Information from Edison Research indicates that 68 percent of frequent social media users always have their phones with them. Other research notes that Instagram has 400 million users, and Facebook boasts more than 1.7 billion users.
Clearly, social media is still a major influencer, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Startups can’t afford to underutilize it as a means to connect with customers and promote their products and services. However, developing a sound social media marketing strategy is a challenge, especially for those who have little to no experience in the field.
Use the following tips to turn social media into one of your startup’s best friends.
Social media marketing strategies for startups
Before you embark on creating and managing your social media accounts, you should define your brand identity. That will be the basis for how you manage your social presence. Get together with your business partners at a convenient WeWork location, such as the South Williamsburg workspace in New York, and consider the following questions:
- What kind of personality do we want to portray on social media? You may choose to be practical and straightforward with your approach, or you may be a bit more easygoing. This decision may hinge on your target audience. Younger people might appreciate a more casual, fun approach, whereas other businesses and older professionals might be more drawn to a no-nonsense take.
- How will our social media presence connect to our company culture? For your social media to give an accurate view of your company and its values, it should portray the underlying values of your business.
Once you have a clear idea of the image you want to convey, you can dive into other aspects of your social media strategy.
Define your goals
What do you want to accomplish via social media? Outline concrete goals that relate to your campaigns. You may want to build brand awareness, acquire customers, generate leads, or just distribute content. Use measurable means to monitor your progress toward these goals. How many new customers do you want to acquire via social media? How many shares and likes do you want for your content? Having these goals in mind will keep you on track and help you make adjustments as you perfect your social media strategy.
Choose the right social media networks
Just because Facebook is the most widely used social media network, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a fit for your business. You need to analyze the facts and settle on a network, or several networks, that will be most effective for helping you reach your target audience.
Instagram is a useful platform because it may get your message to more of your followers. This is in contrast with Facebook, where algorithms play a big role in determining who sees what content. Also, if a post does well in Instagram, it is more likely to perform well on Facebook.
YouTube is a wonderful platform if you want to offer entertaining or instructional videos to your followers. However, the mentality on the site tends to be more negative than it is on places like Instagram.
Twitter has over 300 million active monthly users, and it is a good place to post links to your blog posts and other content.
Research the various social networks and their audiences. You might find that you have enough visual content to make a success of yourself on Pinterest. If you’re really trying to connect with young people, Snapchat may be a viable option. There may be much smaller, niche social networks where you can reach a highly targeted audience.
Whatever you do, don’t spread yourself too thin across social media. Focus on just a few platforms where you feel you can thrive. Experiment until you find the networks that generate the most engagement for your business.
Offer valuable content
Content is key when you’re trying to build a following on social media. Yes, some of the things you post can be purely focused on advertising, but if all you do is try to pressure people to buy, they will quickly tire of following you.
Offer content that informs and entertains your audience. You want to forge an emotional connection. The nature of the content you offer will depend greatly on your brand voice, but here are some ideas for the types of content you can post or link to on social media:
- Blog posts. These might say what is going on in your company or give tips on how consumers can get the most out of your products. This is a chance for you to show off your expertise.
- Videos. You might post tutorials, news clips, or funny shorts.
- Photos. This could feature your products, your employees, or anything else that connects to your overarching message.
- Infographics. These present information in a colorful, visually appealing way.
Don’t be afraid to reuse content. For example, you might use an infographic as the inspiration for a blog post or vice versa. Spread your content across social media platforms so you get the most out of it.
Use social media for customer service
You may find that some people will use your social media accounts to assault you with complaints that you would prefer be voiced by other means. However, don’t grumble at these complaints, and don’t ignore them. Use them as an opportunity.
Respond as promptly as possible to these negative comments. Be gracious. Apologize for problems, and offer customers solutions. If there is a technical problem with one of your products, direct them to a how-to page or tutorial. If it is an account-specific issue, direct them to your other customer service channels so you can get the issue taken care of as soon as possible.
Your mild, customer-oriented responses will help you show that you truly care about customers, and objective observers who come across these conversations will likely be impressed by the way you handle complaints.
You can also use these complaints to collect data. What problems do customers seem to have frequently? How can you make it happen less often?
Follow others and engage, engage, engage
Social media is a golden way to recruit brand ambassadors. Forge connections with social media influencers in your industry. For example, if you are a tech company, engage with tech bloggers. Follow them, comment on their works, and invite them to do the same for you. When you create these types of relationships, you’re on your way to creating brand ambassadors. These people will be able to honestly and enthusiastically promote your products on their own social media accounts.
Connect with other companies, too. As long as they’re not direct competitors, you can establish amicable relationships with other businesses in your geographic area or industry. These connections can further spread the word about what you do.
Be prompt about responding to comments on your posts. This can be as simple as saying “thank you” or complimenting customers on the innovative ways they’ve used your products. The more you can engage, the better.
Use tools to manage social media
You won’t manage your business’ social media the same way you manage your personal accounts. With your business, you’ll have a lot more followers, and the way you respond will be more important than ever. You’ll also need to make sure you don’t neglect any of your accounts.
Use social media management tools to make social media as easy as possible for you. These tools give you analytics, thus providing you with a comprehensive view of how your posts are doing. You can also create posts ahead of time and schedule them to be automatically posted. Some top social media management tools include:
- Sprout Social
Some of these have a free version, but if you want full functionality, you can expect to pay a fee.
Hire someone for social media
When you first start your business, your following on social media may be small enough that you can manage it with the human resources you already have. However, as things pick up speed, you should consider hiring someone whose job focuses solely on social media. This person might engage in social media marketing or focus exclusively on interacting with customers.
Social media plays a pivotal role for startups that want to reach as many people as possible. Use the above tips to create a successful social media strategy.