What if someone told you can make a living out of Facebook? Or that the more time you spend on various social networking sites, the richer you can get. Take for instance, the cases of Inderjit Vasudevan Moorthy, Karthi Sekar and Sorav Jain — a former TV producer, a gym owner and the third, an alumnus of Leeds University. They understood the influence of social media marketing and are now experts at it.

From multi-million dollar corporate companies to the store next door, it’s a tool everyone is investing in. Even celebrities and politicians hire professionals to make sure that their Twitter and Facebook pages are always abuzz. The job of the social media manager is not only to draw attention to their client’s social media profiles, but also keep visitors engaged with them. More importantly, ensure that the visitors return regularly. These three men were like any other users of social media till they stumbled upon the business aspect of it. And now it gets them their bread and butter.

Sorav Jain, 27

Many of us may have forgotten Orkut, but Sorav owes his career to the site. “I started at 17 when I was a student at Loyola College, Chennai. I used to work as a content writer and was learning about Search Engine Optimisation. This area caught my fancy. Orkut was the first social networking site that I started with. I was an Orkut addict,” says Sorav. He joined a start-up after he returned from the U.K., where he studied international marketing management. “That was when I started blogging. The directors of a Spanish personal branding company approached me after reading my blog and asked me to join them on their board of directors.  I was too young to handle that and I gave them the option of outsourcing their needs to me. This inspired me to quit my job and take the big leap,” says Sorav, who started Echovme, a digital marketing training and services firm. “I now employ 15 people and we have clients like Cashkaro.com, Bosch India, Kay: The Fashion Bay and more. We also work for politicians and celebrities,” he says. He has also published a book titled Social Media for Business: Stories of Indian Brands .

Karthi Sekar, 40

Karthi was looking to promote his gym and yoga studio when he discovered the potential of the social-media business. “My friends noticed the presence of my enterprises online and started asking me for tips. Soon I was helping them out,” says Karthi, who started Brand Width in 2011. He works out of Alwarpet in Chennai and handles clients such as Udhaiyam, KGS Developers and Kaizen.

The scope of online marketing is vast and each site reaches a specific group, he says. “I was working for this NGO that required volunteers in rural areas. That entailed taking a break from their job. Most of the volunteers were foreigners. I decided to tap LinkedIn for Indian volunteers. We soon had the desired output,” says Karthi, who asserts that one has to be on the lookout for opportunities and update knowledge to make social media a successful business proposition.

Inderjit Vasudevan Moorthy, 31

A high-school dropout, this entrepreneur never let that tag affect him. He worked as a producer with a TV production company. A regular on Facebook, he saw many people use the site as a medium to vent their ire about Chennai. He decided to start a fan page, ‘I Love Chennai’, for the city he loved. “I remember inviting two of my cousins, the next thing I knew I had more than 100 followers. I started updating pictures, uploading articles celebrating the spirit of the city and uploading multimedia content. In no time, I had over 1,000 likes for the page. I started the page last May; by August I got my first sponsor. Our display picture had their logo,” says Inderjit.

That page is now called ‘My Chennai’ and now has 477,489 fans. He realised its impact and began exploring the social medium further. He came across the Chennai Traffic Police page on Facebook and noticed scope for improvement. “I met the (then) Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Sanjay Arora. He was more than happy to help. Soon, a team was formed and we started reworking the page,” he says.  Today, it is one of the best maintained pages where action is taken immediately on complaints. He manages the page now.

Inderjit’s Ikebana Consulting has clients, including the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu and Chennai Metro Rail. A team of 11 people work with him. “This industry is still in its infancy. A lot more can be achieved because it connects people directly with clients,” he says.