Social Media for Start-Ups Part 1

So we had this Hangout last Friday anchored by Nubi Kayode and I did learn a whole lot from it. It sought to target how Start-ups could leverage the many social platforms to guide conversations around their products and services. Unlike traditional TV/ Radio communication where you may be unable to get immediate feedback on your product offering or service, social media provides a platform that easily allows you gauge customer perceptions that could prove valuable in effective product delivery and customer interaction while making expenditure that may be easily measured in terms of impact and reach.

Social media is a web2.0 platform that brings people online thus filling a primary human need- communication. Social media provides a many-to-many relationship or a community setting where many users are talking about different things.

In crafting an effective social media strategy, it is good for start-ups to adopt the thinking that it provides a level playing ground for them to outsmart more established brands in the game especially as they may not have pockets as deep as their already established competition.

Here are questions Start-Ups may need to answer:

    What service am I offering?
    What product am I selling?
    What is my budget?
    Where is my target audience?

The answers that you come up with will help in defining your start-up’s social media strategy.

Harnessing the power of social media platforms can help start-ups get a level playing ground to compete for a share of the market when playing with already established brands. The moral? If you can’t outspend them, outsmart them.

Case Study:

Pepsi & Coca Cola.
The former, rather than try to outspend Coca Cola, with its deeper pockets have innovatively adopted social media to maintain brand presence and mindshare in the marketplace.

Visibility means that you want to be out there and be there for a long time. This means start-ups need not only to have plans to be visible but also plan to sustain the visibility in the marketplace. You need to start something that you can sustain.

Use case: Small businesses involved in selling bespoke gift items could make use of image-sharing social media sites like Tumblr/ Flickr linked with Facebook and Twitter campaigns. The reach on social media can be bigger than you can imagine.

It also goes without saying that small business owners/ Start-ups need to blog consistently. Blogging may take on forms other than text- the traditional route. Start-ups could learn to play with pictures, videos, audio podcasts or a combination of all.

The important thing is to find what works and drives engagement with your audience. You can then measure the strength of your interactions and engagements by the number of users who eventually go on to become fee-paying customers. Do remember to consistently use the tags that customers may use when searching for businesses that play in your market segment. If you run a food delivery service like EasyAppetite, tags to use would include restaurants, fast food, burgers, etc. This will ensure that you are ranked higher when customers search for your business online.

Creating an awareness with your target audience is the bottom-line for any Start-up

1. Define what you do and create related content that captures just that. Create enough content that defines your brand and have them readily available in a resource folder. That folder should hold resources like images, press releases, mini-videos. Have an intro video that describes your product offering on your website.

For the question of the number of tweets or Facebook posts to do in a day, it is often hard to say. You may start by posting as many as possible while also taking care to avoid an information overload for your target audience. Do this over a 2 to 3-week period and look out for patterns of how users engage with you on social media. Once a pattern has been established, it does help to make the most of those patterns as they unfold. The secret is: learn and adjust.

2. Engagement: Go back to see if people are asking questions. Do your best to answer those questions and be sure to engage people who make attempts to interact. A study says more than 90% of brands donโ€™t respond when their audience asks questions. On social media platforms. You can use this to differentiate your brand. Imagine the feeling of excitement that you get when you get a personalised response after tweeting at a major business brand or a celebrity. You can bring that same ‘I care’ experience to your customers. You may want to take some time everyday at a particular time to thank new followers and answer questions.

The importance of getting customer data cannot be under-emphasised. When developing new product segments, it is advisable to integrate forms into your website. This allows you capture customer data such as names and email addresses. You may then leverage on newsletter platforms like Mailchimp to stay in touch and provide more information to your growing audience.
It also helps to develop contests around your product launch. This helps you see how well people know your product and create further buzz. You should set aside a bit of your budget towards giving out freebies.

Don’t overlook collaborations with other Start-ups.
A food ordering and delivery site like EasyAppetite can collaborate with an airtime topup website like TopUpGenie. A use case would be to say for every customer who places an order for meals for more than N2500 gets a N100 airtime topup on their mobile phones.

Collaborations can also extend to Facebook where a start-up could mention another (playing in some other market space) on their page so that fans and followers can check them out and possibly do business with them.

The following scenarios may help you see just how important social media has become in our world today. In the first case, an unhappy customer buys a promoted tweet to complain about how an airline has misplaced his parents’ luggage.

On the other hand, the number of followers a customer has on social media may not exactly be a factor anymore as this article reveals.

The moral? Never underestimate the reach and impact of social media on your business.

Part 2 of a 4-part training session on Social Media for start-ups continues today at 3. You can RSVP to attend.

Olaiwola Bolaji (Community Manager, CcHUB)