It is not impossible to make money from your social media efforts, however, it is difficult.
I read an interesting article today at Business Insider which presented the viewpoints of people at Klout, Ticketmaster and Radian6, on how best to make money from social media.
You will no doubt be surprised to hear that no one presented a step-by-step guide to making money from your social media interaction. (Surprise!) They did present some interesting viewpoints on the best way to use social media for engaging with users. What you do with them once they are engaged has more to do with your business plan than it does with your social media efforts.
See, that's the point I am forever trying to make. Social media is not an end result. You simply cannot expect that your 50,000 Twitter Followers and 100,000 Facebook Fans will equate to increased revenue. It simply means you have someone's attention.
Think of it this way: Your favorite band takes the stage. The coliseum is packed with 40,000 screaming fans, of which you are one. You already have all their albums; you love their music, that's why you're a fan. Now ask yourself, what can they do, on that stage, right before your eyes, that would get you to shell out a few extra bucks for something of theirs you don't already own?
Play a new song? Show off a cool new t-shirt design? Promote their next album?
Each of those things represents a new revenue stream for the band; a new way for them to make money from the attention they already have garnered. In the same way social media marketing represents the tools the band used to bring the people into the stadium in the first place.
So, if the band sells more albums, t-shirts or brick-a-brack as a result of the concert they can attribute those new sales to social media and in this way say "We made money with social media."
Now ask yourself: What are your revenue streams; what is your pitch and how can social media bring you an audience to hear your pitch? In this way social media will make you money.