When trying to grow your startup, social media is a great place to start. It’s a cheap, effective way to stay connected and push your message. However, managing a social media presence on top of running a booming startup can be quite overwhelming.
The internet is saturated with content, both good and bad. An astounding 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced each day, and it’s important for your brand to break through the noise and reach your target audience. Luckily for your startup, an effective online presence can create a lasting impact and take you to the next level.
So, how can your startup leverage its online identity? We’ve created a list of tips for Social Media Day that’ll help startups get the most out of a social media strategy.
Research your audience
The key to a lucrative social media experience is understanding your audience. You can’t and shouldn’t try to reach everyone. Understanding who’s in your specific niche will help you fine-tune your social media strategy and reach the people you need to.
Some basic research can easily be done through social media platforms directly. You can learn many things about your followers, including their locations, genders, and languages they speak in the analytics tabs. You can also find out which posts resonate the most with your audience by tracking the number of engagements each post receives. Knowing these details will make the planning and content creation stages easier.
With an idea of who your “average user” is, your startup can forge better connections. Getting as granular as possible will really help fine-tune your startup’s social media and marketing strategies. Relating your startup’s key message to the audience’s interests and habits will lead to more authentic and engaging interactions. It’s easier to connect to your audience when you have a deep understanding of what they want out of their social media experience.
For example, followers of a B2C company likely are interested in the product or the company’s mission and they’re following social media accounts to keep up-to-date on sales or other initiatives that’ll push them to make a purchase. B2B company followers are more interested in learning how a company in an industry leader and what differentiates it from others.
Choose the right channels
Running a startup is time-consuming. Save time and resources, while improving your social media identity, by strategically choosing to interact on platforms that make sense for your brand. Not only will this save you time and energy but also help you drive engagement and communicate with your target audience.
With so many social media platforms out there, it’s tempting to join them all. Please note: you don’t need to be on every single platform out there. In fact, we highly advise against it. Use your company’s customer personas and the information gathered through your audience research to guide you through this decision-making process.
If your audience engages heavily with visual content and your startup produces compelling images, then using an image-based platform like Instagram is a great idea. The B2C startup Zola is a perfect example of a company that needs to be on Instagram and Pinterest. The wedding registry platform combines products from various stores to create a single list and encourages wedding guests to give a perfect gift. Zola is a very visual company that targets women who are engaged to register through the platform.
On the other hand, audiences that appreciate informative content and interact with authority figures would be best reached on Twitter or LinkedIn. Robinhood, for example, is an application that makes investing easy. They target millennials and offer up insightful information via Twitter and LinkedIn so they understand the basics of investments in cryptocurrency and ETFs.
A great way of tracking which social media channels are best for your company is through Google Analytics. Going to the Social & Network Referrals Search tab in the analytics site will give you a great overview of which networks are driving traffic to your website. Branching out to new audiences is important, but it should only be done after your startup has solidified its core relationships.
To be memorable to your audience, you must maintain a level of consistency across your social media accounts. All accounts should speak with the same voice and utilize consistent messages in ways that make sense for each platform. By doing this, you’re more likely to have your message stick.
Your startup’s posting schedule should also be consistent, and a variety of social media scheduling programs exist to make this task easy, including Hootsuite and Sprout Social. However, be sure to allow for some variability in post time and frequency. An overly manufactured feed can annoy users and appear inauthentic.
Going through each platform’s analytics will help you generate the best dates and times to post for your own page by generating a report on when your followers are online and when they engage the most with your content. Work this data into your social media strategy to increase the odds of them going through your posts and getting more information on your website. Be sure to check out Sprout Social’s fantastic guide on the best dates and times to post on each platform.
Perhaps most importantly, regular interaction with relevant users and hashtags will put your startup into important conversations. Regularly participating in Twitter Chats in your industry can also help your startup get noticed by the right people and position you as an authority in your field.
As with every aspect of your startup, social media requires thoughtful planning and clear goals. Leaving your social media strategy up to chance will only make the process more difficult and time-consuming.
Your social media plan, backed by your research, should include ways to measure success and leave room for alterations. A clear articulation of expectations puts everyone on the same page and mitigates potential errors. Taking the guesswork out of your strategy is especially important for those who are less confident in their skills, and it can guide the content creation process.
Begin your plan by setting up goals that will help your business achieve it’s overall business objectives, such as driving followers to the website or increasing your conversion rate. While obtaining likes on posts is always nice, engaging with your audience via comments and encouraging shares is what will truly help your company convert leads from social media.
Be sure to also take a look at what your competitors are doing on their social media platforms. See which sites they’re active on, where they get the most engagements, and what type of content they produce. This will help you make decisions in your social media strategy and gain inspiration for posts.
While most of the other planning will take place initially and periodically throughout the year, developing a social media calendar will aid in maintaining your online presence year-round. This will give you a better overview of when your posts are going out and making sure you vary the types of posts. A great general rule should be that only 20% of your content promotes your brand and 80% educates and entertains your audience. Social media is a place to establish yourself as an industry leader and develop your company voice.
Promote your accounts
Often, the people you are trying to reach have accounts on multiple social media platforms. However, they may not be aware that your startup has a wide-spanning presence, or that it even has a presence at all. For this reason, it’s important to promote your social media accounts whenever possible.
