Nobody knows your business better than you. Do know that you need to be closely involved with the social media efforts for your start-up. It is not something which you can just hand over to someone and forget about it. To make it effective, you need to be as much involved in it. If you have the bandwidth and skills to do it in-house, I would recommend going with that option, says Radha Giri.
Photograph: Mark Kens/Wikimedia Commons
Start-ups are always constrained on bandwidth, time and money. But that is not an excuse for not doing social media and marketing. Based on several interactions with start-ups, I can clearly see that start-ups not only understand the importance of social media but also want to do something concrete and substantial on social media, which can deliver them definite business outcomes.
There are some common questions which I hear often. Here I have tried to answer those:
1. There are 700+ social media platforms -- which one is right for me?
It is quite natural to feel overwhelmed by the choice of tools and technologies. I see that many founders and start-ups feel that it is important to "create a presence" on as many platforms as possible. A point to note here is "creating a presence" does not mean creating an account. Having an account which is completely inactive creates a worse impression than having no account.
The choice of platform should depend on the answers to these questions: a) Where does your target audience hang out? and b) What do you want to achieve?
For example: A B2B software services company, LinkedIn and Twitter become valid choices. Whereas, perhaps for a restaurant, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest will make more sense.
2. Is content marketing for me?
Content marketing is for everyone. More than "should I go for it?" you need to start thinking "how well should I do it?". Lot of companies are not even aware of the vast knowledge bank which exists within the company itself. As a starting point for your content marketing strategy, think about extracting that knowledge and present it in a readable and promotable format. You don't need to jump to whitepapers and eBooks in the very first month -- blog is a great place to start with.
3. Does social media work for B2B?
Absolutely it does! Have a look at my earlier detailed post on this. More importantly, you can derive ROI from your B2B social media marketing efforts too. The key lies in defining a solid social media strategy -- which includes defining the goals you want to achieve, selecting the right platforms, defining the right strategy for social media posts, constantly measuring the results and refining the strategy based on feedback and results.
4. Will social media help me get 10 customers?
Why not? Let us consider following examples:
Example 1: Recently, while browsing my Facebook timeline, I saw a friend of mine had liked a post from a dance class. I immediately dialed the number of the dance class and joined the batch. Technically, the dance class got a new customer through Facebook.
Example 2: You are representing a software services company. In one of the groups on LinkedIn, you notice an interesting conversation and participate in that. You put forward your point of view. Through those interactions, you connect with another member of the group and that leads you to a new customer.
Example 3: You have posted an amazing blog which is liked and shared widely across social media channels. The blog convinces one of your prospects about your expertise and that's how he contacts you.
Do you notice a commonality here? Through social media, you get an opportunity to facilitate or influence the decisions. That's how you get new customers. Don't compare it with phone calls based or email-based push mechanism.
5. Should I spend on ads?
The first question you need to really ask yourself is what do you want to achieve through ads? Ads are available on different platforms such as Facebook, Google or LinkedIn. Based on your objectives and goals, you can choose the right platform and decide on the budget. For quicker conversions, ads are great. Ads also work best for specific things like events, whitepapers or specific time-bound offers.
6. How important is the personal brand of founders?
Based on my personal experience, I can confidently say that till your start-up brand becomes bigger, the brand of the founder is very important -- especially for services start-ups. The value of services is seen only after it is consumed. So to create the comfort level in the minds of the customers, it is important for them to know who are the people behind, their backgrounds, and why they should trust your company.
7. Can it help me in hiring the best talent?
First, ask yourself this question -- why would someone want to work with you? It is the cutting-edge technology, your awesome infrastructure, the people in your company, the learning environment, opportunities or innovation. Once you know that, showcase that on your social media channels.
In today's time and age, candidates make a decision about joining a company not only based on the job description but also based on the overall image of the company on social media channels. Make sure you create the right impression and hiring the best talent should not be a problem for you.
8. How do I define the frequency of the posts or updates?
Very basic but very important question. Should I post 3 tweets or 10 tweets? How many Facebook updates should go every day? How many times should I post a company page update on LinkedIn? Should I write 2 blogs a week or 1 blog a day? Well, well -- again, it depends. You are on social media to engage with your customers and prospects so you will need to define the frequency and tone of your communication based on that. If your customers are based in the US, no point in tweeting 10 times during India time.
You need to be aware of all such nuances. As a thumb-rule, I would say start small but be consistent. If you decide to post 3 tweets per day -- do it every day! Consistency is more important.
9. Is it okay to schedule posts?
Why not? As a start-up, it is quite natural that you are constrained on bandwidth and it is also obvious that you can't be omnipresent. So you can certainly use tools like HootSuite or Bufferapp to schedule your posts. Just be careful that any time-sensitive posts should not appear irrelevant because of being posted at a wrong time.
There have been instances when a social media intern posted a scheduled tweet about a conference happening in full swing when the conference had to be cancelled at the last moment. Make sure that such things don't happen with you. Follow sensitivity on social media.
10. In house or agency?
Nobody knows your business better than you. Do know that you need to be closely involved with the social media efforts for your start-up. It is not something which you can just hand over to someone and forget about it. To make it effective, you need to be as much involved in it. If you have the bandwidth and skills to do it in-house, I would recommend going with that option.
But don't call me biased if I tell the advantages of an agency such as -- expert skills, experience and continuity to the efforts. Just like our body needs a specialist doctor, probably your start-up also needs a specialist to take care of the crucial aspect of social media initially and once you get a hang of it, you can take it over in-house.
Radha is the CEO of Midas Touch Consultants, where she helps businesses create a recognised brand and generate revenue by combining her business sense and state-of-the-art online marketing techniques. She is passionate about marketing and technology.