With the influence of the web and social networks becoming increasingly prevalent and omnipresent, the business sphere is undergoing an intriguing change. The power of social media and its inarguable capacity to produce impact has made it an incredibly important factor rather than being considered an afterthought. Be it brand popularity, content distribution, community interaction, lead generation or customer acquisition, social media platforms have emerged as vital, strategic cogs in each of these activities.
Nowhere is this profoundly seen than in startups. With lower budgets, lesser influence and very little list of customers, startups can really make the most out of the social media universe and enable it to function as an immensely beneficial resource. Despite such advantages, only a miniscule number of startups grasp the ways to exploit social media to its fullest potential.
Startups should understand that with Internet technology becoming increasingly simpler and accessible, the desire, ability and need to get connected and stay connected online socially keeps on rising among people. With billions of people connected socially, a well-planned, properly executed social media business plan can really give your startup a massive head start.
However, much like conventional marketing and advertising, established larger companies and corporate have almost unlimited resources to keep using social media and riding all the rapidly occurring changes to their advantage. Smaller companies and startups may not have the same resources at hand, but with social media you can still make a pretty good impact by getting creative and work your way around the lack of resources.
Social Media Marketing Strategy
Establish your primary objectives:
The first and foremost step in utilizing social media for your startup is to settle upon clear objectives that will aid you along the way. It is very easy to get caught up in the wide, colorful world of social media, wasting valuable resources. Therefore clearly defined goals sustain your focus and maximize your results. So what’s your primary goal or goals for your startup business?
- Build brand visibility: All the startups utilize social media to promote and grow their brand visibility and awareness. With strategic regular posting, interaction with users and promotion, this growth comes organically.
- Share content: One of the most common uses of social media, content distribution is the purpose for which a lot of brands use social media. With unique, interesting content, there is a natural spreading among the social platforms and your content can automatically advertise your company or brand
- Generate new leads: Social media is frequently used to generate new leads and entice the social media visitors to visit your website or blog. However, this process needs investment of time and resources before eventually paying dividends.
- Acquire new customers: The hope and intention for most startups indulging in social media is that ideally your company’s social media profile increases your brand visibility while bringing you new leads and these leads in turn convert into customers. The best usage of social media platforms and tools is through acquiring new customers.
Chart out a clear social media plan:
Like in every other facet of a business, a thorough plan is required for your company’s use of social media. No matter what kind of a startup you are, you definitely have to zero in on an effective social media strategy that fits within your company’s scope while giving you the maximum advantage of achieving your established goals.
Your business objectives play a major role in helping you design a social media strategy. You can study other social media campaigns for getting inputs as part of your research but remember that ultimately your brand is unique and therefore the strategy has to be individually suited to your startup. It’s always recommended to take in the best of examples out there and arrive upon a strategy of your own. Whatever the strategy is, consistency is extremely important.
Select your social network platform:
Internet is overflowing with social media platforms of different forms and functionalities. However, to even think about being on each one of them is absolutely not viable and neither is it helpful. Every business model is different and every brand expresses different vibes so you have to select the right social media platform that is both relevant to your brand while bringing your startup in direct touch with the targeted group of audience.
For a budding startup, it is advisable to be present on a limited number of suitable social media outlets so that it can help you manage and update those profiles regularly while building a nice, interactive rapport with your social media followers.
The following are a few of the major social media platforms that exhibit enough marketing and branding impact to your startup:
- Facebook – The largest social media platform, Facebook boasts more than 1.5 billion active monthly users. This is an incredibly diverse social media that caters to a variety of businesses and brand types. If you are thinking of taking your startup to the masses then this is the best place to begin with. Almost all of the top companies and brands maintain a Facebook page and it is the most obvious place to begin your social media strategy.
- Twitter – Twitter is another rabidly popular social network. In fact Twitter is among the most responsive social networks and a lot of Twitter users exhibit a strong brand loyalty. Twitter is probably the best platform for content sharing and individual customer interaction. With the addition of Vine, Twitter now has an added dimension of video content to boast of.
- LinkedIn – Linkedin is a social network for the professionals and for businesses. Any B2B startup and companies looking for business tie-ups will find Linkedin to be a fantastic social media platform.
- YouTube – With video being its form of content, YouTube is probably the best place to build brand visibility. You can reach a different kind of audience through visually appealing or engaging videos to a widespread visitor base. Youtube also is a great tool for cross-market branding of your startup through sharing of video content.
- Google+ – Despite being one of the youngest social media platforms and a late entrant, Google+ has quickly captured a large active user base. With its parent company Google being synonymous with the Internet, it is always recommended to have an engaging profile here to getting found more frequently on the Google search engine as well.
- Pinterest – A unique social media platform that stands out from the rest, Pinterest is a valuable tool if your startup is suited to the type of platform it is. It is among the fastest growing social platforms and caters to a particular set of brands and businesses.
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Develop an online community:
One of the most fundamental purposes of building a strong social presence is to let your startup develop its own online social community. By having a manageable number of social media profiles, you can successfully interact with your audience and establish strong connections with them. By doing this over time with consistency, you can understand your customer’s needs, their satisfaction quotient and their feedback.
Always exhibiting your business with a human personality helps in building a stronger community rather than having an indifferent corporate style page. You can put forth the information, products and services offer by your brand to your community in a naturally engaging manner.
If you are a B2B company or a healthcare organization looking to build a strong community around your brand, you may opt for LinkedIn. For instance, Philips Healthcare has built an effective and a strong community by devising a smart strategy on LinkedIn. Take a leaf or two from this case study on the same.
Serve your customer on Social Media:
Following on from the previous point for forming an active community around your startup, it is also important to serve your customers through this medium. By solving their issues, you can set a great example of an engaging brand that really cares about its customers. Even if they don’t have any issues, it pays to be attentive to their comments, feedbacks and even new ideas that they may share.
Using social media management tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer and Socialpilot, you can easily respond to your customers by managing your profiles better. These tools also let you track and analyze your customers’ needs and feedbacks in a better manner, helping you serve them better. Instant answers to their queries can create such a positive feeling for a customer about your company or brand.
Twitter is an excellent social media for offering prompt customer service. For instance the brand JetBlue ensures that they’re receptive to their customers through Twitter because according to them it’s important for continued customer loyalty. Apart from engaging with satisfied customers, the brand also responds to and helps upset customers promptly. For more examples of splendid customer service on Twitter, read this study done by Social Examiner.
Evaluate and Experiment:
A social media campaign never ends. The goals and plan keep changing according to the needs of the hour. Always ensure that your startup keeps growing socially. This can be done with regular evaluation and finding out what are the pluses and minuses of your brand and your brand’s social media implementation.
Social media trends change at lightning speed and the ways to impact audience change with that. So constant evaluation helps your brand be on top of any such changes. Lots of free social media analytics tools such as Klout, Quintly, Cyfe, etc. can help you with the analysis and evaluation process across different social media platforms. To know more about 5 important tools that help to measure your social media marketing results and analytics, read this piece by StreetFightMag.
Never be afraid to experiment or think outside the box. Staying within the realms of your brand’s essence, you can come up with creative ways to engage with the audience. Some of these experiments may work while others may fail, but keep doing this as you can come up with ways on how to go viral with your posts and campaigns. Social media is a universe where people love creativity and brands that go creative are more often than not rewarded with great public affinity in return.
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