Success stories of startup companies such as Distractify and Airbnb prove that a great social media strategy is the cornerstone of a strong company launch. An effective social media presence can help brand new companies create meaningful, lasting relationships with their clients. Using social media for customer service, recruitment and feedback can put your company ahead of the game.
As a startup, we know all about the process—that’s why we’ve decided to share the social media tips that helped us grow into the company we are today.
Here are 7 social media tips for young businesses
Tip #1: Create your social media strategy before creating social media profiles
Even before you start choosing the right channels, think of your business goals and objectives, and how social media can help achieve those. Also think of your target audience, and what kind of company you want to be on social media. Will your brand go for a practical, no-nonsense approach to social messaging, or do you prefer a more easygoing presence? Make your social media presence congruent with your company culture. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a playful Tweet every once in a while—but do strive for consistency across your feeds. Compare Tinderand Dropbox, both voted top startups in 2013 by Forbes—each brand has a different purpose and a different target audience, with Dropbox creating an appeal for business collaboration, and Tinder going for the playful vibe of a speed-dating event. This difference in purpose is reflected in their social media presence: while both companies maintain professional feeds with consistent tones, each tailors their messaging to their audience.
Tip #2: Choose the right social networks for your business
Facebook may have over a billion users, but if your potential customers don’t make up a big part of that user base, it’s not the right social network for you. 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 for you: the target age group of your audience, the location of your business, and the nature of your services. For example, if your startup offers B2B advice, it helps to seek out business leaders on LinkedIn, and make accounts on the same social media channels used by the brands you want to help. But if your business revolves around marketing, Facebook Ads or Promoted Tweet should be your first choice.
Tip #3: Save money on customer service by using social media
In the early days of your business, having an open line of communication with your clients is crucial—your ability to respond and incorporate their comments and suggestions on your services or products can make or break your startup’s budding reputation. It’s also a very cost efficient solution, as your customer support representative can double as your social media manager, and social media profiles don’t cost a dime to set up.
Using social media for customer service is as easy as making social listening a mandatory task in your daily social media routine. Use a social media management tool, such as Hootsuite, to set up search streams for your brand name, and track all mentions in real time. Sentiment analysis tools like Social Mention, or native analytics tools in Hootsuite, can help you isolate negative or neutral mentions of your business, and then address as many of them as possible, based on the urgency of the issue.
Tip #4: Expand by recruiting new team members on social media
A startup’s online audience isn’t limited to potential customers and investors. If your company is looking for passionate, talented individual to join your cause, they may be among your social media followers. Once you have an open position, make sure to spread the news on your social media channels—especially if you’re looking for someone savvy with social media. Use social networks like Instagram to highlight company culture and share company milestones. Sharing these moments allow you to easily see how fun it can be to work at a startup.
Tip #5: Build an online community of brand 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 startup. You can use this opportunity to look for social media influencers, and turn them into brand ambassadors. These ambassadors provide startups with the exposure they need to grow into a global brand.
Tip #6: Evaluate your social media strategy regularly
Startup companies can get overwhelmed by the fast pace and growth. Once you have set up your accounts and developed a social media management routine, schedule regular temperature checks for all your channels to maintain a steady presence. Tools like SocialBro and Hootsuite’s Grade Your Social evaluate your Twitter presence with one click; you can receive reports on your engagement, reach and profile strength. If you find that your customers don’t engage as well on one of your startup’s social channels, check to make sure you haven’t been neglecting that channel.
And last, but not least:
Tip #7: Don’t be afraid to experiment
While it helps to be aware of strategies that work traditionally, we encourage you to think outside the box. After all, the essence of startup spirit is to problem-solve in an innovative, efficient way. Just think about it: there must have been someone who had the “crazy” idea to reply to a Tweet using only GIFs or Emoji, or include a Vine video to illustrate a Facebook message in a way a photo couldn’t.
Mark Thomas is a nationally known marketing strategist and was honored by PR News as Communicator of the Year in 2011. Now he helps small businesses take advantage of big brand strategies and tactics to become successful.