Since the advent of social media in the 2000s, a new frontier of income generation has been created. It enabled instant communication with a community created based on similar interests.
Sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok are all designed with the idea of fostering miniature communities. But while they have created a kind of shortcut to making friends, they’ve also become a great way for corporations to advertise directly to consumers.
Majority of people with internet access and smartphones use at least two social media sites. Through these, companies place ads to enable users to make purchases as fast as possible.
Because social media platforms rely on content by users to keep people online, they have created revenue-sharing programs where content creators who meet certain criteria can earn income every time their followers see ads while consuming their content.
Twitter, now X, is a platform that has struggled with revenue generation since its inception. Many Twitter users made money through sponsorship deals or direct advertising. However, users needed to have a very large following and an impressive engagement rate. X has recently changed its policy to allow users to get income by simply posting tweets.
Since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the platform has made Views visible to show non-responsive engagement. In addition, Musk introduced Twitter Blue (now X Premium). This is a subscription service where any user can get a verification mark and get their replies prioritised when commenting under a tweet.
This has created an unprecedented problem where impersonation accounts have been posting misinformation and disinformation. Musk then allowed politicians, media companies and select famous people to retain their verified checkmarks. Brands have golden marks, while politicians get grey ones. Influencers who had large followings either paid for Twitter Blue or decided to remain without a verification badge.
Twitter also increased the word count from 280 characters. Verified accounts have a larger word count and can also edit tweets. Verified accounts can post videos of up to two hours in length and a size of up to 8GB while regular users are limited to two minutes and 20 seconds and a file size of 512 MB.
Users can generate income on Twitter by getting sponsorships. These are deals with brands, products, or events where users are paid to post relevant content. Twitter requires users to show that such posts are paid promotions.
Another way is through brand partnerships. This requires promotions of the brand’s products for a specific time and representation. For example, a user can be hired by a jewellery company and get paid every time they wear the product publicly.
Users can also post affiliate links on Twitter where they can earn money every time people make purchases using the link.
Users can sign up for the X ad revenue-sharing program. To qualify, they need to pay for X Premium which is $8 a month (Approximately Ksh1,200). The account also needs to generate 5 million impressions three months before applying, and a minimum following of 500. The minimum payout a creator can get is $10 (Kes. 1460). However, only impressions from other X Premium subscribers count toward monetization.
The program was initially launched in February 2023 with more restrictive terms. Beforehand, only accounts with more than 15 million impressions over three months were eligible, and the minimum payout was $50 (Kes. 7300). The program opened up for select users initially but was open to the public in July 2023. Creators will also be subjected to an evaluation to ensure they meet the Creator Monetization Standards.
Apart from ad revenue sharing, creators can also get revenue from Subscriptions. These are posts that are shared with subscribers only. Users set up a price point that X uses to charge other users who want to subscribe to a creator’s content. Subscriptions is available to most countries including Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.
Creators can offer exclusive posts, get badges to show that they offer Subscriptions, Subscription tabs for Apple users who get a Notifications tab for any activities from Subscribers, and a dedicated Subscriptions link to share your Subscription on X with other users.
Creators will earn up to 97% of the revenue that X has earned by selling access to the Subscriptions. This happens until a creator earns $50,000 (Kes. 7.4 million). After reaching this threshold, users get 80% of the revenue X earns after in-app purchases.
For the first year of the program, X will share all the ad revenue generated with Verified and X Premium content creators. This is determined by the impressions of the ads displayed in the replies to the post. Payments are made to content creators through the payment partner.
X will also be sharing revenue through Subscriptions. The price point of each subscription is set by the creator. This determines how much money X pays out to the creator. Currently, X doesn’t allow users to change price points of Subscriptions. If a creator deletes their Subscriptions, they need to re-apply.
Users can only get payment if they can create a Stripe account. This is available in 110 countries, including Kenya. To confirm your eligibility, click the Settings button then click Monetization. This will show you if your account meets the eligibility criteria.
Everyone applying for the ad revenue-sharing program must be 18 or older. The account must have a name, header, profile image, and bio. Each account must have a verified email address and have enabled two-factor authentication.
Accounts affiliated with state media aren’t eligible for monetization.
Each account must be in good standing with Twitter. If the account violated the User Agreement, it isn’t eligible. Other circumstances where an account is not eligible include having been previously removed as an advertiser, and having a non-authentic identity, such as using a fake image of a celebrity or brand.
Sexually explicit content isn’t eligible for ad revenue sharing. Videos that are pyramid schemes or get-rich-quick endeavours are also ineligible for ad-revenue sharing.
Content that promotes violence, gambling, substance abuse or other activities considered illegal isn’t viable for the program.
Posting content protected by copyright doesn’t get any ad revenue.
There are two ways to monetize videos on Twitter:
YouTube allows users to create revenue with their ad revenue-sharing program. To activate it, your account needs to have at least 500 subscribers.
YouTube pays creators based on how many views they get per video. The cost per thousand impressions (CPM) determines how much creators get paid. For every thousand ad impressions, creators are paid a different rate depending on the country where the ad is from. The CPM can range anywhere from 40c to $12 (Kes. 58 to Kes. 1755) per 1000 views.
