Tools like social media, when properly used, are capable of promoting your brand at very little financial cost.
Learn to use social media and discover the key to driving “word-of-mouth” marketing and brand awareness.
Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic transformation in the way we receive and disseminate information, both for personal and business use.
For entrepreneurs and startups this has made it a lot simpler for not only concept initialization, having partners from different geographical locations, but also for marketing especially for individual freelancers, amongst others.
Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have become essential parts of brand awareness content distribution, lead generation, and customer acquisition strategies for business, of all sizes. In a recent study in Australia (www.sensis.com.au), it was noted that the larger organizations were more aware of the benefits of social media than some of the smaller companies.
This is particularly true for startups working with smaller budgets and grass roots campaigns, particularly in multicultural locations.
Marketing on a Limited Budget
It is essential for startups to minimize marketing expenses without compromising quality. On one side, you have been told that you need to spend money and time in marketing and advertising in order to succeed. However, on the other side, we know that spending too much on a “launch” campaign, can limit your startup from the beginning. Hopefully, with the careful use of social media, you can reach a large audience with a moderate budget.
Word-of-mouth marketing has always been the best way for a startup organization achieve success with a limited budget – the Internet has significantly accelerated the speed at which word-of-mouth marketing takes place – especially as the common use of social media has made it possible for small startup businesses to reach thousands and possibly millions of potential consumers and potential customers with a “click” of a button.
Thus every entrepreneur and startup company should ask “how can we maximize our potential with social media?”
Start with a Social Media Strategy
What is your style?
Choose a style that fits your brand – how do you want it to be portrayed? Formal, Casual?
This is important to choose so that there is a consistency in your media communications
Define Your Goals
A startup will usually focus on one or two of the following:
- Brand awareness: Every startup uses social media as a means to promote brand awareness
- Content distribution: Many brands and businesses use social media as a content distribution and information dissemination platform. If your startup is interesting enough, hopefully others will share posts and “advertise” your brand for you.
- Lead Generation: Hopefully, your social media profiles will act as lead “generators” that drive traffic to your website or blog. However, this requires a significant time investment, as results often take months to realise acquiring customers.
- Reputation: A good social media campaign can enhance your reputation, especially if you post useful and erudite messages, especially in the sector that you are focussing on
The best case scenario is that your social media profiles raise brand awareness, your content generation leads, and these leads eventually become customers.
Currently there are five major international social media platforms potentially of value to startups. However there are regional communications platforms that may also be useful (e,g. Kakao in Korea, Wechat in China, amongst others). Thses are:
The compilation of the most popular social networks worldwide prepared by Statista gives a clear picture with Facebook ruling supreme -with over 1,870 million active users, it holds an 18% market share, 7% more so than its closest competitor, the Facebook-owned, WhatsApp.
Facebook is probably the most credible platform – and the lack of a Facebook page can even be negative sign to potential customers.
Facebook is good for older people (like me) to reach the younger generation
Research shows that about 70% of Twitter users are more likely to make a purchase from the brands they follow on the site. If content distribution and customer engagement is important to you, then Twitter is essential. This is not the platform for direct sales, but is good for branding ad inspiring your community.
For B2B startups and companies looking to find new business partners, LinkedIn is an excellent platform, and is very global. it’s definitely worth your time to set up a Company Page for your startup. A Company Page on LinkedIn allows you to provide other members an overview of your startup and keep them up-to-date with news like product updates and job openings.
It is worthwhile to join relevant groups that can help give your a startup a little boost. However, you may also want to join media, manufacturing and investor groups to also start making valuable connections – which you can find through the Groups Directory.
YouTube is great for brand awareness and enhancing your reputation – it gives you the opportunity distribute engaging videos to millions of users.
It is a bit more complicated than other platforms, but by investing in high-quality videos, it is a very powerful tool to gain credibility and spread your message.
This platform is very useful for startups with physical products – Pinterest will introduce your business & blog to a whole new audience
Google has recently established itself as the second largest network with more than 350 million active monthly users. Launching a Google AdWords campaign is one of the most effective ways to grow a small business.
It is probably a good idea for a small startup to follow anything that Google does or supports
Instagram is a little different as it a very “motivational” twist. Instagram is a critically important social network. The photo-sharing app is not only important for retailers, restaurants, or travel companies; as one of the most effective brand-building tools available today, Instagram is increasingly important for every kind of business. Instagram is now a hub where regular people find (and judge) the visual identity of a business. Without a strong Instagram presence, companies risk being ignored or forgotten, especially among the next generation of consumers.
General Tips and Tricks
Although every business is unique and your specific strategy will differ, here are some general tips:
Listen instead of talking
One of the biggest mistakes is to spend all your time “talking”. Spend more time listening to your followers, and take advantage of any constructive feedback.
If used properly social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will serve ongoing focus groups for your startup.
Build a Community
Building an online community of followers can give your startup additional exposure and promote brand awareness. This is a longer-term objective, but will eventually pay off for you.
Try new things
Be innovative- do not do what everyone else is doing. As long as what you are doing does not compromise your brand’s integrity, be creative!
Do not become idle
It is important, regardless of what social media platform that you use, to keep up a consistent communication activity