3 Guidelines for Young Startups Starting out with Social Media Marketing

By Gaurav Belani

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No matter what your shiny new startup is all about, you simply cannot grow it to stellar heights without leveraging social media as a marketing tool. A strong, authoritative presence on social media with devoted followers is what separates an ordinary business or startup from a thriving brand.

Without a doubt, your audience and clients are online. The data doesn’t lie:

  • Nearly 3.5 billion people (or 45% of the entire human population) use social media actively.
  • An average of 2 hours and 22 minutes are spent per day per person on social networks and messaging.
  • 54% of social browsers use social media to research products.

As a consequence, marketing on social media may seem a tad bit intimidating when first starting out with a business account. But don’t let it get you down, because not leveraging social media means leaving a ton of money on the table. With a low customer acquisition cost (CAC) and high customer lifetime value (CLV), social media is where your startup’s limited marketing budget should be directed at.

Here are three guidelines to lay the foundations of correct social media marketing for your startup or small business:

Understand your target audience and platform

Before you do anything, take the time to research all you can about your target audience ? not just their age group, interests, and likes/dislikes, but what motivates them to purchase something, what content they might find offensive, and so on.

Determine where your target audience typically hangs out online. You don’t need to be present on every platform. For instance, if you want to market your new restaurant or cafe, a strong presence on Instagram and Facebook will suffice. On the other hand, if you’re a B2B SaaS startup, focussing on LinkedIn and Twitter might be your best bet.

You don’t want to waste your time and effort posting your valuable content on the wrong platforms where you’ll find little-to-no engagement and consequently, little-to-no ROI.

And so, take some time to do your homework. If you have a customer base, survey them. Ask them what social networks they prefer or use the most. Analyze your competition’s strategy. Which platforms are your competitors focusing on? Don’t guess. Use data to decide which platforms you should really direct your energy on.

Go all out on visual content

In essence, social media marketing boils down to posting enthralling visuals? photographs, illustrations, GIFs, and videos? consistently. This is true for all major social media channels. You may not consider Twitter as a visual-first social platform, but Twitter’s internal data shows people are three times more likely to engage in Tweets that include visual content.

Millennials and younger audience which forms a huge chunk of social media users prefer and just can’t get enough of visual content. Even if you’re not selling mouth-watering steaks or seductive knickers, uploading high-quality images is better than unexciting text.

Ideas for visual content are galore. For example, you can reveal your startup’s work culture with some beautiful behind the scenes images. Or, how about showcasing picture testimonials of some happy clients? Maybe create a short how-to video that demonstrates your product’s usefulness?

Simply put, if your content isn’t appealing, no one would bother to stop scrolling and engage with what you have to offer. So, strive to create remarkable visuals or better yet, hire a professional designer to do it for you.

Focus on driving engagement

The best part about social media is it allows you to show the “human” side of your business and engage with the audience in a genuine yet informal way. A major part of this two-way communication is possible via comments on your posts.

Replying to comments drives more engagement and helps build long-term relationships with your existing and prospective clients. Moreover, reply to all direct messages in a timely manner. Make sure to respond courteously and never get offended by trolls? the internet is rife with them. That said, don’t turn a blind eye to negative comments or feedback.

Treat negative feedback as an opportunity to show that you care about your customers and that you value their opinion. Assure them of a better experience next time. This is how you’ll build a loyal fan base and customers who’ll stand by your brand for years to come.

Plus, whether you like it or not, people will always be talking about your business across the social sphere (including on review sites like Trustpilot). They could be lauding your business or criticizing it. Use tools like Mention or Brand24 to keep track of online mentions of your business across the web.

Of course, you cannot please everyone on social media (or in life for that matter). So, always assume full control over your social feed and again, respond to both types of mentions in a tactful and timely manner.

What best practices do you follow for marketing your business on social media? Do share them in the comments below!

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