The astounding growth of social media within the last two decades is shocking even to an early adopter like me — someone who joined Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2009 and Instagram in 2012. I’m a full believer in using social media for its potential power. If you’re putting out the right messages and connecting with people at a minimal cost (in terms of your time), then it can be a great avenue for your personal brand and business. Social media can also be a distraction.
Personally, I utilize social media more like a business; I’ve only posted on my Instagram a few times in the last 12 months, but post regularly on the Boston Speaks Up account (my podcast).
Here’s what I’ve learned using social media for nearly two decades, from launching startups (Mercari in 2014) to executing major brand go-to-markets (Vizio IPO): Look the part, but don’t make it your starring role.
3 Social Media Strategies for Startups
- Make sure your info is up to date.
- You don’t have to post every day.
- Focus on your target market.
1. Make Sure Your Info Is Up to Date
It may seem like a no-brainer, but I can't tell you how many times I've tried to look up companies to offer them money only to find outdated email addresses, websites, phone numbers or messages with no response.
A number of factors go into how your company appears in search engines like Google. Many people might go to one of your social pages before ever going to your website. If you’re not utilizing social media with the most up-to-date information and checking your messages on a regular basis, then you’re missing out on potentially huge opportunities.
2. You Don’t Have to Post Every Day
Don’t just post to post. Unless paid social media campaigns are an invested area of your businesses, posting once a week or even once a month is fine depending on what stage you're in.
I’ve seen too many startups get suckered into agency fees for daily social posts that bring little value and reach no one. If your company is still ramping to market and building a brand, then you absolutely need to establish your social channels, but there’s no harm in taking it slow.
Plot out 90 days worth of posts that tell a cohesive story on Instagram first, then syndicate your posts to Twitter and LinkedIn (and Facebook if you must).
If you’re just getting started or looking to revamp your business’ social media accounts, here’s what I’d recommend: Plot out 90 days worth of posts that tell a cohesive story on Instagram first, then syndicate your posts to Twitter and LinkedIn (and Facebook if you must).
Why Instagram first? It’s where you’ll be judged the most. Delight audiences on Instagram and everything else will flow from there.
Here’s what that looks like. Plan posts out over a quarter, with one triptych per week on Instagram that tell a uniform story. Each triptych on Instagram will be a single visual for your other social media channels.
Remember these rules of thumb:
Instagram: triptych per week
LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook: one post (and a single visual) per week
In terms of what to post: Keep it simple to start. Think of social media accounts as channels where potential clients can window shop your brand. Since your website most clearly represents your brand, carve up the important elements of your site — artwork, about us, team page, customers/case studies — to showcase your brand’s digital experience and key messaging through snackable posts. Over the course of a few months, these posts will tell the full story your audience could otherwise get from visiting your website.
My consulting firm recently concocted a similar strategy and is now managing the execution for creative agency KingFish Media. You can see the strategy unfolding here.
3. Focus on Your Target Market
Don’t try to latch onto every trending topic or latest meme. This is another failed tactic I see far too often.
Unless you have a dedicated team that can confidently respond and interact with the audience (and can defend this as a smart use of resources), your social media page should match the long-term goals and customers you’re hoping to cultivate.
In the event you’ve already succeeded in establishing a solid branding foundation for your business on social media, that’s when you can start deploying new content types aligned with your business goals and sales strategy. I strongly recommend the customer success case study.
Don’t try to latch onto every trending topic or latest meme.
For example, when you conduct your quarterly business reviews and set future goals, use sales targets to inform your social media strategy. Have you determined your product sells really well in the cybersecurity sector with plenty more prospects to pursue? More importantly, do you have a customer success team developing case studies with your existing cybersecurity clients? Great.
At this point, it’s prudent to create a snackable version of your cybersecurity case study for social media, tagging the appropriate #keywords. Don’t be that company that tags prospects (not the best look). Instead, put some ad dollars (on LinkedIn) to promote your case study and specifically target your prospect’s decision makers. Include the call to action and point prospects to your website where they can find the full case study.
Social Media Is Just One Part of a Larger Strategy
If you take away nothing else, just remember that your business social media accounts should help your brand look the part online and support your sales enablement activities in an efficient manner.
Now, go challenge yourself (or your marketing team) to define social media’s role in your larger strategy and stick to it. Revisit your strategy in a quarter. You won’t regret it.