Vieve produce hydrating protein water that is made for active people that need something refreshing and effective on the go. Speaking to us about how he uses social media, Founder and CEO Rafael Rozenson explains why he finds LinkedIn so useful and why patience is key for new startups.

Could you introduce us to your business?

Vieve is disrupting the sports nutrition market with a water-based protein drink that is packed with 20 g of protein. It is sugar and dairy free and, in our opinion, superior in taste to anything else on the market. Our aim is to make sports nutrition more accessible to a mass audience through our hydrating, fruit-flavoured protein waters. We are available on Ocado, Amazon, MuscleFoods, our own website and through around 200 outlets across the UK. We also export to 10 countries throughout Europe and the Middle East. We launched just over a year ago and are a Virgin Startup-backed business.

How important is social media to your business?

Extremely important. Being a small startup, we don’t have a marketing budget for much else other than sending out product samples. We rely on social media and word of mouth to increase the exposure of our brand. We also have a referral program that was launched last month that allows people to get 50% off from our online shop by sharing a referral link on social media. Since we launched, we've had almost 1,000 pieces of user-generated content, which we often reshare on our social media feeds.

Do you use social media to acquire customers?

We focus on social media, email and SEO to acquire customers. Social media is our third-most successful acquisition channel, although it’s often hard to judge if people have found your website through a search engine or social media.

Our conversation rate across social media is close to 4%, but again this could be higher as some people go on to buy through other retailers that stock our products.

LinkedIn has also been very effective for us and we’ve acquired several international distributors through their platform. With LinkedIn, people might see your post if it’s liked by one of their contacts, so this can open up a lot of awareness for your brand outside of your own network (e.g. buyers, investors, etc.). For example, one of our videos got 50,000 views on LinkedIn!

How do you manage your social media accounts effectively?

I’m very fortunate in having an amazing social media manager who does all the gritty work of actually managing the accounts. We discuss the overall strategy and then he goes out and implements everything. Previously I did it for myself, which was incredibly time consuming, so I was glad to find someone that manages it effectively. LinkedIn, on the other hand, I manage by myself.

What social media network do you find most useful for your business?

LinkedIn is the most effective for us in general, as well as the most effective in generating awareness within our trade (e.g. buyers). Instagram works really well for us as its very visual and allows us to easily highlight the quirkiness of our brand. We still use Facebook, although with the recent algorithm changes it has become less important for us.

How do you go about keeping your followers engaged?

To keep things engaging we try to provide our followers with relevant content. This usually consists of a combination of product news, fitness tips and user-generated content. Having attractive visuals is also important, so we always try to keep things vibrant. This increases the chance that people will actually stop and pay attention, as social networks like Instagram tend to be very passive mediums. We also run various contests and give away all sorts of freebies. For example, we recently gave away a free case of our Citrus protein water to anyone that reposted one of our posts (they just had to pay the shipping).

What are your top tips for startups in terms of using social media?

It can take time to build a following, so be patient. Look for partnerships with other brands and key influencers in order to help build your awareness. Contests are a really good way to build a following, although it can be tricky to keep followers engaged.  Most important, I think, is to find your own narrative and visual style of telling your story in a meaningful and engaging way.

How does social media work alongside traditional marketing channels?

Social media, for me, is an opportunity to amplify your messages and make your followers feel like they are part of your brand’s journey. It’s about having and building on a conversation, as opposed to a one-way message.

Visit the Vieve website.

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