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Nowadays, nearly everyone is supposedly a social media expert: you, your mom, your 10-year-old nephew. Most internet-savvy individuals have some degree of experience with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But, when it comes to enterprise-level social media, you must appreciate the subtleties of fostering an online persona. Using social media for personal reasons and using social media for business purposes require two very different skill sets.
According to a Hubspot report, 63 percent of companies struggle to generate leads. Making an audience care about your product is hard enough, but making them care in 150 characters or less? That’s an art form that requires close attention to, and alignment of, social channels and established best practices.
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The best social channels for startups
As you develop your startup and begin to think about marketing, one of the first questions that crops up is likely which social channels are worth your time and money. As the popularity of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok and more wax and wane, it can be hard to tell which channel best caters to the needs of your particular business.
As frustrating as it may seem, there is no clear-cut answer to which social channel is “best.” However, there are a set of best practices to help you as an entrepreneur discover the most viable social channel(s) for your company.
So, while there is no one-size-fits-all social solution, consider the following criteria to better understand how social media fits into your overall business strategy:
- Audience: Don’t overthink it — who do you expect or want to engage with your company? What do these people value? Why? Put yourself in the shoes of your target customer and craft your online presence in a way that caters to their sensibilities.
- Tone: What “type” of persona do you want to develop? Would your brand benefit from the casual, irreverent tone a la Wendy’s? Or, does it make more sense to play it straight? These considerations should all be made with your audience in mind.
- Message: Ultimately, what do you want to say? Take the above into consideration and use this insight to craft relevant, engaging messages.
When you consider these components, finding the right social channel is actually quite easy. As long as you are meeting your audience where they already are, and appealing to their sensibilities, you set yourself up for successful social engagement.
Uncovering social ROI
It is estimated that 71 percent of customers who had a positive brand engagement online are likely to recommend that company to a friend. This means that (in addition to following the above steps for identifying your optimal social channel) there are agreed-upon rules for establishing a social presence.
Simply posting and hoping for the best isn’t good enough, so consider these best practices for maximizing your return on investment:
The amount you’re posting is one of the most important success factors. If you post too infrequently, you run the risk of fading into obscurity. If you post too much, followers will quickly become annoyed and almost certainly unfollow. The key is to find the sweet spot, which is usually one to two posts per day.
Your brand is everything. If your posts lack cohesiveness or consistency, you will alienate your audience. Do some soul searching, discover the key values of your startup, and embed that sentiment in everything you share on social media.
Follow the rules
It might seem trivial, but the internet has rules. For example, if you’re paying for followers, posting hateful speech, or engaging in any number of other nefarious activities, you can get “shadow banned.” This means that although your posts show up on your own feed, no other users will see your content. You will be delegated to the social media equivalent of “time out,” and regaining exposure can be near impossible. Other more serious infractions can lead to an outright ban from platforms.
Ultimately, the whole reason for a startup to be on social media is to establish a sense of belonging among its customers. This means establishing and fostering a community of users who actually care about your product, and more importantly, your principles. That way, you can boost visibility and hopefully establish a brand identity.
This is far from an extensive list of social media best practices, but start small and build from there. Keep in mind that while 90 percent of brands use social media, only a third of them actually measure ROI. That means that if you monitor social media success, recognize trends and patterns, and adapt accordingly, you are well ahead of the competition in terms of making your startup stand out.