Since connectivity is the name of the game, your social media profiles should contain links to your accounts on other platforms. This encourages users to explore your startup across multiple platforms at a time where they’re already engulfed in social media. Chances are, audiences browsing the internet are doing so leisurely.
Email signatures, newsletters, and your website should all clearly link to your social media accounts. Even if people do not click the links, a constant reminder of your startup’s online presence will increase engagement in the long run. Your social media accounts should not be kept a secret, and you should show them off whenever possible. An occasional post here and there asking followers to connect on other platforms is completely acceptable and is also a great way to gain followers across the board.
Create interesting content
High-quality content gets the most engagement. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not as easy to do as it sounds. Your startup should focus less on promoting its product or service, and focus more on leaving its audience with a better online experience. As previously mentioned, a good rule to follow is 80% relevant, fun content and 20% posts centered around sales.
Your audience is constantly bombarded by advertisements and bad content. By breaking through the noise and being a positive contributor, you’ll win over your audience. Many startups have great stories to tell and you can use this to your advantage by creating an emotional connection to your audience.
After examining your competitors’ social media channels, you’ll get a better understanding of what resonates most with your audience. Flesh out your social media calendar with compelling visuals. According to Twitter, people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets with any type of visual element, including infographics, videos, and GIFs. And even if your company isn’t naturally visual, you can use great photos to showcase your company’s culture as Hootsuite did below:
— Hootsuite Careers (@HootsuiteLife) October 19, 2018
This is also a great way to merchandise your media wins and showcase your expertise in the industry. Golem Project, a startup that allows people to rent their unused CPU/GPU cycles and get paid in cryptocurrency, does a great job of this. See an example here:
— golem (@golemproject) June 4, 2018
Stock photos are an easy way of adding high-quality photos to your posts to grab attention. There’s a great variety of photos on iStock and Shutterstock that cost money, but there are also some great free stock photo sites, including Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash. Giphy is a great site for finding a variety of GIFs. Always be cautious when using random photos online as you can get in trouble for breaking copyright rules.
Interact with followers and influencers
Social media is on the front line for customer service interactions. One of the most important aspects of social media is its ability to connect people across the world 24/7. To get the most out of your online presence, your startup should value communication with your audience.
Engaging with your audience humanizes your startup, causing more people to speak positively about your brand. Social media allows you to converse with followers in real-time, giving you the opportunity to form relationships with people at all points in the buyer’s journey. From your planning stage, you should have developed a brand voice that’ll help present consistency when interacting with followers, whether it’s answering a question or responding to feedback.
Interacting with industry leaders and reporters can also help your startup get noticed. Industry leaders have large followings and powerful connections, and every interaction is a chance for exposure. Develop a relationship with these figures without shoving your brand down their throat. People turn to social media to connect, not be sold to.
Social media is incredibly dynamic. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for startups looking to gain popularity online. To maximize your chances of engagement and success, it’s important to stay on top, or even a step ahead, of internet trends.
By being an early adopter of a trend, you can put your startup at the forefront of popular conversations. This gives you the chance to become an authority, gain exposure and show off your proficient grasp of internet culture. Your audience will appreciate your diligence and your understanding of their interests.
No matter how big or small, turn to Twitter and engage with people on current events. From award shows to big sports events, you can use this opportunity to engage with people currently following you and reach new audiences. This gives your brand a personality that people will want to continue engaging with in the future.
And, along with the main federal holidays, there’s an entire calendar of national events. Most are extremely random, but some are sure to resonate with your brand’s messaging or industry. For example, today is Social Media Day. Every brand with a social media presence can join the conversation by using #SMDay on their posts. You can find Hubspot’s Ultimate Social Media Holiday Calendar here to help strategize and engage online.
The rise of social media has given startups a leg up when it comes to issues management, A/B testing, and market research. Tracking hashtags, keeping tabs on competitors, and searching for mentions of your startup will keep you up-to-date on important information. If you see a problem arising with your audience, you have the ability to quickly correct it before it turns into a crisis. Monitoring potential issues will ensure smooth sailing for your startup.
Analytics allow you to see how your social media plan is faring and how it can improve. Analytics software can quickly and cheaply pinpoint your audience’s demographics and interests. Most social media platforms offer some basic analytics for free, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And, hashtag analytic tools, such as RiteTag and Pixlee, can really help you finesse your hashtag utilization. Take advantage of the data and let it guide your plan. Pay careful attention to which posts are the most popular and what time your audience is online to further refine your strategy.
Make it a team effort or hire a specialist
Not everyone is a social media guru, and that’s okay. Collaboration can bring fresh ideas to the table and can increase efficiency. Despite what many people think, social media management is often a full-time job and burnout is common.
Avoid burnout and produce better content by having multiple sets of eyes on your social media accounts. This is especially helpful when directly interacting with followers. Having multiple people available to reply to messages can keep your inbox in control. However, remember to maintain a consistent voice no matter how many people are managing the account. Remember, you’re replying as the company, not yourself.
Managing a startup takes up quite a lot of time, so if you’re struggling to give your social media the time it needs to connect with your audience, hiring a public relations agency is a great investment.
At the end of the day, social media is a great way to engage with your audience and raise awareness for your startup. Take risks, show off your strengths, and let people know that you’re here to stay. There are no concrete rules, so do what makes sense for your startup and own it to help push your company toward achieving its business goals.