New social media marketing channels for startups

Everyone knows about the benefits of using social networks such as Twitter and Facebook for their business by now, or has at least heard of them. However social media is a rapidly-evolving world where new networks can be born, applauded, and then become notably less popular (remember Ello, and, more recently, Peach?) Meanwhile, brands are proving that almost anything can be used for marketing – even dating app Tinder, if you get creative enough.

In such an environment, it can be hard to know which new channels are ones to consider focussing your energy on. But four alternatives are establishing them as contenders for your attention – and because nobody has really ‘cracked’ marketing with them yet, you’ve got a chance to make a true impact.


Snapchat is a platform where you send ‘snaps’ – photos with a caption – to your contacts. The interesting part? They self-destruct soon after opening with no remnant, what’s known as  ‘ephemeral content’. Not just for sending selfies to your pals, the ephemeral element of Snapchat  actually provides businesses with a unique opportunity.

Because the messages are only seconds-long, you can grab the attention of your customers instantly – there’s an almost compulsive element to opening a snap. And because the communication is so fleeting, it’s the perfect way to drill up a sense of urgency and exclusivity. You could use snapchat to provide a discount code that expires in 24 hours, or use it to provide exclusive previews of a product, for example.


Periscope is Twitter’s live-streaming service, and it’s pretty nifty. So far the most successful use of it has been #DrummondPuddleWatch -  a livestream of people trying to cross a giant puddle in Newcastle Upon Tyne. At one point over 20,000 people were watching it.

If you don’t have a giant puddle to hand, don’t worry. We use Periscope to stream our Virgin StartUp meetups, to stream snippets from workshops, and to share any moments we think might be interesting for startups. Because it’s Twitter’s live-streaming service, it’s broadcast to all your existing Twitter followers, meaning your audience is all there ready for you – it just adds an extra dimension of interactivity.


Vine has been around for a few years now, and while it didn’t take off the way it seemed it might have when it was first launched, it’s still a fun way to market your product or service. A Vine is a 6-second looped video clip – and like Periscope, it’s an off-shoot of Twitter, so you can share your Vine with your Twitter audience easily. Use it to showcase funny moments behind the scenes, provide sneak previews, or show something visually cool.

Because of its relationship with Twitter, you can also use hashtags to get people involved. Retail website ASOS, for example, ran a social campaign called #ASOSUnbox, encouraging people to Vine their own unboxing of their goodies.


Okay, so WhatsApp isn’t technically a social media channel – it’s a messaging platform, much like Facebook messaging. However it’s increasingly being used for marketing purposes. It’s particularly useful when it comes to customer service – sending a quick message to a business and getting a response is an easy way for the customer to find out more information, and it’s also a great medium for post-sale support.

Startups in particular have a better chance at using WhatsApp, as it’s a more personal way of marketing than traditional social channels, and you’re likely to have a closer relationship with your customers than large corporations. If you do use WhatsApp, make sure you have consent to use the phone numbers of your customers before you start contacting them, and don’t get spammy – limit yourself to only occasional messages.

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