As a journalist who has reported on startups and investors…
I recently finished reading Hooked by Nir Eyal. While the book is about How to build habit-forming products, it begins with the typical example of how consumers are addicted to social media. He says in the introduction of his book, “The technologies we use have turned into compulsions, if not full-fledged addictions. It’s the impulse to check message notification. It’s the pull to visit YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter for just a few minutes, only to find yourself still tapping and scrolling an hour later. It’s the urge you are likely feel throughout the day but hardly notice.”
As a startup, wouldn’t you want to leverage this hooked consumer through social media? Before I give any tips on what all you can do through social media, it is important you know that this game is a patient one. It won’t give you results overnight. You will find numerous tips if you google search which will tell you how to increase the number of likes on your Facebook page or how you could spend money to get more attention on social media for startups. However, do these tips help as much? In my view- No. Here is a look at what startups should focus on if they are looking at generating more business through social media in the long term.
Chose the right channel
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, Snapchat or more- you need not be on all platforms. The more targeted your reach is, the more effective it will be. For instance, take the case of Pratilipi, an Indian startup which promotes content in regional languages. “When we talk about vernacular content marketing, social media has its own limitations. In our case, the only platform that has worked at this point of time is Facebook. We have a social following of more than 2 lacs (200.000) and largely it’s organic,” says Shally Modi, founder of this startup who is convinced that Linkedin or Twitter would not get readers to her platform.
The key is to know where most of your customers would be and on which social media channel you will be taken seriously. Nirmal Rathore, Key Account Manager at Piquor Technologies sums up the debate about channel suitability for startups,
“For a B2B (Business-to-Business) startup, Linkedin ,Quora and Twitter are the major channels to market, whereas if you are a B2C (Business-to-consumer) company, your major channels might be Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat.”
Engage and interact
Two to three random posts a day on Facebook will not get you desired results or hooked customers who visit your page/website often. Social media for startups has to be strategic about anything it puts in the public, for which two-way communication is the main driver. Initiate conversations with your consumers, introduce quizzes and ask them questions. Of late, publishing houses have been doing a great job on social media. They organize live chats with their authors, ask readers to post selfies with their recent books and also offer books as a reward to many of their quizzes.
You could also run specific campaigns to engage customers. Priya Vasudeva- GM, Marketing- The Beer Café, an Indian startup shares what worked for her, “We recently launched a campaign called #LoveForBeer. The posts were designed in a way to tempt beer lovers to come over, grab a drink and declare their undying #LoveForBeer. We have already received over 2000 entries so far across all platforms and are expecting the number to double by the end of the campaign. Infact #LoveForBeer was trending the day we started the contest. It created awareness and generated greater impressions, enabling us to extend our reach to Twitter users across the country.” You can engage with the right people by using popular hashtags, discussing current affairs and most importantly responding in time to everybody who is trying to contact your startup through social media.
Maintain quality content
Using social media for startups is a double edged sword. What you post as a blog or a tweet can have unimaginable repercussions if received out of context. Ensure that the person who manages your social media, understands the ethos/philosophy of your organization. The views expressed on social media are in sync with what the company broadly follows. There should not be any spelling mistake or grammatical error which make consumers think that you are not taking your communication channel seriously. Double check everything you post. Remember, the hooked customer? He/she will take a fraction of a second to share your post and you do not want to get into trouble for something which cannot be undone.
Strategy of social media for startups should have a consistent plan to post quality blogs and social posts through which you expect people to organically like, share and engage with you.
Every marketing activity should be measurable. Keep a track of your company’s performance on social media. Get a sense that what content gets maximum eyeballs. How much traffic is coming to your website through social media? Shally from Pratilipi explains how analytics help, “70% of the new readers acquired through social media are revisiting the website to explore similar content. So, it has helped us in perpetual and sustainable growth.”
Analytics can help you target a niche audience and you will know exactly who likes to see what on social media. Chaitanya Kumar, Head, Marketing and Communications, 91springboard shares, “Given the nature of platform like Facebook and its algorithm, the choices for how you want to target someone are many and it’s really a question of experimentation, evaluation and iterative improvements to fine tune your message to match the target groups. We get a lot of inquiries from Facebook ads because we’re reaching out to the right kind of people and saying the kind of things to them that resonate and warrant an action, in this case an inquiry to come check out our coworking spaces.”
Spend money judiciously
If you are spending a lot of money on social media, you are not doing it right. Effective use of social media for startups never requires a high budget. Nirmal from Piquor is of the opinion that while organic or non-paid growth works in long term, one has to spend money to get more traffic in short term. “Paid strategy means running ads on your social channels. Our main objective at Piquor is to generate leads and get people to visit our website. One of the major results I want to highlight is the reduction in cost of acquiring a new customer (CAC). Targeting through Google ads is expensive.” Targeting can also be vague depending on what demographics you use. Social media can come handy for retargeting which reduces your CAC by almost half or even less. Your strategy should be to target with a very less budget with emails and Google ads, and heavily retarget with social channels. Ads are expensive, do not run ads on assumptions. It is very easy to burn money on digital media without substantial results, so be careful.