Cisco Start-up Hub: Social media for start-ups
Social media or, as SoAmpli founder Maz Nadjm puts it, “how to make it look as if you actually have a marketing department” can be a vital tool for start-ups looking to build their audience and customer base. And not only because it’s free.
Maz took some time out to share a few top tips with the Start-up Hub on how to seize opportunities and make your online presence work for you.
Only a few months into our start-up journey, one of our new business partners gave us some feedback that stuck with us. After checking us out on all main social media channels, she told me: “By looking at the content you guys are sharing every single day, one might think you’re a huge company”.
At the time, SoAmpli consisted of me, my CTO and one other person.
As a start-up founder, I am well aware of the ultimate challenge any newborn company faces – and that is time management. So much to do, but so little time (and often, money) to do it. Regardless of how many late nights you work, it never seems to be enough.
And putting off social media posting to ‘later,’ ‘as soon as I’ve dealt with this investment email’ or ‘next week’ becomes very tempting. But that’s not the solution, as you may regret it further down the line.
Underestimating the ROI social media activity can have for your start-up is more common than you’d think. It doesn’t help that establishing your company’s presence on social media can start showing results only in the mid to long term – but, as they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
There is a lot that can be done to optimise your efforts and results; my advice is to start with the following:
- Plan and be consistent
Fair enough, this is the typical ‘easier said than done’ piece of advice, but it can be very helpful.
Posting 4 updates to your company’s Facebook page in one day and then going silent for 3 months won’t do you any good. Think about your daily routine and assess how much time you can realistically dedicate each day to your social media activity.
Once you have figured that out (and it’s fine to adjust the assessment along the way as new situations arise), you can start planning a consistent strategy. You may not have many followers at the beginning, but managing their expectations and getting them used to a certain amount and kind of updates from you is a great way to start building a meaningful online relationship.
- Always look for opportunities, even when you’re not in ’content mode’
A couple of months ago, I received a letter from a German senator inviting SoAmpli to relocate to Berlin after Brexit and providing all relevant information to do so.
I smiled at the cheekiness of the campaign, took a photo of the letter and tweeted it to my 30k followers. After a few hours, a journalist at Business Insider picked it up, sent me a DM and before you knew it, we had our Brexit story and a quick description of SoAmpli’s product included in his article. In a few weeks, the story was also covered by a number of other publications, including the BBC, the Daily Mail and the Sun.
I like this story because it is a classic example of how brilliant opportunities to bring attention to your company may pop up when you least expect them.
So, be on the lookout for quirky, interesting things you could share online at all times.
- Become great at content curation
Creating original, amazing branded content would be ideal. But creating a lot of it would also be very, very expensive. That’s when intelligent content curation can be extremely helpful.
There is so much great content being created by reliable sources out there, the key is to find it fast and leverage it in the best way.
There are a number of apps that can help with this (such as Flipboard, Newsify, Feedly, StumbleUpon), and even social media management tools that can do the searching bit for you.
At SoAmpli, we use our own RSS feeds integration to instantly and easily curate stories from our favourite marketing and technology blogs to share with our audience on social media, and it is literally working wonders for us.
- Recycle your content
This is another golden rule of any successful social media strategy. If you are creating great content for your company, make sure to make the most of it. When packaged in different ways and posted on different platforms, the same content can help you reach a lot more people.
Some examples? When you write a blog post, make sure to turn it into a SlideShare. Does it include interesting stats? Use free graphic tools (such as Canva or Piktochart) to turn those into images to promote your post on social media (always make sure to watermark everything you create so if the image gets re-shared, the name of your company does too).
Why not create a quick LinkedIn post highlighting the key takeaways from the post and redirecting traffic to your blog and website too? The possibilities are endless.
- When it makes sense, automate!
At SoAmpli, we are lucky enough that our own product works wonderfully as a social media management tool – through our own platform we can schedule posts (even multiple times) to all our social media channels, as well as getting real time insight into the kind of content that our audience likes best.
This has taught us a lot about the importance of basic automation and optimisation of our social media activity. It is essential for your audience to see the ‘humans behind the keyboard’ in your messages, but that doesn’t mean having to post in real time at one in the morning to increase the chance that your tweets will be seen by prospects in L.A. or Sydney.
There are kinds of automation that can have a negative impact on your brand – one of my least favourite being the generic tweet to a new follower asking them to buy something straight away. But then there are some that you would be unwise not to take advantage of.
- Don’t be afraid of chatting with the big guys
When starting to work on your start-up’s social media strategy, it is quite common – and understandable – to be afraid of engaging with some of the key influencers or big players in the field.
But, whenever I experienced that fear in the past, what I always asked myself was this: “What’s the worst thing that could happen? That they ignore my tweet or my LinkedIn mention? Well, I’ll probably survive if that happens…”
My advice is to start having an influencer engagement plan from very early on. It doesn’t matter if your product is not yet the best it can be – have you ever heard that “art is never finished, only abandoned”? If your passion is genuine and your idea valuable, some people in your industry will appreciate hearing from you.
Overall, you’ll end up on their radar from very early on and they will follow and support your journey with much more involvement.
- Create a content vault and review it periodically
What has worked? What hasn’t? Make sure to take note of your best performing and most engaging posts to make sure you can replicate the success going forward.
If there is a specific topic you’d like your company to be a thought leader in, start by sharing curated content about it from external publications and see which format your target audience engages with the most. Is it infographics? Articles? Social media series with images and texts?
Use this strategy as an on-going research technique to make your content creation efforts all the more effective.
So, just to recap, when it comes to kick-starting your start-up’s social media efforts: be yourself, have a plan, be consistent and don’t be afraid of shouting about your successes – enthusiasm is contagious!
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