Since the whole world began hopping onto the social media train, businesses have felt the need to jump on board and start engaging with their audience through Facebook, Twitter and more.

Being a business on social media at its infancy was very straightforward. Now, the digital world has developed into a mass of content, and everyone is desperate to be the voice that’s heard above all others. The only way you won’t get drowned by the competition is by jumping right in and finding innovative ways to get your brand out there to the right people.

As a startup, this can be intimidating and difficult. You’ll find yourself battling against already established brands who dominate the social media sphere. Many are able to dump large amounts of cash into marketing campaigns whenever they want.

But don’t let that put you off.

Startups do have a noticeable advantage in the world of social media. Social users love what’s new and being the first to find ‘the next big thing’. Startups are obviously new by default.

Also, startups usually lack tons of resources or funding when it comes to advertising. Social media platforms are a much cheaper way to create brand awareness, build a reputation and acquire customers.

Word-of-mouth marketing has always been a startup’s best chance of success. This is especially true when working with a limited budget. Social media has significantly accelerated the pace at which word-of-mouth marketing takes place. As a small startup business, you can now reach millions of customers within the click of a button.

Rainbow chalk picture with social media icons

Why is it important?

Everyone is using it.

Depending on your target demographic, most of your audience are likely to be on some form of social media. At the end of 2016, there were around 1.79 billion active Facebook users and 317 million Twitter accounts. This just goes to show how effective (and, let’s face it, addicting) social media has become.

As technology advances, your target audience are now beginning to access social media on the move. Whether it’s with a smartphone on the way to work, or at home on the tablet or laptop. Unless these social media sites go down, this activity truly never stops. Therefore it’s important to engage these users as much as possible to reach as many people as you can.

Increase brand awareness, loyalty & sales

Chances are you’ve spent the majority of your resources (both time and money) on building a brand new site or app. Social media posts can make all the difference in getting it out there for the world to see. But social media isn’t like ‘traditional’ advertising, where you send content out into the world and hope something sticks. Instead, it’s about making it easier for customers to find and connect with you so you can create worthwhile connections and build community.

Building a strong social media presence creates brand loyalty. It’s easy to imagine why. When you’re engaging and interacting on social media, your business become less ‘corporate’ and more like what your company truly is — a group of people who share a vision. 

It’s also not surprising that 70% of business-to-consumer marketers have acquired sales through Facebook. When you are always interacting with your audience across different social media platforms, it gives them an incentive to buy from you instead of the competition.
Picture of lego figures in a store

Engaging with your audience

Social media is a key outlet. You need to use it to efficiently, otherwise your presence could fail to engage users.
There’s more to creating an effective social media presence that inspires engagement than being able to construct a delightful 140 character tweet. You’ll need to balance the actual content with more of the analytical aspects of social media engagement. Here are some tips on how to achieve this.

Choosing the right social media platforms

Don’t just simply choose a social media site based on the number of users it has. You should only be where your target audience is primarily. It’s entirely possible to reach them more easily on smaller platforms that are more concentrated with your target audience than one with more users overall.

You also need to remember to stick to a platform that focuses on what you’re good at. What’s the point in using YouTube if you’re not very good at creating videos. Instagram is all about images, so if you can’t take a decent picture or if your business doesn’t call for pretty images, then it’s probably best to steer clear. Your social media channel should be a good fit for your audience, but also for you and the industry your business is in.

Make it personal

When speaking on social media, being personal and unique is the key to encouraging user engagement. Instead of existing solely to self-promote, reach out to others. In your posts, include questions or suggestions that relate to your business or community. When your audience can reach out to you, they see your company as more personable, instead of as an automated social media robot. Nothing screams “spam” like a social media account that churns out generic content or links without any comment or description. Framing your posts with a question or quote will drive the engagement you’re looking for. If you’re brave, use an emoji or two! (Just don’t go overboard 🙃  🎈  😝  🐳  🤔  🙈  🍉 )

Listen

It’s no good spending all your time blasting out information about your business on social media. In order to get valuable feedback from your audience, you need to listen and respond appropriately. When used correctly, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter essentially serve as ongoing focus groups for your startup. From the feedback you can learn so much from your users so it’s important to hear what they have to say. You can also use conversations to show your audience the need you fulfil. If someone is asking for the best butchers in the area, if that’s you, you should respond with a link to your site.

Target users with ads

If you have a bit of cash set aside for your marketing, you could use some on social media ads as they are highly customisable. For example, Facebook ads allow you to target user by location, age, industry and even purchase history. Having implemented Facebook Pixel for our client Gap Medics, this allowed them to connect with valuable users and retarget the those who visited them. These people were far more likely to result in conversions.

Look at the data

In order to assess future performance, you need to look at the past. At the very least, spending a bit of time looking at Google Analytics will be invaluable. It can help you identify what has worked in the past and what has not been so successful, and potentially offer some guidance towards posts for the type of content that engages users the most.

As a startup, it can be difficult working with limited resources, but thanks to tools of social media (when properly used), you can promote your brand at very little financial cost. Learning the art of social media to discover how to drive word-of-mouth marketing and brand awareness can get you on the road to being a really successful startup.