Being active in social media can be a cost-effective ways for startups to build buzz about their new business. Setting up and maintaining a company presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and other sites requires no cash outlay, but can be useful in attracting the attention of potential investors and customers. Here are some tips for making the most of your social media efforts:
Although using most social media sites is free, you do need to invest time in creating content that your target audience will find valuable. I recommend developing a social media calendar to ensure your team can commit to a schedule of regular posts that are consistent with your startup’s mission and goals. It can help to have a weekly or monthly theme, not only to keep you focused as you create your content, but also to draw in readers who will share and repost your posts, thus increasing the number of people exposed to your message. Note that you can often use one piece of writing multiple times. For example, an article or white paper about your industry can be edited down to function as a web page; it can be edited even further to serve as a blog post; trim it a little bit more and use it as teaser in an email; chop it down to 140 characters or less and it becomes a tweet.
Remember that the whole point of social media is to engage in a two-way conversation, so make sure your startup pays attention to incoming messages as well as outgoing. You can elicit feedback by asking questions in your posts, conducting surveys, and even outright asking readers to comment. Monitor the discussion about what you post on Facebook and LinkedIn and make additional comments as appropriate. When your tweet is retweeted, take the time to thank the person who shared your content with their following.
Never lose sight of why you are spending time on social media. One way you can ensure that resources spent on social media serve the overall goals of your startups is to make objectives for each social media outlet that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. Track the metrics that are important to your new business. Are you trying to drive traffic to your website? Find sales leads? Test and measure the results of your social media efforts so you know what works for your startup and what doesn’t. You may find, for example, that certain types of posts or posting at certain times of day generates more interest than others. Or you may find, say, that people who view your videos on YouTube are more likely to become paying customers than people who see your Pinterest page. Whatever the results, you won’t know how to make the most of them unless you measure them.
Social media shouldn’t be separate from everything else you do to promote your startup — integrate it into all of your other marketing and communications programs so that no matter where people see your message, it is consistent and on target. Make it your goal to delight the readers of your social media posts every day with news, helpful hints, or humor. Above all, always be yourself and let your personality shine through.