Now more than ever, startups are popping up all over the map. In fact, in 2020 alone, 4.4 million new businesses sprouted up. That being said, if you want your business to stand out and be successful in a saturated market, you need to put in the work to make that happen. If not, your startup could be among the 90% of startups that eventually fail. The impact that social media has on marketing strategy is monumental, and it must be top of mind.
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Elements of a Successful Startup
While experience may be where your mind goes first, and it is incredibly valuable to have, it is not the end-all-be-all when creating a successful company. As a matter of fact, if the founder of a company has previous business success, they still only have roughly a 30% chance of their newest venture being fruitful. This can come as a shock, as 82% of business owners believe their own expertise gives them enough experience to run a new company.
So, what is really instrumental in this success of a startup? Well, soft skills such as passion for the work, a unified vision shared by the entire team, as well as comradery amongst team members. If a start-up is operating on industry knowledge and business experience alone, that is not enough to allow a new venture to thrive. Your team needs to be on the same page, all working together to reach your collective goals, and work to make your unified vision of the business a reality. A company cannot be successful if all of the moving parts are doing their own thing, without knowing what the bigger picture is. Open communication as a team is key to creating, not only a successful business, but also a wonderful work environment for your employees.
Pro Tip: Sit down with your team and come up with a centralized vision for the business. Make sure everyone’s ideas are heard and that you are all on the same page when crafting the image of your business as well as the social media marketing strategy. Write this vision down and create a visual representation in the form of a vision board or deck if you want to go one step further!
12 Tips for Standing Out as a Startup
Once you have assembled your team of passionate experts who are inspired to chase after your business goals with you, you can then focus on standing out and shining brighter than the competition. Use these social media marketing tips as a guide to help you get started and adjust your strategy as needed. Coming up with the right plan can take time, patience, and lots of hard work, but it is ultimately a huge factor in the success and growth of your business.
1. Know Your Target Audience & How to Reach Them
Beyond what your business will offer to customers, you must know first and foremost who the customers you will serve are, as well as how to reach them effectively. It is vital to know the key characteristics of your ideal customer. This should be a key factor in your social media marketing plan. You and your team should strive to find out the age group your business will serve, what topics they are interested in, what they do for a living, when they are online, which social media platforms they frequent and when, what hobbies they participate in, and the list goes on. The more specific information that you gather about your target audience, the better! The information that you and your team gather will become key, especially when it comes time to create and post content to your social channels and website.
Remember to think about and decide who you will serve, you will want to ask yourselves the following questions:
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What is their occupation?
- What topics are they interested in?
- Do they have any hobbies, if so, what are they?
- What is important to them?
- Which social media apps are they on?
- How frequently are they on social media?
- What are their goals and aspirations?
- Are there any particular social causes they support?
- How will my business or product improve their life?
Pro Tip: Create an ideal customer profile that includes all of the above information about the type of customer you want to serve and attract. This will help you create content, as well as make choices about branding your business.
2. Be Strategic with Your Posting
While you should always strive to be consistent, each and everything thing that you post should have a purpose. You should never be posting content with the sole purpose of just getting content up on your profile. It is vital that you create a plan that incorporates the most effective social media strategies and that will guide your posting on business accounts, so that each post truly adds value to your profile, and most importantly, to your followers’ and customers’ lives. Before a post is made, you need to think about your target audience and ask yourself a few key questions, such as the following:
- Is the information within this post relevant to my audience?
- Is the copy within this piece of a content easy for my audience to read and understand?
- Does this piece of content add value to my audience’s lives?
- Have I used accessible language so that a wide range of people can take something away from this post?
- Is there a focused, singular call-to-action in the caption?
- What is the main purpose of this post?
- Could I do more to make this post even better?
- In what ways is this post aligned with my business’ goals and values?
- Does this post fit my business’ brand identity?
If you can answer all of the above questions adequately, and you are satisfied with the answers you and your team are able to come up with, then you are ready to click that post button! On the other hand, if not, then it is time to go back to the drawing board and see how you can tweak the copy or visual aspect of the post itself to better answer those questions and offer a good source of value.