YouTubers can also use affiliate links and sponsorships. On live streams, viewers can send money directly to the creators’ accounts. In addition, YouTube allows membership subscriptions where followers can join a more exclusive inner circle where they get unique content for a fee. The creator can create tiers to determine what users can access. The more they pay, the more content they get.
Facebook allows users to include ads in videos. This is known as in-stream ads. Under this, Facebook places ads within your video where any revenue generated from views or link clicks is shared with the user who is eligible for revenue sharing. To qualify for revenue-sharing, your account needs at least 10,000 followers. Facebook pays around $0.01 per view. However, this relies on the user’s location, the original country of the ad, time of year and audience demographic among other factors. This is applicable to original video content or reels. GIFs, looped videos, or still images don’t qualify.
To confirm monetization eligibility, go to the Meta Business Suite on a desktop browser. The account must pass Facebook’s Partner Monetization policies. Each account holder must be over 18 years old. Only countries that are eligible for in-stream ads apply. Currently, this isn’t available for Kenyans. Gamers have to use different onboarding steps depending on the policies of the video game’s publisher.
Instagram pays about $5 per 1000 views for reels when enrolled in their revenue-sharing program. Like Facebook, when users enrol with the ad revenue-sharing program, Instagram places ads within the reels. This feature is only currently available in the US. However, Meta is constantly changing its policies towards revenue sharing. Instagram also has Subscriptions but this isn’t available in Africa but Meta policies have been adding countries in Europe and Asia since it was first launched for US creators.
Instagram is also a great platform for brand affiliations. Users can choose to create reels or static image posts and get sponsorships or use affiliate links to earn revenue. Branded content can be creative and get favoured by the algorithm if it is entertaining.
Instagram requires users to clearly label when a post is an ad. You can also post affiliate links in Insta Stories but it must be visibly displayed that it’s an ad or Instagram could restrict or ban the account.
Users can also add Badges during live streams. These are ways for followers to send contributions to the creator. However, Badge is only available to US residents. It does allow non-US creators to add Badges but by invitation only.
To earn any money directly from Instagram you need to have at least 10,000 followers and be aged over 18. Videos must have no other social media logos. For instance, if a video is crossposted from TikTok, the logo of the latter has to be removed for the video to remain eligible for monetization.
Instagram is constantly evolving new ways for creators to generate revenue. Following the Creators account helps keep users up to date.
Brand partnerships, and sponsorships are a great way to monetize content. TikTok also allows creators to sell products directly using TikTok Shop. Users can also collaborate with brands to sell their products for a fee in their account storefronts. These products can be advertised on videos and livestreams. Sellers can only operate from the UK, China, Hong Kong and Indonesia. The account must have 1000 followers, made over 50 videos in the last 28 days, and be over 18 years old.
For users outside of these countries, TikTok allows users to add affiliate links, offer exclusive content that can only be accessed by people who pay for exclusive access. TikTok also has a referral program which is available for all TikTok users globally. This is a program where TikTok users get rewards for referring the app to adult users who have never downloaded TikTok on their devices or owned an account before. Some countries like Egypt, Pakistan and Morocco cap referrals at 100 a day. It involves sending an invitation link that doesn’t need to be downloaded immediately. However, if the recipient opens the link and doesn’t create an account within the 24-hour period, the users won’t be eligible for the reward. The rewards can be traded in for cash using e-wallet platforms such as PayPal or bank accounts.
Users can make money directly from the Tiktok Creators Fund. To qualify, creators must have 10,000 followers, 100,000 video views in the past 30 days of application, and must be over 18 years old. Currently, only users from the US, UK, Spain, Germany and France qualify. The TikTok Creator Marketplace is also another platform where users can generate income but it has the same qualifications as the Creator Fund. Users can also receive cash tips if they meet the above criteria. It’s currently only available for US and UK-based creators.
Read Also: 5 Ways to Make Money Using TikTok in Kenya
Content monetization has proven to be a leverageable method of income generation. As of October 2022, there are over 4 billion social media users. Companies are constantly using social media to reach potential buyers and some creators are finding themselves a niche as a middleman or advertiser for these brands.
In Kenya, 51% of people own smartphones. A significant percentage of these are a ready audience where anyone enterprising enough can carve a niche for themselves to create a career out of it. Due to the saturation of certain spaces, content creation may not be a viable long-term career. Social media is volatile and users have to rely on the almighty algorithm to remain relevant.
Content creators can try being influencers every once in a while, to guarantee some revenue. Creators need to generate original content while influencers only need to post sponsored content for money. Not every content creator is an influencer but all influencers are content creators. Influencers have less independence when it comes to their personal brand because everything they post has to meet the standard of whatever company they’re representing.
Content monetization is a clever way of making passive income by sharing passions or creativity online. Anyone who wants to eventually make content creation profitable needs to enhance their creativity to stand out, take video and photo editing lessons to produce high quality content and invest in their appearance to match a specific aesthetic to make it easier for the algorithm to help users meet their specific audience.
With X’s constantly changing landscape, each social media user who wants to start for-profit content creation needs to consider what every other platform has to offer.