Creating a social media strategy for your startup

Social media is no longer just an optional channel for startups and small businesses. It's an essential way of connecting with your audience and getting your brand out there in front of people - plus it's much cheaper than other, more traditional, marketing channels. However, with hundreds of thousands of brands clamoring for attention, how can you ensure that your social media efforts add value? With a social strategy, that's how. We spoke to the team over at leading social media management platform Hootsuite about how startups can maximise impact with a social media strategy.

What's a common mistake a lot of startups make with their social media?

Beginnings are not easy for startups, especially when it comes to building a social media presence. Leveraging the power of social media is not new anymore to many businesses, that's why most of the startups are taking initiatives to capitalize on social media. However, using social media for business is not always easy and some mistakes can be made.

One of the most common mistakes that a lot of startups make with their social media is not having a social media strategy. Many of them struggle to iron out exactly what that is, let alone how to build one from scratch. For some others, social media is just an option or is seen as something easy and fun to use. But damaging your online reputation can be easy if you don’t do it right.

A social media marketing plan can help startups to accelerate their growth. It can create a critical foundation upon which the rest of their social media efforts can be based. It can also give startups a road map for what they need to do to reach their particular goal.

How can startups decide where best to focus their social efforts?

First of all, by having a social media marketing plan. They should set goals and objectives they want to achieve in terms of social media and brand awareness. Every action the startups take on social networks should be part of a larger social media marketing strategy. It means that every tweet, reply, like and comment should all be guided by a plan and driving towards pre-determined goals. If they take the time to create a comprehensive social media plan, the rest of their social efforts should follow naturally.

Startups can also decide where best to focus their social efforts by measuring the results. To prove that social media investment is worth it, they need to track how all the social media actions are influencing the interaction they have with their clients. Once they have identified what works and what doesn’t work on social, it’s time to adjust the strategy. Tracking social media ROI is not just to prove their social campaigns are valuable, it is also to increase their value over time.

What sort of data should they be looking at – is it all about follows and likes?

In business, metrics are synonymous with objectives and data with answers.

When it comes to social media, metrics are varied and depend on the social strategy. It can be reach, site traffic, leads generated, sign ups and conversions, revenue generated...

Social media data is the result, and it’s not all about followers and likes! It's all the information curated by users and collected from public web spaces. It can be data from social networks (tweets, comments, likes, shares…), organic search (keywords, hashtags…), publishing platforms (outbound links on blogs, forums, Wikipedia, opinion sites…) and public multimedia content sharing platforms (Youtube, Flickr, SlideShare…)

This is all data tartups should look at to measure and adapt their social media efforts.

How can startups be more efficient with their social media?

These tips will help your startup create brand awareness as well as meaningful, lasting relationships with clients.

  • Create a social media strategy before creating social media profiles. Think about business goals and objectives, and how social media can help achieve those.
  • Choose the right social networks. Each social media network has its own audience and service. The startups need to think about the target age group of their audience, the location of their business, and the nature of their services.
  • Recruit new team members on social media. A startup’s online audience isn’t limited to potential customers and investors, but also to potential talented individuals ready to join the startup cause who can help to grow its social media presence.
  • Build an online community of brand ambassadors. Startups can show their social media audience the people behind the product or service they offer. This is an opportunity to look for social media influencers, and turn them into brand ambassadors.
  • Test and measure Startups need to think outside the box. After all, the essence of startup spirit is to problem-solve in an innovative, efficient way! They shouldn’t be afraid to test some new social media campaigns and strategies. To measure, it's essential to use the right tools for each metric: Google Analytics, Salesforce, Hootsuite Analytics, Moz...

What does a basic social media strategy contain?

Success stories of startup companies prove that a great social media strategy is the cornerstone of a strong company launch. A basic social media strategy must contain:

  • Objectives and goals. These allow quick reactions when social media campaigns are not meeting the expectations, and to prove the ROI.
  • Social media audit. Who is currently connecting to the startup via social media, which social media sites does the target market use, and how does the startup’s social media presence compare to its competitors?
  • Relevant social media profiles. That means choosing the networks that best meet the social media goals, as well as building or refining them with the audience and goals in mind.
  • Social media benchmarking. The idea is to get social media inspiration from industry leaders, competitors or clients.
  • Content plan and editorial calendar. Great content is essential to succeeding at social media and creating: a content marketing plan and calendar is necessary.
  • Tracking and measurement tools. Testing, evaluating and adjusting the social media marketing plan is necessary for better results.

Does social media work for every business?

Sharing content with thousands of followers through social media is beneficial for any kind of business, but on one condition: having a customized strategy with the right content and the relevant social networks adapted to the business.

Any other tips for startups wanting to improve their social strategy?

Evaluating the social media strategy regularly is useful. Startup companies can get overwhelmed by the fast pace and growth. Once the accounts are set up and social media management routine developed, it’s important to schedule regular temperature checks for all the channels to maintain a steady presence.

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons


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