Pro Tip: Keep a running list, potentially in a shared Google Doc, so that your entire team has access to it, of content ideas. This will be a great resource to refer back to again and again whenever your team is feeling particularly uninspired or struggling to come up with fresh and new content ideas. Having a bank of quality ideas to refer to in these times will be so valuable, and act as a launching pad for your next great post! Additionally, be sure to keep this document updated over time. Remove ideas that have already been turned into usable content and add new ones whenever inspiration strikes. The impact social media has on marketing strategies is insurmountable, and it all starts with great content!
3. Be Picky About Which Platforms You Are On
It can be very tempting to jump on the bandwagon, so to speak, of social media and end up taking on far too much. If you and your team commit to creating content and referring to outside materials on social media marketing strategies for startups for all for the social media apps you can, such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook, you will start to feel like you are drowning in content, and ultimately fail at keeping up with all of those profiles. It is not possible to be effective on all social media platforms at once, especially if you are just starting out in your specific industry with a brand new business venture.
Instead of trying to be present everywhere and ultimately, spreading yourselves too thin, it is highly encouraged that you and your trusted team choose a handful of social media platforms to focus on right off the bat. Especially for an e-commerce startup, you will want to focus your efforts on social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. If you have a very creative and trendy team, TikTok is also a wonderful platform to spread the word about your business very quickly. All it takes is one video to go viral on the app and then your name is out there in front of a huge audience!
Once you have mastered the social media platforms you picked to tackle first, then you can start to branch out into other spheres. Just remember that it is best to post high quality, engaging content. After all, quality content is without a doubt one of the most effective marketing strategies.
Do not just post the exact same content word for word on each and every platform that your business is present on. If you do this repeatedly, it will not perform well, and your audience will most likely miss seeing your content entirely. Therefore, if you are ready to branch out to more applications, take on new platforms one at a time. This way, you can focus on crafting great content that your audience will love and can avoid stress and burnout as well.
Pro Tip: Conduct market research to find out which platforms your audience, or ideal customer, is active on the most. This way, you can focus your efforts in on the specific social media platforms that are most popular with who you are trying to reach! Like the age old saying goes, “Work smarter, not harder”, folks!
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4. Know Your Competitors & What Works for Them
While you should never outright copy what another business or brand is doing, it is important to have knowledge of what your competitors as well as others within your field are creating and posting for their own audiences. Seeing what types of content those businesses are posting, as well as how their audience reacts, can act as a great source of inspiration for your own social channels. How their content performs should have an impact on your team’s social media marketing strategy.
If you are trying to reach a similar, or the exact same, audience as your competitors, then you can also make predictions regarding how the content you create will perform. In a sense, use their content, performance, and post analytics as a launching point. Get inspired, imagine how your audience will interact with that specific piece of content, and you will be off to the races!
When you and your team are taking a deep dive into your competitors’ social media accounts look for the following things:
- Do they utilize Instagram Story Highlights?
- What topics do they categorize their Stories under in the highlights?
- What types of content do they post to their feed?
- Do they utilize Instagram Reels?
- Do they host Instagram Lives for their audience?
- Is their audience engaging with their posts on a regular basis?
- What is the main form of engagement used?
- Does the business use interactive functions like polls and quizzes?
- Do they have a Link tree in their Instagram bio?
- What is included in their Instagram bio?
- How many followers do they have?
- Who is their target audience?
- What themes can you see in their posts?
- How much engagement are their posts getting?
Pro Tip: Keep up with (yes, even hit that follow button) your major competitors in your industry and similar businesses within your specific niche. This will not only give you and your team inspiration for what to post to connect with your audience, it will also be a way for you to keep up with what is trending. This is especially true if these accounts have more followers, and therefore a larger audience, than your business does at the time. These are the accounts you should be paying attention to and this step should not be left out of your social media marketing plan. These accounts are the ones that your ideal audience already follows, and the content within their feed that they are already interacting with.
