If you’re running a startup, then you’re probably well aware that social media has a lot of potential for ramping up your marketing and growing your business.
It’s free to sign up to most of the major social media platforms and there’s the potential to reach millions of people all over the world. But to really benefit from your social accounts you need to have an effective, targeted strategy.
Read on for our newbie’s guide to social media marketing for startups.
Why social media is essential for startups
Social media is one of the most cost-effective digital marketing channels for startups and it’s also a key part of establishing an online presence.
By setting up social media accounts and using them as part of your marketing strategy you can:
- Boost awareness of your brand
- Engage directly with your customers and target audience
- Drive traffic to your website
- Increase lead generation and sales
As you can see, there are many reasons why social media is vital for startups to really get to grips with.
Social media marketing for startups: the essentials
There’s a lot of benefits to using social media, and large companies will have whole departments managing their social channels and creating content for them.
But social media for startups requires a very streamlined approach to ensure you’re making the most of your resources.
These are the essentials for startup social media marketing:
- Choose the right channels to reach your target audience
- Research and come up with a social media strategy
- Create a social calendar to ensure you post consistently
- Share a range of relevant content and use competitions to boost your reach
- Engage with your followers
- Use the right tools and software to streamline your social media marketing
- Consider paid advertising on social media after you’re set up
Following these essential steps when carrying out social media marketing for startups will ensure your success and help you make the most of this powerful marketing tool.
Which social media channel is best for your startup?
As a startup, you simply don’t have the resources to master every social media platform out there — you need to focus on the ones that are going to help you achieve your goals and connect with your target audience.
In order to choose the best social media platforms for your startup, you need to do some research into the people you’re trying to target. Consider where your target audience is based, what they do online, which social platforms they’re using, and how often.
You also need to consider your business and which platforms are most suitable for your product or service. For example, Instagram requires image-based content — high-quality photos or graphics, and videos. If your product isn’t very visual or you don’t have the resources to create relevant graphics, then it might not be the best choice.
On the other hand, if you’re a B2B startup then you should probably be focusing on LinkedIn to reach out to professionals and other businesses.
Planning a social media strategy for startups
Setting yourself up with social media accounts is just the beginning. You need to come up with a clear strategy that helps you to effectively use those accounts to establish a brand and market your startup.
Understand your target audience
As part of your wider marketing strategy, you should have done some thorough research into your target audience and come up with buyer personas.
Revisit your research and get an understanding of their interests, occupations, hobbies, concerns and general demographics. This will give you an idea of the kind of content that they will connect to and engage with on social media.
Research the competition
Select a few of your key competitors and do some investigation into their social media strategy. If you can, use a tool such as SEMRush or Keyhole to do an audit of their social content. Otherwise, you can do your own manual audit. Look at:
- Platforms your competitors are using
- Number of followers on each platform
- Type of content they post and how often
- Average number of likes and comments.
Come up with clear goals
Goals are going to focus your social media marketing, ensure that you’re working towards something, and help you track your progress.
Come up with SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) that align with your overall business goals such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, driving more traffic to your site, or increasing sales.
Your social media profiles and the content you post needs to be consistent with the rest of your startup’s branding.
If you don’t already have brand guidelines, then now is the time to put some together. Your brand guidelines need to cover everything from your logo, brand colours and font, to the tone of voice and the language that you want to use.
When people come across your startup’s Facebook or Twitter account, it needs to have a clear brand identity, so that when they visit your website they already feel familiar with it and instantly recognise the branding.
Creating a social media content calendar
To get the most out of your social media marketing, you need to post regularly and consistently.
The best way to stay on top of this is by creating a content calendar. You can fill it in a month or two in advance so that you can plan content ahead and schedule posts to be automatically published.
A content calendar will make it easier to double-check content before it goes out and minimise any mistakes. Plus you can get an overview of your content to ensure you’re posting a range of different things, as well as incorporating any events, holidays, or seasonal trends into your plans.
If you’re only posting to a small number of social media accounts you can probably just use a spreadsheet for your content calendar. It will include:
- Date and time it will be published
- Which platform to post to
- Any graphics or images
- Links to any content like blog posts or articles
- The aim of the post
As your business grows and you expand your social media marketing you might look into more advanced social content calendar tools such as SproutSocial or Hootsuite (more on those later).
Setting up social media profiles
When you’re setting up your social media accounts, it’s important that you fill out all the details for each one. A complete profile helps your startup to look professional and trustworthy.
You also need to be aware of the different requirements for each platform. All of them will need to link to your website and include a profile picture, but there may be small differences. For example, the size of your profile picture will need to be adjusted for each platform to ensure that it displays correctly.
Where possible, it’s worth trying to keep your handle or account name the same across all platforms to ensure consistency and keep your brand instantly recognisable.
What content should you share on social media?
Overall, you want the content you’re sharing on social media to be highly relevant and engaging for your target audience. In most cases, this will mean not being overly promotional in every single post.
Share content from your blog, product updates or releases, company news and announcements, behind the scenes, videos, and relevant articles or posts from other sources as well. You should also share user-generated content — images of customers using your products or sharing reviews. This will act as social proof and convince others to follow your business — as well as creating a community around your brand.
Competitions are also a great way to grow your social media following. They encourage people to talk about your startup, and share and interact with your posts, which will boost your reach.
As well as posting regular and relevant content, you also need to engage regularly with your audience on social media. Ask questions in your posts, respond to comments and mentions of your brand, and interact with your followers’ posts too.
Promote your social media channels
It’s also important not to isolate your startup’s social media accounts from the rest of your business. Social needs to be a cohesive part of your marketing and branding strategy.
There are a few ways you can do this, such as including links to your social channels on your website and in emails. Tell your customers to follow you on social media for updates, discounts, and competitions.
This is a great way to build long-term relationships with your customers, keeping them informed, and encouraging them to purchase from you again in the future.
Essential tools for social media marketing
There is a huge range of social media tools out there that can help you to manage your accounts, automate publishing posts, and help with creating content.
You can use a free tool like Canva to help create professional-looking graphics to share on social media. Adobe Lightroom CC is one of the best tools for editing images and it’s free to use as an app on a mobile device.
Buffer and Hootsuite are two of the most popular options for scheduling — you can bulk-upload your posts and schedule them for months at a time. They also allow you to keep an eye on mentions and interactions, as well as provide metrics on how your posts are doing.
BuzzSumo is a valuable (if pricey) tool for discovering trending topics and content ideas that will help you to connect with your audience. And finally, Feedly is a brilliant way to keep up-to-date with the latest news and content in your industry so that you can share relevant articles.
Measure your results and improve your strategy
There’s no point putting all that time and effort into your startup’s social media strategy if you don’t keep track of what you’re doing and how well you’re doing it.
You need to consistently measure how effective your strategy is and look for new ways to improve it — this will help you to achieve your goals and grow as a business.
Some of the key metrics to keep an eye on are:
- Number of followers: so you can see if your audience is growing
- How many people view your social media posts: this will help you identify good days and times to post
- Engagements: you’ll get an idea whether your content is relevant or interesting to your audience
- Clicks: this will tell you whether your content is helping drive traffic to your website
By looking at these results in close detail and using this data, you’ll be able to build on your social media strategy to get it where it needs to be. A lot of the tools we’ve mentioned above have analytics built in so that you can measure these key metrics easily.
While social media is an invaluable tool for startups, if you don’t do some planning and follow a clear strategy you’re not going to see any value for the time and effort you spend on it.
These tips will set you on the right path for creating and implementing an effective social media strategy for your startup — one that will build brand awareness and increase your audience and profits.