowledge. Don’t feel guilty about it; after all, they want to believe. All you’re doing is helping them to believe — in you, in themselves, in their futures. What’s so awful about that? It’s almost like being a priest or a rabbi, plus you get paid for it!

  1. You are one of the funniest people I know…

  2. Jeez, conflicted on the subject? I’m somewhere between “Yeah, Baby” and “Whoa, Baby” in opinion of the preceived sentiment. Like to see the participants in social media develop some street cred, throw down some cash or take a second mortgage, read Marshall Mcluhan. As long as the price of admission into the social media world of wine-play is essentially the time it takes to type a message, you get what you pay for, valid or not.

  3. Social media just offers new tools to distribute content and creates new ways to interact online.

    The real money is going to be made by talented designers and developers.

    I bet that talented developers and designers could offer some constructive criticism on how your website and Alder’s website are designed, and on the type of content that your websites contain.

    You guys are both good writers.

    “Read other wine blogs, and don’t have one unless you can do it well” can apply to anything. I’m not going to want to listen to you play the piano unless you play it well.

  4. DrHoro, then you’re not going to want to listen to me play the piano!

  5. Hey man,

    want me to tweet this to help build your social media equity?


  6. Dear Lar: Sure.

  7. So Steve … what do you really thing of SMEs? 🙂

  8. Simultaneously true, funny and scathing. Dude, I love it!

  9. Richard, I could answer your question, but it will cost you.

  10. kelkeagy says:

    Very funny and sadly true. I can’t tell you how many cold call solicitations we get from SME’s (that we’ve never heard of) who want to “add value” to our organization. They’re coming out of woodwork. I’ve also seen a couple of wine hobbyists who post their tasting notes on various websites and would like to be added to our samples list. Strange times… exciting, but strange.

  11. My day just got a little brighter!

  12. Actually, footnote D might be the easiest of them all. In the business world, the only qualification to be a SME is that you know more about a subject than anyone else in the room.

  13. Morton Leslie says:

    The other day I read an article about a study that showed a non-profit could triple its donations by the proper use and integration of twitter, facebook, youtube, and non-profits website in fund raising. Interestingly, the study was done by a company that has a product they sell that, you guessed it, “integrates twitter, facebook, youtube and your website into fundraising.” So, I would add to your list. e.) Conduct your own study, maybe under another name that has “enterprise” and “new media” in it, and determine how much services like yours could expand the revenue of a winery.

  14. Alder: Don’t call me Sue.

  15. Carlos Toledo says:

    The funny, interesting, poking, intriguing fact about these people comes way more alive when we meet people who have known them since kindergarten.

    They haven’t become swindlers or stingers over night. When they were 3, 4 years old they were already getting away with the lamest (but fast and sometimes clever) excuses in the book. These people have sold one left leg to the owner of that leg and he thought that was a hell of a deal. It’s quite cool to go back in time and see how/when/where they started… usually we get to know them when they’re in their 50s or so, but they’ve been around fooling the suckers day in day out.

    homo sapiens…. pretty stupid animal. Made to Gawd’s image…oh gawd….

  16. It’s like a ponzi scheme.

  17. Top 3 Names for my new Social Media Agency…
    1. Soczilla
    2. Social Stamped
    3. Word ‘O’ Mouf Marketing

    …all joking aside Steve, there are some wineries out there who are leveraging their social media presence into: increased brand awareness, improved trust from current customers, and increased impressions with new potential customers. I know this becuase I have made myself a ‘Fan’ of many wineries to evaluate them. Most do it poorly and only some do it right. You would have to ask those wineries if thier”ROI” is good or not, I would guess that it is.

  18. Why limit your recommendations (critique) to Social Media mavens. The Four D’s can apply to any type of consulting on any methodology, high tech, low tech or no tech (e.g., event planning, tasting room layouts). All forms of marketing and promotion have their version of advice givers, don’t they? Or do some provide more meaning?

  19. Tom, I’m not in a position to say anything about all forms of marketing and promotion. Probably some are more meaningful than others.

  20. Well done, Steve. If all of these self-proclaimed “social media experts” lived in the 19th century, they would be trying to sell us all on how to get the most from a telephone. Social media is but a tool to communicate and connect to others. Those that make it out to be something more, are selling snake oil.

  21. David Cole says:

    LMAO!! That is some funny and true writing! There is a guy doing a blog on internet famous. Nice guy, but am I am saying internet famous for what? He hasn’t done anything! He video interviews people, but not enough gets said. Your post makes me think of things like that. It makes me think of ROI for my wines, how much time I spend on it, etc, etc. Thanks for making me get a chuckle!

  22. …you forgot to make sure that someone gets to “monetize their assets” –that’s always a good one!

  23. Tastebud says:

    LMAO (too)… that reminds me, I need to send you samples.

  24. Actually, I’m not so interested in the money, myself. After attending a recent conference in which a panel of wine bloggers were all talking about what works and doesn’t work for getting your winery’s samples reviewed and how much wine they have stacked up in their houses, I wrote down four words in my notebook in big, bold letters that I plan on enacting:


    In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about!?! 😉

  25. lori narlock says:

    This is fantastic! Steve you ROCK! And just for the record, I took to heart a little bon mot you threw out in conversation once about SM. I’m paraphrasing, but it was: Good social media is when people show their personality that isn’t their office personae. I translated that as be yourself without the baggage of politics or selling when you write.

  26. Amen, a funnier take on SM I have yet to read….and don’t call me Sue either

  27. Mia Malm says:

    Not just LMAO but ROFLMAO!! A guy just followed me on Twitter who actually calls himself “The LinkedIn Rock Star”! You nailed this one Steve, even down to the meaningless self-promo tips that always start with a number (22 Social Secrets to Success!). The net is swarming with social & SEO gurus, mavens, experts, divas and rock stars. The tough thing is that some companies actually do want help in figuring out what social platforms could make sense for them, how will they cut through the clutter? I’d start by eliminating anyone calling themselves any of the above inflated titles. Goes with a theory I have about antique shops: if they replace “The” with “Ye,” add an “e” to Old or an extra “pe” to Shop, you know you are in for an overpriced swindle.

  28. How do you manage to turn out so many interesting posts one after the other? Do you not have a job to do? 🙂

  29. Dear Fabius, I have a job. But not much of a life otherwise. Besides, the blog isn’t as hard as it looks. Thanks.


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