9 Ways to Grow Your Startup With Social Media

I'm sure you are getting tired of hearing it.

Everyone is telling you to proliferate your brand, get out there on social media and grow an audience, develop relationships with your customers and potential customers… The list goes on.

Unfortunately, if you are a startup immersed in the frenzy of just getting your feet on the ground, it is hard to find the time. But, as Yoda would say, "Find the time you must, or a business no longer will you have."

Here is your checklist. Don't do it all at once, but keep these 9 strategies in front of you and set aside a block of time each week to work on them.

1) Choose the proper channels for your presence

You cannot support a presence on all social media channels right now. Later, when you are all grown up, you can. So, focus on 2-3 platforms that you know are most popular with your target audience.

Choosing those platforms is not as hard as you think:

  • Develop your customer persona. What this means is that you develop a complete profile of your typical customer. Single Grain has designed a great graphic with all that should be included in your persona.

  • Once you have a complete profile, you are ready to figure out where this person hangs out on social media. Facebook is a given, but beyond that, you will need to dig a bit. Fortunately, there is a lot of research out there that will tell you where Sally is. Choose 2-3 places where Sally hangs out and focus on those.
  • Your profile will also tell you the type of content and posts you should create for Sally, and how you go about developing a relationship with her. If, for example, she is a millennial, then she can smell a sales pitch from far off and hates it; she will ask her friends about their experiences with you; she will want you to entertain her and let her interact with your content; and she will want you to be socially responsible — involved in helping others and the planet.

Case Study: Chipotle

Here is why "Sally" will connect with Chipotle.

First, it is a brand that values fresh ingredients and has the option to "build your own" items like tacos, bowls, and burritos. Both ingredients and the experience will be appealing to her, as a millennial.

But Chipotle has gone further. It has as web series titled "Farmed and Dangerous" in which a millennial farmer who believes in sustainable, chemical-free farming is pitted against a large corporate food company. It is a comedy with its own website, and regular episodes are posted, complete with music and show trivia.

Before this series even began, Chipotle had already developed an iPhone game called "The Scarecrow" in which a scarecrow is searching for natural rather than processed food.

Sally loves Chipotle because it values the planet, natural foods and is critical of corporate agriculture. The restaurant experience certainly helps too.

2) Be consistent and regular

Once you have identified your platforms, you must set up a schedule of posts and stick to it. If you don't stick to your schedule then followers will drop you and move on.

Those posts had better be fresh and engaging. If they strike a chord, they will be shared. For example, ifInstagram is a selected platform, put together a bunch of images in advance with great quotes which your persona will enjoy. Stack them up and post one a day. When the supply gets low, take the time to create more.

This goes for your website too. Many businesses have fresh new content regularly posted on their home pages, so that visitors are engaged and entertained right away.

Case Study: Dollar Shave Club

This company pretty much revolutionized the razor industry with its subscription-based shaving club. "Members" pay a really reasonable monthly fee and have razors and other grooming products delivered to their doors.

Their website regularly has new videos, some of them interactive, that visitors love to view and then share. An innovative marketing plan but a method to bring customers and potential customers back regularly to see the new content.

3) Start and stay in the conversation

You can start conversations by asking questions or asking your readers to do something. And when you get answers and comments you keep the conversation going.

Every day, check your social media pages for feedback, comments and questions. Respond quickly. Never let a comment go without a response, whether that comment is positive, neutral, or negative. This is how relationships are built.

Case Study: ModCloth

If you check any of ModCloth's social media platforms, you will not only find new content every day but you will find conversations in which the clothier responds to questions and jumps in with response to customers.

Just looking at its Facebook page, you can also see how strings of conversation just keep on going, with a ModCloth response to each customer.

4) Engage your audience so they want to share your content

There are several things you can do to capture and intrigue your audience.

  • Publish quizzes, polls, and surveys. You've seen these on Facebook and you know you have participated. You want the results and then you want to share those results with your friends.
  • Hold contests. This totally engages an audience. Jack Daniels does this all the time. They invite followers to submit their strangest bar stories or to submit pictures of the weirdest bar they have ever visited. ModCloth holds contests to name clothing items it has purchased.
  • Always use visuals because they are shared more. And explore some of the newer venues for visuals — real time stuff through Meerkat or Periscope.
  • Incorporate humor — this can be done by a "joke of the day" on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Use memes.
  • Support a charitable cause — show photos of your team involved and ask followers to get involved and to share your call to action. Headbands of Hope does this well. For every headband purchased, one is donated to a little girl with cancer, along with $1 toward cancer research. The founder may have gotten the idea from Tom's Shoes. Check them out.
  • Feature customers in your posts. Most of ModCloth's Facebook page is devoted to customers wearing clothing they have bought.

Case Study: Headbands of Hope

And a few shots from the "Giving Gallery"

5) Stay on top of social media changes

Here are just a few recent changes that platforms have implemented in an effort to keep their populations with them.

  • Twitter allows media and more characters
  • Instagram has implemented the carousel so that more than one image can be posted at a time
  • Facebook now has groups
  • Most content marketing websites will keep you informed of changes as they occur. Keep up.

6) Use the 80/20 rule

No one wants a pushy sales pitch — ever. Just don't do it.

80% of what you post should not be related to your product or service. It should be related to developing trust and relationships and getting your brand known. 20% of what you post can relate to your products or services — advertised sales or discounts, new product launches, free trials, etc.

7) Use amazing headlines

Check out some of the master's at this. You've probably been intrigued or compelled by many yourself. For some headline examples see Upworthy's Facebook post titles — always a photo and always a headline you cannot resist.

Headlines are tough to create — there are some good headline generator tools available, though, so find one you like and use it, even if you have to pay a bit for their upgrade.

Here are a couple of outrageous titles courtesy of BoostBlogTraffic.com;

How Spending $162,301.42 on Clothes Made Me $692,500 — Neil Patel

Caution: Stop Masturbating With Your Money — Ashley Ambirge

It's unlikely that many will pass up these posts!

8) Know when to post

Remember that persona you developed in #1?

Well, you know where she is; now you need to know when she is there. Fortunately, others have done this research for you. Not only will you find out when best to post but you will also learn how many times a day, week, or month you should re-post.

You can even set up these re-posts automatically.

9) Have a crisis plan

Figure out in advance what your strategy will be if someone "bashes" you on social media. It may be an angry customer or it may be someone who was offended by something you posted. You have to fix this and fix it immediately. Letting it hang out there with no positive and helpful or contrite response is a "killer."

Google "complaints about _______(your company name)" often and see if there is anything bad out there. Handle it immediately. This looks like a lot to do, and you may be pretty tired just reading about it all. Take heart. You don't have to do everything at once.

Pick a couple of things from this list and see how they work for you (give them some time); then add as you can. Your business isn't going to grow overnight and neither is your return on social media efforts. Be patient, but be steady.

Read the original article on JeffBullas.com.

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