Updated 11 March 20
Social media is a crucial channel for businesses of all sizes, but it is especially useful to leverage for startups. Social media marketing allows businesses to reach a wider network of customers (without being restricted by location) and build a community around their brand. But the fact social media is free to use is probably the main reason why it is so appealing for startups. However, don’t make the mistake that it is a ‘quick and easy solution’. It might save you money my friend, but it will definitely cost you your time. To ace social media marketing you need to come up with a social media strategy, otherwise...
‘’by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’’.
What is a social media strategy?
A social media strategy is a detailed plan that aims to answer the what, when, why and how for all of the content that you post for your business' social channels. By having a plan, it allows you to strategise your activities on social media so that they contribute to your startup’s key objectives.
As James Gurd put so well in his article on social media strategy, "without a clear strategy, how do you prioritise the activities for a plan?"
Follow this simple step by step guide below to give your startup the best chance of social success:
Step 1: If you already have an existing social presence for your start-up, you should perform an audit.
(If you have yet to take the plunge of creating social accounts for your startup then skip ahead to step 2.)
A few points to consider when running an audit on your social media presence are:
After you have gathered all of this information, you will be able to draw conclusions on what is working and what isn’t. You will then have a great starting point for planning on how to go about improving your results.
Step 2: Identify your ideal customer(s)
This will help you to tailor your content and also to see which channel(s) to focus on most and potentially, (as social media is time-consuming) which channels to ignore. Because every social channel is unique in its offering, you need to select the platforms that enable you to reach the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Once you have identified where your ideal audience hangs out on social media then create your accounts. Ensure to keep your account name consistent across all the channels you are going to use. If you already have existing social accounts then use this as an opportunity to re-assess if they are the correct channels and use a new channel or drop an old if necessary.
Answer the below points to give you a good idea of your target customer:
With this, you can then start to create different customer personas. This will allow you to think of your potential followers and customers as real people with real wants and needs. By assessing your customers’ background, such as their occupations, hobbies, interests, education, as well as demographics like their age range, gender, and income, you will be able to more easily target your audience with tailored content. Creating customer personas will help you to develop a deeper understanding of customer needs and therefore the social content that will appeal most to them.
Step 3: Research your competitors
Start by identifying who your competitors are. Select businesses operating in the same niche, but also don’t limit yourself to only startups and small businesses. Identify which one of your competitors you think is doing the best and observe what type of content they post, this can inspire and influence your content. You can learn from their successes but also their mistakes to avoid repeating them yourself. Some things to consider researching:
Being aware of what is being shared within your social space should help you to better understand the type of content your target audience likes and the norms accepted, it will also allow you to spot gaps that your posts and content can aim to fill. You can also see which recurring hashtags are used in their posts for your specific industry/sector and implement them.
Step 4: What is your goal and how will you measure it?
How will you know if your social media marketing is successful? Is your aim to simply grow more followers increasing brand awareness? Improve website conversion? Drive traffic? You will need to outline your goals and then how you are going to track them. Remember to make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T– specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific. Also, align these objectives with your broader digital marketing strategy.
Some example metrics are:
Step 5: Content plan
Here are some examples of content you could post for your start-up:
Using the above you can come up with a content plan and what your content mix will be - which different post types you will use to keep your feeds interesting and users engaged. You can even use content that you have created for other channels such as website, blogs, newsletters and re-purpose sections of them for social posts. Here's an example of how we repurposed one of our blogs, What Goes Into a Brilliantly Cheap Content Marketing Strategy?, into a instagram carousel post.
Your social media strategy can tie into your wider content marketing strategy.
Step 6: Analyse & optimise
This may be the most vital step when it comes to successful marketing on social media. Even the greatest social media marketers rely on trial and error, so it is important to test new ideas and learn what does and doesn’t work well. There are loads of social analytics tools out there, but even using the built in functionalities on the social platform itself will give you loads of valuable insight into the success of your posts. It might seem obvious, but keeping track of your results, analysing the data and then optimising your strategy/content accordingly is vital for growth.
Step 7: Try using a social media management tool
To cut down on some of the time resources that social media requires try using a social media management tool. There are plenty of options available and some even offer free plans & trials such as Hootsuite & Buffer. Armed with your tool of choice and referring to the brimming content plan you created after step 4. You can then utilise one of the main features of a social media management tool and start to schedule posts to go out ahead of time. Meaning you can to manage your social media presence at a time that best suits you! As we know all too well at Nova the life of a startup founder is very hectic and time is scarce.
I hope you have found this guide useful and you are now ready to succeed at social media marketing for your startup, good luck!