5. Make Sure Your Branding is Cohesive
Branding is sure to come up in your research for the best social media marketing strategy for startups. It goes hand in hand with the content that you will post across all of your social media channels, as well as on your website and blog if you plan on creating one. The branding should be cohesive and look polished. The specific style and colors you choose will depend upon what niche your business operates within, what is trending currently, and of course personal preference. When it comes to a color palette and fonts that are chosen and used for the logo, graphics, and much more, it is vital to have a brand identity that your audience can recognize across all platforms. If your business is recognizable even just based on the colors that are used in your social media posts, then they will catch the eye of your audience faster, which in turn means that they are more likely to click on and interact with those pieces of content.
Pro Tip: Come up with a color palette (3-5 is a great number), font combinations (3 is the baseline), a cohesive vision for the visuals of your business (promotional photos, the style of photography, etc.), as well as a brand voice. All of these choices should be consistent across all of your social media channels. Be sure to stick to a minimal number of colors and fonts, especially at the start of your business journey. If you have too much going on, your branding will look unfocused and confused, rather than professional and cohesive.
6. Build Relationships
Social media is not only a great marketing tool to reach your ideal customers but is also a wonderful way to connect with them. It is a great way to build meaningful relationships with your audience, as well as build trust with them. If your audience trusts you and your business, they are far more likely to interact with your posts and follow through with the call-to-action that you present them with in your content. One of the vital social media marketing tips out there is to interact and connect through these social media channels.
Not only is social media, your website, or blog a great tool that you must be using to connect with your audience, it can also be utilized to connect with potential partners, as well as deepen the bond with any existing partners your business may have developed. Your business profile may be just the thing to connect you with a fantastic brand that shares the same core values and wants to collaborate on a project!
Pro Tip: Follow accounts that are similar to your business or are within your niche. Once you follow a few accounts that inspire you, or align with your own brand, interact with their posts. This could be the first step in building relationships with other brands, as well as followers of your own business. Don’t be afraid to reach out to businesses that you gravitate towards, and think would be beneficial to work with. This is a great social media marketing strategy for startups because it helps get your name out there. Trust your intuition and put yourselves out there; you never know, the next big advancement in your business journey could be on the other side of that send button in your DM’s.
7. Consistency is Key
Consistency is a vital ingredient in many things, and it is no different when it comes to strategy and creating a thriving startup business. As of October of last year, it was reported that there are approximately 4.55 billion people on social media around the world, which is a huge potential audience to reach! Of that number, about 54% noted that they use social media to browse for new products, which is great news for your startup. If you are consistent with posting high-quality content on your business’s social media platforms, chances are, your audience will find you!
The impact social media has on marketing strategy is enormous! Therefore, the more often you post, the more often your followers will come across your posts and see your brand name, and as a result, your business will become more recognizable to them over time. Once you are a recognizable figure on your audience’s feed, you are one step closer to taking those people from followers and turning them into a pool of loyal customers.
Pro Tip: Utilize a scheduling program such as Hootsuite, Calendly, or Sprout Social. This way, you will not have to waste valuable time searching for things to post in the moment, and won’t have to post manually on each social media application each and every time you want to get content out to your audience. This is especially useful if you are just getting started with a social media account for your business and are really working towards posting on a consistent basis. A scheduling tool will allow you to set content to be posted ahead of time, and this will also act as a motivating factor for you and your team to get creating content earlier in preparation for posting!
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8. Track Your Progress & Be Adaptable
Now, once you have been posting consistently for a while, it is important to look for key metrics and trends in your audience’s behavior, the success of your business’ social media posts individually, as well as other key metrics. These numbers are a great baseline to see what is working, and what needs to be adjusted or omitted from the social media marketing plan. Don’t be afraid to play around with the types of content that you post, and once you figure out what your audience responds well to, keep posting those types of content! It’s all about making small adjustments and seeing what works for your business.
According to Hootsuite, there are a few key metrics you and your team should be making note of include, but are not limited to the following KPIs:
- Post impressions
- Growth rate of audience
- Engagement rate
- Conversion rate
- Click-through rate
To track these key performance indicators, you can use a simple Excel sheet of your own creation, however there are many automated tools out there that can do that work for you. A few tools your team can use to keep track of these important numbers are Hootsuite and the in-application trackers, also known as native solutions.
