Can you name a friend who is not on any social media platform? Probably not…
Twitter boasts 316 million monthly active users. Instagram just surpassed 400 million users. Facebook, the most popular social media network, connects 1.55 billion monthly active users — almost half the US population.
As communication continues to go digital, startups can build on the success of social media networks to drive their own growth.
Here are five ways that successful startups innovate with social strategy, increasing brand awareness, engaging communities, listening and responding to customers, all while driving sales numbers:
1. Increase Brand Awareness
Strong brand awareness is a hallmark of every successful startup. Regardless of your niche, you can transform your company through consistent and brand-specific sharing on social media. Miz Mooz, for example, a shoe startup based in New York City, used Youtube to gain national recognition.
Together with the marketing agency Spark Growth, Miz Mooz created a convincing April Fools video “Selfie Shoes.” Their spoof garnered over 2.6 million views on Youtube, launching mentions in national publications like Slate Magazine, US Weekly, and USA Today. By creating humorous industry content matched to the target market — young selfie-taking, shoe-buying women — Miz Mooz skyrocketed to exponential growth.
When you use social media platforms to increase brand awareness, focus on your target buyers to ensure that you align with your brand identity. Successful social media campaigns always entertain and educate, offering clear value in every post, tweet, or photo.
It also helps to do influencer marketing as a way to increase brand awareness. The key is to find the right influencers that would have the chemistry to work with your brand. A tool that can help you do this is NinjaOutreach or you can simply head to Twitter and search via your niche’s hashtag (ex: #fitness).
2. Engage a Growing Community
Engaged customers are 38% more likely to recommend your brand to others. To build trust and engage a growing social community, you need to post relevant content consistently. Use a tool like followerwonk to discern when your users read content — cater your posts to their ideal engagement times. Enlist Quuu as a hassle-free way to curate social media posts beyond your original creations. With Quuu, you can automate curated selections to load to Buffer, a social media management tool without losing authenticity and brand voice. For budget-conscious startups, both Quuu and Buffer offer free versions, saving you time without eating through your marketing budget.
Take your social media engagement one step further by incorporating interactive elements. SnapApp, for example, collaborates with startups to build interactive content that adapts to social channels. Follow Buzzfeed’s lead and start with quizzes, which encourage social sharing.
3. Listen to Customers, Clients, and Competitors
Social media offers unprecedented opportunities to listen to customers, clients, and competitors. Use a tool like Mention, Social Mention, or Topsy to listen to what people are saying about you every day.
Listening to online conversation empowers you with data about your community and targets influencers who value your product. Social listening can also help you to build buyer personas, understanding the unique habits of your primary fans or users. Pair social listening with Crystal, an application that identifies the best way to communicate with external stakeholders based on their public social profiles.
Twitter and Facebook’s native poll features also gauge your community’s opinion on anything from a new product release to a trend within your industry. When you need data, build a simple poll that points you — and your colleagues — in the right direction.
UPDATE: Topsy no longer exist as the tool that we’ve known it for. The page now redirects to Apple’s website because they have purchased the company back in 2015. More information about this here:
4. Offer Amazing Customer Service
A 2013 J.D. Power and Associates survey found that 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for customer service while only 33% use platforms for social marketing. As person-to-person communication weaves into social media platforms like Snapchat and even Youtube, more consumers expect to interact with brands in the same ways.
Companies who relegate customer service to email and phones miss an opportunity to address customer concerns publicly. According to social media startup Buffer, every negative customer service complaint on social media can offset five public positive remarks. The stakes are high — companies need to adapt customer service to public conversations to have a positive impact overall. Here are five golden rules distilled from Buffer’s Complete Guide to Using Social Media for Customer Service:
- Communicate through the customer’s chosen channel.
- Respond within an hour.
- Use simple phrases like, “I’m so sorry” and “We’re working on fixing this ASAP.”
- Exhibit understanding and empathy.
- Make Sales
As important as social media is for building brand awareness, platforms can also shorten the sales funnel, turning strangers into leads. Empower your social marketing team with lead generation techniques that maximize their efforts on your company’s platforms.
B2B companies would benefit from integrating LinkedIn and Twitter into their lead generation campaigns. Hootsuite recommends featuring a prize or a sweepstake. Through gamification, you entice followers to send along their names, email addresses, and buying preferences, feeding awesome leads to your sales teams.
Because B2C companies experience a shorter sales funnel, it’s easy to convert fans into loyal customers through social media. Consider your niche market. Are your ideal buyers visual? Transform your Instagram account into a retail hub by linking your posts to a shoppable feed. NikeWomen, for example, links visual inspiration for their 3.3 million followers to an Instagram shop.
As a startup, you don’t have to build your own sales platform to follow Nike’s tried-and-true method for closing sales. Use beloved tools Like2Buy and Chirpify to connect your featured products to easy platforms for purchases.
These platforms create new opportunities to both respond to sales questions and empower users to commit to a purchase. Whether you work in the B2B or B2C space, prepare your social media team with detailed descriptions of your products and services, so they can respond to any important sales queries.
As you build your social media presence, align your content with your audience. By reflecting their priorities, preferences, and tone, you build emotional connections that set a positive precedent for long-term relationships with buyers.