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When you’re starting a business, especially in a highly-saturated, digitally-driven market, you need to build brand awareness through every channel at your disposal, including social media. But, building a social media presence that resonates with your target audience and compels them to purchase is far more than just curating one-off posts. It’s about sharing messaging, images, thought leadership and content that speaks to your purpose, services a customer or individual need, and aligns with your brand personality. And, that all comes together through a cohesive, well-executed social media strategy.
According to the 2016 Nielsen Social Media Report, 39 percent of social media users leverage their channel engagement to find out about new products and services, with this number only growing as the social-commerce space becomes increasingly seamless. With the right strategy in place, social media can be your startup’s secret weapon to bring critical attention to your brand and mission. Once you’ve conducted research and built out rules of engagement, your startup’s social media strategy will help keep your presence consistent across channels. When executed correctly, every company advertisement, post and engagement is a new opportunity to connect with customers and drive conversions.
Target the right audience
So, where should your startup begin with social? In order to develop an effective social media strategy that reaches the right audience, you’ll first need to define who that audience is. Start by breaking down your target customer demographics by age, annual income, location, education, hobbies and interests. Build out personas around these target customers. Think about who your customer is, and how each customer segment engages with their social media channels. Understanding your audience will help you develop a voice and tone, understand the content they want to see, and ultimately help you speak to the people who will care about your business.
Choose the right channels
Depending on your business offerings and target market, not all social media channels are created equal. Conduct research to align personas with each potential channel. To get you started, a 2017 global social media report shows that younger demographics between the ages of 18 to 34 have a higher market penetration on channels like Instagram and Snapchat, whereas LinkedIn drives more engagement from age demographics within the 35 to 44 range. Facebook, with the highest global daily users, is an effective channel to target customers across audience demographics.
Consider aspects of each channel’s mediums. For example, Instagram is highly visual, making this an effective platform for bringing visibility to new products. Facebook offers geo-targeted advertisements if you’re a service-based business in a local area.
Use available insights, working in tandem with your defined customer base, to inform a strategy and determine which social platforms your target audience is spending their time. That’s where your marketing resources will be spent most effectively.
Develop your brand personality
The digital experience is only as good as the content that goes into it. Defining your social media strategy gives you the opportunity to define your brand voice and tone and gives your internal team the documentation that allows anyone (from the marketing director to the communications intern) to develop social media content that’s consistent with the messaging your audience wants to engage with on each platform.
Your voice is your brand’s personality. Imagine your business is a person: think about the attributes of their identity. Is your brand funny and playful, or informative and professional? Work to define four to six characteristics, and write a brief description of how each element comes to life. While your brand voice will always hold true across content and communications, your tone describes the general vibe of your brand voice, which can be adjusted based on the content type and channel platform.
For example, when sharing educational content, you’ll want to assume a straightforward, descriptive tone, while when promoting a new product, you may want to craft content with a more excited, inspiring tone.
When customers identify with your brand, social engagement starts to spread. Customers talk positively about your brand. They share the content with their friends. They follow your accounts because they know they can count on your company to deliver content that delights them.
Consider your goals
After establishing your approach, determine what you want to accomplish. Building brand awareness, driving conversions, generating leads and distributing content that spreads are all valid social media goals. Identifying and prioritizing the strategic goals that matter to your business will inform your tactical plan, including how often you share each type of content across each channel. Try new things while staying in the bounds of your strategy and use native social media channel analytics to determine what best engages your audience. As an entrepreneur, you know the value of the test-and-pivot model. Apply it to your social media strategy to find what works and run with it.
Get your startup started on social
A strong social media presence can be a catalyst to rapid business growth. Especially when you’re on a tight startup budget, it’s worthwhile to ensure every customer-facing communication is focused and strategic. Now it’s time to get started defining your startup’s social media strategy and tap into the unique potential social media can offer to grow your new business.