Pro Tip: Create an Excel spreadsheet that shows each post, along with all of the details from the caption, hashtags used, and time posted. Make note after each post has been live for a few days of how each post performs, making sure to track the key performance indicators that matter most to you and your team. This particular social media marketing tip will give you data that you can look back at later to determine trends among your content, what content is missing from your online presence, as well as how your audience is growing, all based on the behavior of your audience over time.
9. Take Advantage of Visual Commerce
A big social media trend that we have seen over the past year and half has been visual commerce. Visual commerce comes in many forms, but one of the most popular across many social platforms, such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are text-based posts like inspirational quotes, helpful business tips and tricks, etc. These pieces of content are eye-catching and easy to share on your audience’s profiles such as Instagram Stories, Twitter Fleets, Facebook Stories, and even their Pinterest boards and make a great addition to your team’s social media marketing strategy. Because these posts are so easy to share, it allows these pieces of content to gain lots of traction. From post impressions to likes, shares, comments, and clicks, these posts do rather well across the board.
However, it is not good enough to simply recycle a quote that has been used over and over again, that does not fit your niche, or is not relevant to your audience. Make sure that you are sharing still has value and you and your team are not just sharing a quote to have a post for that day or get some quick social media attention.
When you use visual commerce wisely, the text is relevant to your business, and it offers value to your audience, these types of posts are hugely successful! It can be a very fruitful social media marketing strategy for startups. However, keep in mind that these types of posts should not be the focal point of your business’s social media presence. Instead, sprinkle them throughout your feed every once in a while. Your startup could even find it valuable to jump in headfirst and participate in the “quote of the day” or “quote of the week” trends that businesses like Forbes are cashing in on!
Pro Tip: Utilize the creative online program Canva to create sleek and eye-catching text-based posts to share across your business social media accounts. The program has a ton of free templates with beautiful designs, fonts, and fun elements that you can tweak as you wish to fit your business’s aesthetic, such as brand fonts and your brand’s color palette. The templates can even be sorted by style and category, such as minimalistic and fashion, which can be very helpful when searching for a specific look in a template!
10. Give Back to Your Audience When You Can
Your audience and customers are the reason that your startup can go from a team of four with a dream to a team of 400 with a successful business. Your audience of loyal customers is the reason that this dream is a possibility, that and your team’s passion of course. Therefore, it is important to show your supporters just how much you appreciate them whenever you get the chance. This is sure to be one of the most effective social media strategies, as it will motivate your followers to keep interacting with your content and supporting your business.
You can reward your customers, so to speak, in many ways such as the following:
- Hosting a giveaway to win some of your products or a free service.
- Featuring loyal customers on your social media platforms.
- Giving a discount code to frequent customers in exchange for their constant support.
- A thank you message on social media, though this should be sincere and heartfelt, or it will come across as fake and insincere.
No matter which way you choose to show your gratitude to your customers, it is so key that your delivery be sincere. Your audience knows you and likes your business, that is why they stick around. The impact social media has on marketing strategy ultimately boils down to communication and how effectively you can communicate with your audience. Therefore, they will wholeheartedly appreciate a genuine gift to say thank you, and will be able to spot a phony, insincere, or flippant thank you from a mile away.
Pro Tip: Think about which brands and businesses you and your team follow on social media and support monetarily. Think back to content you have seen those brands and businesses post in gratitude to their loyal customers and followers. What did these posts look like? Were they giveaways rewarding customers with new products? Were they simply caring words of genuine appreciation? Put yourselves in the shoes of your customers. What draws them to your brand and keeps them coming back again and again? Use the answers to all of these questions to come up with the best way to show appreciation to your audience and they will surely thank you for it.
