Everything with a startup is new. A new idea. New financing sources. New production challenges. A new product or service. A new brand to build. New marketing efforts. And included in your marketing and brand-awareness plans, a new social media strategy.
You may have created a great product or service, but the hard part is convincing your target audience why they should care about your business. And most importantly, why your product or service is something they cannot do without. According to this report, “Generating relevant traffic and leads are the top marketing challenges for a business.”

Why Social Media?

Social media can be your secret weapon to increase brand awareness and lead generation for your startup. It’s cost-effective means of marketing. It’s just not a channel that you should use, it’s a channel that you must use. A high 71% of customers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. Social media is the most popular and effective medium to connect with your target audience and get your brand in front of them.
That doesn’t mean you will not use email, paid ads, or other means to build a following and connect with interested people. But all these other efforts can be effectively driven by a strong social media strategy. Here are some resources to help you get started.

How Soon? Is Timing a Factor?

The short answer is, it’s never too soon to begin building a social media following for your startup. Assuming you’re starting from scratch, you will want to begin promoting your value proposition and brand as soon as financing is secured. Getting users accustomed to recognizing your brand takes time, and things work differently on different channels.
So, choose the best channel that fits your target audience and product/service, and start building a solid presence. Learn everything there is to know about that channel and master it before moving on to another. Yes, this will take time, which is why you cannot begin too soon to build a following on first one platform, then another.

Suggestions for Building a Social Media Following

Even before you are ready to share much about your product or service, you need to be passing out value to establish your brand. Start by sharing tons of useful content. Before you bother sending people to your Twitter feed or Facebook page, you want to make sure they’ll find something valuable once they get there. If you don’t have the time to create your own content at first, find other articles from bloggers you admire or experts in your industry, and share their content. When time permits, create original content that ties into your industry, product, or company without directly promoting yourself. Right now, you just want to put out highly relevant and useful information for your target audience.
The best way to ensure that the people who aren’t following you yet discover you and your content is to start a conversation. For example, if you’re building a following on Twitter, do a search for people seeking to solve a problem your product or service solves. Favorite their tweets and reply with a response that includes a link to some valuable information you have provided in your channel. Share a link to your product or service page and ask them what they think of it. In this way, you are getting your product on their radar and simultaneously providing value to them.
Don’t forget to ask for your team’s help. This includes any freelancers with whom you do business. Ask them to share your company Facebook posts or retweet some of your tweets. What about those with a vital connection to your startup? Board members? Advisors? Financiers? They all have a stake in helping your company grow awareness, so create easy and appropriate ways for them to help by leveraging their networks.
Last, but importantly, be sure you follow the rules of engagement and best practices for each social media platform you decide to use. Each one appeals to a specific audience, and these people engage the most at specific times. Learn when the most users are on and active and use a social media software solution to schedule your posts for busy times.
One thing to remember on any social platform is the 80-20 rule. Avoid coming across as a salesy infomercial by posting 80% relevant and helpful information and only 20% promotional for your product, service, or brand. People will appreciate the value you provide and allow an occasional mention of what you have to offer. They may even be more inclined to further investigate your offerings.
What advice do you have concerning startups and social media? We’d love to read it and share it with our readers. Post your experience or advice in the comments below.

About the Author: Donna Amos

I believe you can achieve anything you truly want to achieve. “It might sound trite, but time and time again, I’ve seen it happen with my clients. They overcome the fear of exposing themselves to the possibility of failure to creating profitable exciting businesses. My clients do great work, and sometimes it only takes someone else believing in them to give them the confidence to step out and take the chance.”