If you’re a startup owner and you want people to find you, then social media must be a solid part of your strategy for attracting and retaining customers. Think about it, how often do you use Google or another search engine to find a business? The more online presence your company has, the better chance you’ll have of attracting customers. Today’s environment is all about making it easy for the right customers to find you. For example, if you’re selling organic baby food, then making sure that you gain exposure to new moms and moms-to-be is key.
One option is to increase your web presence by building up your network on social media; when customers “Google” your company, they’ll be able to visit several places for information. Also, you’ll have more avenues to get feedback and connect to your customer base. While you can spend money on traditional advertising, if you have a small budget it makes more sense to leverage social media and save the cost of having to run ad campaigns. To build up your “base” on your company’s Twitter page or Facebook fan page, reach out to bloggers in your industry and related associations to see if they want to try out your product. If they like it, “word of mouth” will spread and they’ll recommend it on social networks and their followers/members will also try out your product.
The following 10 steps will help get you going with social media for your startup. The good news is that as you learn more- you can always incorporate more social media elements into your overall business strategy. But for now, here’s your primer. Also check out Wicked Start’s social media whitepaper for more details:
1. Embrace social media: As a startup, you’re in a great position to incorporate social media into your business strategy from the get go. You’ll be able to build a customer-centric culture that enables direct two-way interaction with your customers and prospects. Social media helps create transparency, thus building greater trust with the consumer.
2. Create a Facebook Fan Page: If you have a personal Facebook account – great! However, for your business, you can also create a fan page. This ‘fan’ page will showcase your product/service and engage with your customers directly. It’s here that you want to upload your logo, a brief statement about your mission, and anything else that your prospective clients might find useful. For example, take a look at SPIKE TV’s fan page.
3. Create a Twitter Account: Head to Twitter and set up an account for your business. This will allow you to send out short messages – or tweets – of 140 characters or less to your followers. Tweets link to blog entries, press, a promotion, something cool or innovative that is happening at this very moment, also ‘re-tweet’ someone else’s tweet if it’s relevant and profound. For example, take a look at Deluxe Corporation’s Twitter page.
4. Set up a YouTube Channel: Video is a great way to connect with customers – it significantly enhances your search ranking when potential customers try to find you on Google or Yahoo. Video creates a more personal connection with your customers and can demonstrate success stories or how your product works. You can create your own ‘channel’ for your business by simply going to YouTube to set it up. For example, take a look at SCORE’s YouTube channel.
5. Start a blog: We’re all familiar with blogs but now is the time to start a blog for your business. This is how you will solidify your credibility in the marketplace as an expert in your industry. No one has your voice or your authenticity – so you own that! Write about product attributes or experiences that show your expertise. Commit to writing 1 blogpost per week, or more if you have more to say. Setting up a blog is easy- you can do it for free at Blogger or check with your web hosting service. For an example, look at our Wicked Start blogs (we use a Word Press plugin for blogging functionality)
6. Start a monthly newsletter: Starting a monthly newsletter with tips and inspiration or how-to stories can be a great way to connect with potential customers. Getting started is easy. There are several services out there that could be of value to you, however, I’ve been using Constant Contact for several years. They’re reputable, solid, and have an easy to use interface with templates to get you started. Once you have your newsletter in place, put a link on your homepage so website visitors can sign up to receive it.
7. Digg it- Drop in on “conversations” pertaining to your industry so you keep on top of what’s going on. You’ll hear what experts, consumers, and advocates have to say. Go and Digg!
8. Answer Community questions- Search the internet and keep a list of blogs and communities relevant to your industry. Then, answer questions to help consumers make a better decision or share an experience so someone can learn from you. If you find something really interesting for your users, you can post it in a blog, tweet it or post it on Facebook.
9. Set up Google Analytics: This is the ‘behind the scenes’ way to track web traffic – or visitors – coming to your website. For example, you had 1,000 visitors on your site yesterday and you see that 500 of them came from a blog entry that you wrote. Of those 500 visitors, 50 of them made a purchase on your website. This means that 5% of visitors who clicked over from your blog entry made a purchase. If you really want to get professional, optimize your website pages by tagging them with relevant terms that will help you get closer to a #1 Google search ranking.
10. Commit 1 Hour a Day! If you can commit an hour a day to your social media strategy, you’ll be able to get through these steps successfully. If you can do more, even better. Remember that this strategy takes time to develop. Be prepared to spend several months to get going.