In a world where Barack Obama and your grandma are using hashtags, you better believe it’s crucial for your startup to establish some sort of social media presence. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling clothes or code — dipping your toes into the pool of likes, tweets, and shares is a must for all modern businesses.
As an up-and-coming entrepreneur, social media has likely already played a key role in your personal rise to prominence. You’ve used it to express, promote, and establish yourself as a leader in your industry — why not have it do the same for your startup?
But, here’s where it gets tricky: Who actually has enough time (or manpower) to create and maintain active accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Not to mention LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Periscope, PHHHOTO, or whatever other new hot platforms pop up in the future?
Don’t drown in the social seas and create too many accounts that eventually turn into ghost towns. Instead, only pick and choose the outlets that best suit your startup’s identity and mission.
Should I Post, Tweet, Gram, or Snap?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a scientific formula that deciphers which platforms a brand should utilize. However, there are some general guidelines my PR company uses when helping our clients get the most from their social resources.
For those just getting started, we recommend focusing on the big three:
- FacebookWith nearly 1.5 billion active users every month, Facebook provides startups with a second-to-none audience size. You’re given an unlimited amount of characters to tell your story, and it’s a great place to share news, updates, links, and promotions with your fan base.
Facebook also offers robust advertising features that — for a fee — can attract new customers through domain ads, sponsored posts, and sponsored videos. I’ve seen a lot of my clients successfully use Facebook Ads to generate and convert leads.
- TwitterThough it has an oppressive character limit, Twitter is the best way to really dig in and communicate with your audience in real time. Using hashtags and buzzwords, you can easily search the platform for ongoing conversations and add in your two cents. It’s a great option for sparking discourse, establishing your brand’s voice, and remaining active in your community.
Also consider, however, that Twitter’s real-time nature makes it ripe for customer questions and complaints. With that in mind, be prepared to both spark and extinguish fires when you join this outlet. As a rule of thumb, follow the “one-third rule” on Twitter: Compose one-third of your tweets about your company, one-third involving your industry, and one-third concerning customer engagement.
- InstagramPerhaps you’re a design-focused startup, and words cannot express the value your company provides to the world. Luckily for you, Instagram is all about the eyes. It offers a great opportunity for companies to show the world how great they are — and the benefits of this platform aren’t just limited to the artsy types.
Leaders behind a brand can find creative ways to showcase themselves. Maybe you can post a picture from a companywide happy hour that shows current and prospective clients how happy your team is, or perhaps your office has beautiful exposed brick walls and a state-of-the-art coffeemaker that you want prospective employees to know about. Instagram enables you to provide a fun, behind-the-scenes look at your company.
Narrowing down your early efforts to the big three will make establishing a social media presence a far less daunting endeavor. But maximizing the impact of the time, energy, and resources you devote to the task is no easy feat.
How to Make the Most of Your Social Presence
Here are four tips for startups looking to make a splash with their early social media presence:
- Analyze the competitionTake some time to see how other brands in your industry are using social media to engage with their consumers and to drive new leads. What seems to be working for them, and where are they falling flat? However, don’t replicate what they’re doing; instead, pick and choose the best aspects from every competitor’s strategy and incorporate them into yours.
- Promote yourselfNever miss an opportunity to promote your Twitter handle or Facebook page. Put them in your email signature, pepper your website with links to them, and even put the URL on your business cards. Get the word out, and make sure your customers can find you. Also, consider spending a little extra money on promoting your tweets or sponsoring posts on Facebook and Instagram to make sure lots of eyes are seeing what you have to say.
- Listen and converseRemember, this is social media — you’re supposed to have two-way conversations with other human beings. Be sure to respond to questions and comments, even if they aren’t high priority. Regram a cool Instagram post, retweet other people’s tweets, and give the occasional shoutout to a loyal follower. Talking at people will quickly get you muted, but speaking with them will provide a vital human aspect to your brand.
- Test, test, testWondering what time of day you should post on social media? There’s only one way to find out: Send out some tweets in the morning, during lunchtime, and toward the end of the day. Then, track the analytics to see which performed best. Facebook offers a built-in “Page Insights” feature that allows you to track anything from the amount of views your page gets to the time of day people click your links. This is invaluable information that will help you further hone your social craft and ensure you’re sending out the right stuff at the right time.
For modern startups, social media is a pivotal tool that helps build your brand, grow your audience, attract new customers, and engage them in a way that feels transparent and authentic. Don’t stay silent just because you’re new to the game. Join the conversation, tweet at the president, and reap the benefits of a vibrant social media presence.