Startups are always waiting for the right time to go social. Why create a Facebook or twitter account when the company is not big enough or when the company isn’t making a lot of money? Please get out of that thought process.
There is no right time to go social for a startup but it is about ‘HOW‘ you go social. When I say how it just means how do you identify and use the right channels. Almost every company today has a social network account and that does not mean that you are social. What do I mean by ‘Social’? It means that your brand is proactive in nature and engages the audience on a regular basis by posting relevant content that would be of some use to them.
It is not just about having created brand accounts on all the social media platforms but it is about how active and well engaged you keep your audience. Now I know most companies have social media as the last item on their to-do list. This article is to educate you about the tools and platforms available at your disposal to get your Startup a meaningful social footprint.
Let us look at the available social networks. I am going to talk about those that I have used extensively over the past one year and the ones from which I have managed to get a ROI (Return on Investment).
- Facebook: Good place to have your brand page. Access to insights for free. Gives you insight on posts and you can decide if you want to boost it or not.
- LinkedIn: Create a community to help generate leads. This is a good place for you to identify your target audience as only the ones that are interested will join. Mostly work for B2B rather than B2C in terms of generating leads.
- Google+: Known for communities. A lot of variety over here. Join the ones that are relevant to your startup and address the issues that you can solve.
- Twitter: Once you create your account all you need to do is tweet about issues that you care about and how you are going to solve problems. Do not sell your services or products. Engage your audience with information and do not forget to mention your influencers.
- Instagram: If your company is heavily involved in social marketing then this is the right place for you. You can figure out how and why social marketing is relevant & important from this article Social Marketing: Why We Need It Now More Than Ever.
Most startups that care have already taken the initiative to build up their profiles on social media. Now the most important factor that plays into all of this is how do you leverage your brand on social media.
Let us look at platforms:
- Klout: I consider this to be a platform where you can gain insights into who your influencers are and how do you get their attention. It is also about finding very specific topics related to your industry and audience. It does give you a score called the Klout score which is calculated based on the impact your posts create on social media.
- Here you can see the topics that I am interested in and also the ones that are star marked mean that I post content relevant to those the most and also that these posts get a lot of engagement on social media. Click on explore and then you select the topic that interests you the most. You get all the latest articles in the industry at one place but the most important thing to notice here is the list of experts you get.They would show up on the right.
- This is a very good place to follow and connect with influencers.
- Hootsuite: This is a place where you can see all your social media activity at one place. All the accounts can be synced to this and it populates feed from different accounts onto one dashboard. Here’s my dashboard to give you a brief idea about how it looks.I have just connected twitter and Facebook and as you can see it shows me this at one place. Now the reason why I use this is because of two things.
- The scheduling option helps you select the posts that you want to be published for the week on any day.
- It also does it based on how well you previous posts have performed and posts the new one on similar times to get maximum reach.
- Now you can write your post and click on auto schedule.Also select the networks on which you want to post. If you click on the calendar option there you will get the days that you want to choose. I can schedule it only weekly because I use a free account. As you can see that these two free platforms if used well put your startup on the social media map. See how these platforms are integrated with your social media accounts and how easy it is to schedule posts.
This whole article has been about setting up a meaningful social footprint. The reason why I stress so much on this is because all startups have their own brand pages, accounts and communities but how many of them are actually leveraging both the platforms and their social media profiles to reach their target audience?
- YouTube: Even if they do most of them are selling their products and services rather than listening to the problems that their customers are facing. To grow your audience and create maximum impact there is no place like YouTube to get started with. Let me tell you why YouTube?
- It is the second biggest search engine next to google.
- You can upload videos about your brand.
Now the differentiating factor comes from the second point. This is where most startups forget to tell their audience ‘why they actually do what they do and end up talking about what they are selling’. Let me cite an example to tell you how effective this channel can be if used right.
I like the videos from this company called KENZO. They recently released an Ad for a new perfume called KENZO World- The new fragrance.
So what I love about this is it has nothing to do with the company selling the perfume but more about the creators behind this video. It is entertaining and fun to watch. It also does not address any issue their customers face.
This is where it gets interesting, videos that turn viral are the ones that entertain and not educate. This is a fact but also do remember that when you try to sell services or products it would get the lowest engagement. They are not selling anything here. My interpretation is this perfume lets you do the thing you love the most when you get bored. That’s my interpretation of this.
- That is the key here. This video is addictive and I love the energy in this video. This is all that matters for a video to go viral and it has in just a week. It is about how you create amazing content and engage your audience in the process via social media platforms.
Now if nobody was paying attention to this brand they would now. Probably most of them wouldn’t buy a perfume after watching this but they would go back for more amazing content the next time they release an advertisement and boom you have a subscriber base.
- Blogs: I say this is a must have this as a platform. This is a way of telling your story and reaching out to your audience. I like this platform because you own it and you have total control over it when compared to other social media sites. You can create a genuine following and use this as a forum to connect with your audience and listen to their issues and figure out how your startup can help them.
- Podcasts: This is a means by which you can give a voice to your brand. Have talk shows and influencers talk about what your brand is doing for their customers. You can entertain and educate your audience at the same time via this platform.
I have covered almost all the concepts and ideas. Implemented them to create a social footprint for my personal brand. I still have a long way to go. Please do remember that your startup is no different from a personal brand. The process to make it go social remains the same. It all depends on who handles it and the belief they have in what your startup does. The more invested a resource is the better the outcome.
It is not hard to do all of this but it demands a lot of time and constant focus to ensure that you truly become more social. Once you do start with this and gain momentum do not quit. It would be difficult to obtain that same momentum later if discontinued.