In today’s age, if you’re not on social media, you’re basically seen as a dinosaur or someone who lives under a rock. That’s especially true from a business standpoint—social media is the most cost-effective way to get your brand’s name and mission out there. But it’s one thing to simply be on social media; knowing how to optimize it for your business is an entirely different matter. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about trying to figure it out on your own. We’ve compiled a complete guide to using social media for your startup.
Before you read on, you’ll want to take a look at our posts on starting a business in Arizona (no matter where you live, the principles are the same) and marketing your startup.
Before You Begin
Don’t go crazy and create an account on every social media platform out there. Before you do anything else, you’ll need to define your marketing goals. What are you hoping to achieve from your social media accounts? Here are a few ideas if you’re not sure:
- Increase website traffic
- Share your brand’s message and identity
- Improve connections and communication with your audience
- Raise conversion rate
- Notify your audience of events, new products, giveaways, etc.
Once you decide your goals, you’ll need to keep them in mind as you create posts. We’ll give you ideas on how to create your posts later.
Next, it’s time to decide on the platforms you’ll be using. Don’t just jump in and make an account on every site, unless you have someone who can dedicate the time to managing each account and tailoring posts fit for each platform. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use any platform to its fullest capacity, and your audience will think you’re unresponsive and out of touch. If you’re like most startups who won’t have a dedicated social media manager, you’ll want to pick just a few sites to get started. To do this, think about your target audience. Who are they? How do they use social media? Which social media sites do they tend to use the most? You’ll want to tailor your messages to fit what your audience likes to see.
You’ll also need to consider your options in terms of what would be the best fit for your specific business. If your startup revolves around visuals, like interior design services or any kind of product, Instagram would be perfect. If your business fits that same description and your audience is mostly female, Pinterest is also a great choice. For business-to-business startups, LinkedIn is the best option. Twitter is a good platform for businesses with lots of competitors, because they can Tweet about why their business is the best.
Whichever social media sites you choose, you’ll need to ensure that everything you post fits the audience and the parameters of the platform. For instance, the things you post on LinkedIn should be a lot more professional and open-ended than something you would post on Pinterest or Instagram.
What To Post
Now that you’ve decided on your social media accounts, you’re ready to start posting. Remember to keep in mind your goals behind having your accounts when you post. You’ll also want to ask yourself what message you want to send to your audience through your social media marketing efforts. This is where you’ll really start to build your individual brand, so keep all your posts consistent with the vibe you want to create.
No matter what platform you’re posting on, it’s a good idea to follow what’s called the one-in-seven rule: for every one self-promoting post, make sure you have seven content-based posts. This can be anything from sharing about a blog post on your site to asking your followers a question. You won’t want every post to say something directly promoting your products because your audience will start to equate following you to signing up to see your advertisements. It’s not fun to see on their feed, and it will earn you a lot of unfollows. Instead, post things that are engaging, meaningful, and fun.
Giveaways And Flash Sales
Giveaways are a really popular way to grow your following and boost your engagement. You can collaborate with other small businesses or influencers, or just have a solo giveaway. There are many different ways to host a giveaway, and it might take some trial and error to see what methods work best for your business. Along the same lines, you can post about flash sales and exclusive discounts. A lot of times, these kinds of posts will require followers to answer a creative question in the comments—this is fun for them, and it boosts your engagement and relatability.
To really make the most of your social media accounts, you’ll need to start a blog on your website and consider making a YouTube account as well (IGTV on Instagram is a great alternative to YouTube). Your followers want to see more than just pretty photos or sales—they want to be able to share content that resonates with them. You can type up an interview or live chat with an expert in your field, a brand you like to collaborate with, or a charity you support through your sales. When you share your posts or videos on your social media, you can post the link in your bio on Instagram (and consider using a tool like bitly if you prefer the look of a more compact url) and share it directly in the post on other platforms.
Whenever you create a blog post or video, this content will be perfect for repurposing on other social media channels to churn out that content and help you with the one-in-seven rule. You can also pull older content out of the archive when you’re running low on ideas for new social media posts. All this will help your audience learn more about your goals as a business owner and help them get to know you and your brand. It will also build industry credibility and show your followers that you know what you’re doing.
Make It Personal
No matter your audience, making your startup seem relatable and down-to-earth is an amazing way to boost engagement and drive website traffic. Try to post behind-the-scenes snippets and fun facts about your business. Tell your audience what you do differently and what drove you to start your business. If you’re comfortable with it, show your face and tell your followers about yourself. Invite them to share their thoughts on each of your posts in the comments section. Doing all this will create a relationship between you and your audience. It will keep your brand fresh in their minds and encourage them to choose you over a competitor.