11. Keep Up with Trending Topics & In-App Features
This may seem like an obvious one, however, it is easy (and common) to get comfortable with your current social media marketing strategy and avoid evolving with the trends as they grow and change. Social media platforms are constantly leveling up, and therefore so do the trending topics and features on each of these platforms. For example, posting on Instagram used to be as simple as posting a photo to your feed. Now, posting on Instagram involves Reels, carousel posts, polls, Live videos, Stories, as well as static posts like photos. In order to be as successful and reach as many people that align with your ideal audience as possible, you have to stay up to date with the current trends and incorporate them where you can within your posts.
Some of the latest trending topics and features include the following:
- Instagram Reels
- TikTok Videos
- Visual Commerce
- Live Videos
- Influencer Marketing
- UGC Content
- Augmented Reality (AR)
Pro Tip: Subscribe to newsletters that go over what is trending in your specific niche if possible. Newsletters like Social Media Today are constantly posting about what is trending on each of the prevalent social media platforms, tips for businesses, and other useful, educational content. You can also set Google Alerts for certain trending topics, such as social media marketing, startups, tips for startups, e-commerce startups, and e-commerce businesses just to name a few. These pieces of content will help you stay up to date on trending topics, content types, branding practices, social media marketing tips, and much more!
12. Utilize UGC Content
User-generated content is such a valuable marketing resource. By definition, UGC is original, brand-specific content created by customers and published on social media or other channels. User-generated content comes in many forms, not only video, although that seems to have become the most popular form by far thanks to social media platforms like TikTok. UGC can be anything from static images to customer reviews, podcasts, and of course, video content. It has quickly become one of the most effective social media strategies, especially in the world of e-commerce, and for good reason!
This content can be created by a variety of people, not just your business’ customers. While this is where UGC got its start and its name, this type of content is not limited to your audience. User-generated content can be created by your own employees, people who are loyal to your brand, and of course, your customers.
UGC content is vital and can have a major impact on your strategy, as well as whether it is successful or not. This type of content has a very organic and authentic feeling to it, which potential customers love to see. People love to interact with this type of content, and it encourages a huge amount of interaction. UGC content is great for encouraging engagement as well as increasing the number of conversions from your social channels to your website.
Popular forms of user-generated content that would be useful to include in your social media marketing plan as a fresh e-commerce startup include the following:
- Product reviews
- Unboxing videos
- Look books
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
Pro Tip: Encourage your followers to share images, videos, and other forms of content interacting with your products. When they post this content, presumably to their social media accounts, they should be sure to tag your brand as well as use a branded hashtag. It is a great thing to add to your social media marketing strategy because this way, not only can you see it on your branded social media accounts, but you can also reshare it on those accounts. Plus, when people search for your brand on social media, they will have a high chance of seeing this branded hashtag and being influenced by the UGC content, thus raising your conversation rates!
13. Practice Storytelling
Who doesn’t like a great story? As humans, we love to be entertained. From novels to television series, films, music, podcasts, even social media (especially TikTok and YouTube videos). Entertainment has always been something we have sought after.
Stories are incredibly entertaining and when they are done well, super captivating. No matter what genre you prefer, storytelling is a powerful tool that shouldn’t just be limited to your favorite movies and tv series. Stories can transport you to another reality, inspire you to chase your dreams, and influence your behavior.
You must begin incorporating storytelling into your social media posts if you are not doing so already. This is one of the top social media marketing tips your team should be implementing. Storytelling makes your content easy to read and digest, allows your audience to connect with what you are saying in a new way, and simply makes your posts overall more captivating. Storytelling truly helps your business to stand out and is much more memorable than a generic call-to-action or post promoting a new product on your website.
Pro Tip: Create a narrative for every product your business creates. This way, when the times come to promote this product on your social channels, you can write engaging copy that your audience will connect with. Beyond that, tell the story of your startup! An audience, especially paying customers, love to know who they are supporting.
No matter what niche your startup falls into, how big your team is, and how long you have been in business for, the above tips will help you create a strategy or readjust a plan that you have already come up with. Once you have incorporated those and researched other social media strategies for startups, you will have a great foundation for a successful business venture!
If you are serious about building a successful startup, that journey begins with a cohesive vision, flushed out ideal customer profile, and a killer plan. Ready to get started? Contact the Commerce Pundit team today!