How to Nail Social as a Start-up

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Social media is no longer just a procrastination strategy from the impending panic of finishing that project deadline you have. In the past decade, it has become less of an optional marketing opportunity and more of a priority. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become integral parts of brand awareness, content distribution, lead generation, and customer acquisition strategies for businesses.

This is especially true for start-ups, who have smaller budgets and less revenue. However, they are the most in need of good marketing strategies needing customers to make money and requiring money to get customers. Does it create a classic chicken in egg dilemma of what comes first, the marketing or the money? There is no easy answer, however, huge spending isn’t necessary for start-ups to run successful social media marketing campaigns.

Just consider the fact that Facebook is now responsible for a whopping 15.8 percent of total time spent on the internet, and the average social shopper spends an average of £113 when coming from Pinterest and £49 when coming from Facebook. (Source: http://www.greencandymedia.com/33-captivating-statistics-that-could-change-your-marketing-strategy/#.VONDcym4ksk)

Now that the importance of social media has been covered, let’s look at some of the details.

If there isn’t a plan, make one.

Here are some elements that make up a great social media plan:

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals. The more specific, the better. This includes:

  • Brand awareness. This will happen organically as you post content, engage with users, and promote your brand.
  • Lead generation. You would like your social media profiles to be lead generators that drive traffic to your website or blog. This requires a long-term investment and results are not immediate. Remember that patience is a virtue!
  • Content distribution. This involves an understanding of your brand’s voice: Use social media as one of your content distribution and dissemination platforms. Ensure engaging and unique content, and it’s possible that others could share your posts and advertise your brand for you. Posting regularly at peak times is extremely important (there are apps that can help pinpoint your audience’s best times), especially on Facebook and Twitter. For this purpose, you should develop an editorial calendar. Along with sharing your latest blog posts, try posting relevant news, photos, links and interviews you see around the web.
  • Customer acquisition. The best case scenario is that your social media profiles raise brand awareness, generates leads and leads turn into customers. Once you can use social media as a customer acquisition tool, you will have maximised its value.

“Does it really matter which social media channel I use? Aren’t they all just social media?” The answer is Yes and No in that order.

While not every industry has a clear preference for social media channels, there are important determinants that can help you find the right social network: your target audience age group, your business’ location, and the nature of your services. Depending on your strategy, approach, and goals, you should be able to determine which social media platforms are right for your start-up. There are currently five major social media platforms of potential value for start-ups:

Build a tribe

By this, we mean to build and engage a community. For long-term growth and success, the best thing you can do is build an online community of ambassadors. Behind every successful marketing strategy is a genuine human connection. Show your social media audience the people behind the product or service you offer: why you love what you do, and what served as an inspiration for your start-up. You can use this opportunity to look for social media influencers, and turn them into brand ambassadors. These ambassadors provide start-ups with the exposure they need to grow into a global brand. This won’t happen overnight, but a prolonged investment over many months and years will pay off.

If it isn’t working try something else, or better yet, try something new!

Once you your accounts are set up and you have developed a social media management routine, schedule regular temperature checks for all your channels. Tools like Audience evaluate your Twitter presence with one click; you can receive reports on your engagement, reach and profile strength. If your customers don’t engage as well on one of your social channels, check to make sure you haven’t been neglecting it!

Finally, never be afraid to try something new, be it in everyday life (like a new meal for dinner), or in tour social media profile. Breaking the mould or taking a leap outside your comfort zone doesn’t require a huge budget. It just requires a little courage and ingenuity. After all, the essence of start-up spirit is to problem-solve in an innovative, efficient way. Look at the #6SecondScienceFair Vine campaign for GE. The campaign encouraged fans to film their own science experiments, in order to build GE’s reputation as an innovator. It generated over 600 user submissions, 345 percent follower growth and 253,800 engagements, and all in a single week. Good luck!

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