If you’re not utilizing the Story feature on social media channels like Instagram and Facebook, you’re doing it wrong. Posting on your story is the perfect way to get content out there without overloading your profile’s feed, since it disappears after 24 hours. Stories are especially helpful on Instagram, since you can create Highlight bubbles and save your stories to them. Followers can browse these Highlight bubbles and see everything from before-and-afters to FAQs, custom projects, discount codes, sizing advice, and pretty much anything else you can think of. This feature makes it incredibly easy for your audience to learn about your products or services and see your brand up close without having to search on your website.
Remember to always keep your audience in mind for everything you post. What do they want to see? What will they want to engage with? How can you contribute to their social media experience?
When To Post
You might think it’s not important to worry about when to post on social media. Whenever you come up with an idea is when you should post it, right? Well, if you really want to use social media to its fullest potential, then you should pay attention to its usage trends.
As a general rule, you’ll want to keep each of your accounts active—that means posting at least once a week. Doing this will keep your brand fresh in your followers’ minds. To ensure you’re staying on top of it, it’s a good idea to create a social content calendar so you can plan your posts ahead of time and make sure they look and read the way you want them to. This will really help you on days you’re slammed with any of the dozens of factors that come with owning your own business.
Now we’ll get into the fundamentals of the best times to post on your social media. You can check out this link to see the specific days and times for each social media channel and figure out what works best for your goals.
Whenever you post on social media, you want to get maximum reach and engagement. This means posting at times when your followers are on social media and have the time to like, comment, and scroll through your stories. Overall, no matter which platform you’re using, the worst day of the week for posting is Sunday, and the worst time is late at night and very early in the morning. (Of course, you’ll want to adjust slightly for time zones, depending on where the majority of your followers are located.)
In general, you should avoid posting on Monday mornings, because most people are busy preparing for the week. Wednesdays and Fridays are the best days to post—it might have to do with a mid- and end-of-week slump where people are looking for a break on social media. Regardless of the stats, the key is to keep your audience in mind—when do they tend to work, if they’re working? When would they be off work? Do they have families, and if so, when are they going to be spending the most time with them and taking a break from social media? You don’t have to know the answers to all these questions. It will take some trial and error to see when your posts tend to get the most engagement. And overall, since social media algorithms are showing posts in order of popularity instead of chronologically, the what is still slightly more important than the when.
There are several smaller things you can do to optimize your influence on social media. Only doing one will still help, much making sure you do all of them will really set your business apart and help your following and conversion rate grow
Individualize Your Brand
Like we’ve said before, it’s a great idea to share your business’s story with your followers. Let them know what you aim to create with your products or services and tell them how you’re working to achieve it. Tell them about certain causes you support or donations you’ve made. You should also come up with some brand-specific hashtags, show them in your profile bio and all your posts, and encourage customers to post pictures of their purchases with your brand’s hashtag. You can do that by offering a discount code or holding a contest with prizes for the top posts.
This one is twofold—you should cultivate relationships with your customers as well as other influential social media accounts. Everything on your profile is open to the public, including questions and comments (both negative and positive) from your audience. Always make sure that you’re quick at responding to their questions and defusing tense situations when you receive a negative comment. You might want to send those people a DM and continue the conversation through that method or via email, so that the negative feedback isn’t out there on full display. When it comes to customers, you might run into the occasional bad apple who won’t be happy no matter what you do, but you should generally try to give each customer the best experience possible.
The second part of working on your social media relationships involves building brand awareness. Working with influencers—sending them products or offering free services in exchange for a post or story about their experience—is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative and popular marketing strategies. It might also be worth reaching out to popular YouTubers to see if they would be willing to review your product or service. Remember, though, to not put pressure on them to give a false-positive impression of your brand; instead, encourage them to share their honest opinions. If they offer any negative feedback, take it as constructive criticism. You can even improve on what they’ve pointed out and eventually reach out again for another review of your improved version.
Last, you’ll want to make sure that your social accounts are easy to find and navigate. Make sure there are social icons on your site and in your email newsletters that link to your accounts so that your audience can easily follow you. Once they’re on your Instagram page, if you’re a retail-based business, make sure you’re utilizing the shoppable tags feature so that your followers easily find products based on the pictures in your feed. This is much easier than just telling the name of the product in the caption, and it saves a lot of people from needing to ask which product is being featured.
Social media can be used for hundreds of different purposes, so if you don’t have social media accounts set up for your business, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. It can encompass everything from customer service to networking to building brand awareness and conversions. Follow our tips to get the most out of your social media presence. (And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too!)