A start-up's guide to being brilliant at social media

A start-up's guide to being brilliant at social media
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation

Posted: Fri 8th Jan 2016

Social media should be in the armoury of pretty much any entrepreneur, and that include brand new ones. Enterprise Nation head of content Dan Martin shares tips on how start-up founders can take advantage of social platforms.

Get more tips on using social media at StartUp 2016, 10 free events across the UK on 16 January. You'll also hear inspirational speeches from top entrepreneurs and get to network with other business owners. Choose your location and book a free ticket here.

Start early

Don't assume that you need to have fully launched your business to start using social media. If you build up a community on followers of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and elsewhere, when you do go live with your product or service you'll already potential customers ready to buy.

Start small with, for example, a Twitter or Facebook account that shares content related to your planned business and have conversations with interested parties. You could also use your social account to share your start-up journey. Post images of your efforts to design a logo, your new office, visits to small business events etc. This will build a story around your brand and allow people to buy in to your vision.

Even if your products or services aren't ready, start a simple blog and share content from that on social media. Offer followers something such as a free download or a money off voucher in return for their email address. You'll then launch your new business with a mailing list ready.

It's good to talk

This wouldn't be a proper social media article without the phrase "it's all about conversation", but it really is true. You shouldn't spend your whole time on social media banging on about you and your business. You must have conversations if you truly want to make the most of it.

One advantage that start-up founders and small business owners have over large companies is that they are the business and aren't bound by legal departments and corporate bureaucracy. You can talk directly to your customers and build a relationship. Equally, if things go wrong you can use social media to personally apologise and put things right.

Don't dismiss paying

Yes, there's a lot you can do with social media for free and when you're running a start-up on a tight budget that it very important, but that doesn't mean you should automatically dismiss paid for services. Twitter and Facebook in particular have opened up the paid for promotion elements of their websites to businesses of all sizes and it's worth investing a few pounds to give it a go.

You can get incredibly targeted with social media adverts and promoted posts due to the amount of information the platforms know about people. If for instance you're running an event, set up a Facebook event page and spend £20 on targeting it at people who live in the area where it is taking place and are interested in the subject the event focuses on.

Use tools

There are tons of free and low cost tools that can help make your social media efforts more effective. There are too many to list them all but here are some of my favourites:

  • Hootsuite: Jam packed with features, this tool allows you to split your social media accounts into separate feeds and monitor particular topics or hashtags so you can cut through the noise. It also allows you to schedule tweets for future posting and access analytics.

  • Facebook Pages Manager app: If you have a Facebook page for your business and you want to update it on the move then you need this app on your mobile device. You can manage up to 50 pages by checking user activity, sharing content and accessing insights. Facebook also now shows on your page how quickly you respond to queries from your fans so being able to update wherever you are is important.

  • Buffer: All Buffer does is scheduling but it does it very well. Through a very simple interface you can schedule posts across multiple platforms. It also provides useful statistics for each post and re-send the most popular content with just one click.

  • Canva: Data shows that social media posts containing images get more engagement and Canva allows you to create brilliant ones. You can build graphics, marketing messages, account header images, vouchers and more in the best size for each social media website. You can pay for images and icons to use but there are hundreds of free ones available.

  • Knowing how many people click on your social media links is useful and this tool allows you to create shortened links and track the traffic. You can also create custom links with words of your choice so if you've got a really long URL, you can shorten it and make it more memorable.

Beyond the marketing

Social media isn't just about marketing. It can also be used for recruitment, customer service and staff communication so embed it at the heart of everything you do. Don't just treat it as a tool to promote your stuff, either directly or indirectly.

Gregor Lawson, co-founder of Morphsuits, the first brand to launch on Facebook in 2009, describes the site as "the heartbeat" of his brand. Speaking to the Guardian he said: "We crowdsourced our continental European managers from our Facebook page, and got some really great people who are still working with us today."

Don't do it all

There are lots of social platforms and they all have their benefits but if your customers aren't hanging out on them what's the point of you being there?

Spend time working out which platforms are crucial for you to be present on and do those well. Particularly in the early days of a business when your time is a massively valuably asset, you don't want to waste your days posting on a site where you get limited engagement.

Look at your competitors and see with which platforms they're having success. The chances are it will work for you too. You could create a Twitter list that displays all their tweets so you can see what's working.

Get more tips on using social media at StartUp 2016, 10 free events across the UK on 16 January. You'll also hear inspirational speeches from top entrepreneurs and get to network with other business owners. Choose your location and book a free ticket here.

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Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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