If you’ve decided 2015 is the year you finally launch your startup, I’m sure you will have many marketing questions. What do you focus on? How do you get the word out? How do you find investors? Customers? Can you market your startup without spending a fortune?
Our new Startup Marketing 101 series will help you find the answers. I already discussed publishing to share your startup story, and now it’s time to focus in on that great productivity disaster: social media.
Social media strategy
Before you jump in with both feet and create profiles on every platform out there, stop, breathe, think.
The most important step you can take with social media is nothing to do with a particular platform. Take some time to work out why you are using social media, who you want to reach, and what you want to say. This activity will prioritise your tasks, give focus to a typically unfocused area, and give you the best chance of yielding results.
I will talk about each of the main social networks from a startup perspective, in particular which network(s) is best for what kind of startups. For each network, I’ve listed the number of users in Norway (stats from Ipsos MMI), but remember these numbers are meaningless if you are using social media to reach a global market.
Time is valuable for founders of fledgling startups, so I advise you to pick no more than two networks and do them well, rather than try to cover them all and do them all badly. Nothing gives a worse impression than an empty or inactive social profile, so beware.
Invaluable for making new connections in the business world. Angel investors and VCs yes, but also suppliers, partners, mentors, journalists, accountants, lawyers – the list goes on.
Make the limited space in your profile count, especially the sub-heading directly underneath your name. Which sounds more attractive to you: “John Smith – Startup founder” or “John Smith – Disrupting the personal loan industry”?
Setup a simple company page listing your core benefits (rather than a rambling description of your startup) and importantly, a logo. This logo will then show up on your the profile pages of you and your employees. These little things make a difference, so be sure to do them!
Premium membership allows you to “cold call” prospects with direct messages, while the new “Pulse” publishing platform allows you to share your professional expertise (see our previous post for more on this)
Who uses it? Professionals from all industries, job-seekers, recruiters.
Users in Norway: 1,085,000
Who does it well? Read this old yet still relevant Forbes article for inspiration.
Use it if: you run a B2B startup or are looking to develop your personal professional network.
Once the King of social networks, the Facebook of today is better known as an advertising platform, and a very effective one at that. Facebook is comfortably the most used social network in Norway and therefore it makes sense for nearly all startup businesses to have a presence. Whether that’s for social sharing or for advertising (or both) is up to you.
Facebook’s effectiveness as a social network for business took a massive hit last year as the organic reach of posts (the average number of people who see a status update from your company page) dropped to as low as 5%. But the vast array of targeting options (you do tell Facebook everything about yourself, you know) means the advertising platform offers terrific value to startups who are able to clearly define their target market. Don’t waste money paying for “likes”, pay for clicks to a specific landing page instead.
Who uses it? Anyone and everyone. By far the most popular social network for those over 40 (in Norway).
Users in Norway: 3,127,000
Who does it well? See what Toyota Norway did.
Use it if: you run a B2C startup and/or have a clearly defined audience and want to experiment with a great value advertising platform.
Perhaps more than any other social network, Twitter is about conversation. The biggest mistake startups can make with Twitter is to use the platform as a glorified RSS feed, pumping out information. The key to success on Twitter is to engage with your audience, connect with influencers in your industry, curate the best content out there (whether authored by you or others), and listen, listen, listen. It lends itself well to a first-level support operation, too.
Twitter connects well with third-party apps such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, allowing you to keep track of lists (industry influencers, journalists, brand champions, etc) and respond quickly to comments about your brand by setting up specific search queries.
It’s not so popular in Norway, but if you are targeting a global audience I suggest an active Twitter account is essential.
Who uses it? Most brands. Many startup founders run personal accounts as well as having a company account.
Users in Norway: 849,000
Who does it well? Sharpie (great informal tone matching their brand), British Airways (weather updates and first-line support).
Use it if: you are building a global brand and/or value instant feedback.
The simple photo-sharing app has built an impressive following in Scandinavia, where it was the second most popular network until Snapchat came along.
Product and travel related businesses can see benefits from building a following by sharing images of product development or snow conditions at a ski resort, for example.
It’s a simple tool with just one opportunity to send people to your website, so make the most of your profile text with a call to action and specific landing page. Hashtags drive traffic to your image, so learn the most relevant ones for your industry.
Who uses it? B2C brands, products, designers, travel companies.
Users in Norway: 1,138,000
Who does it well? Nike (over 11m followers), Sophia Amoruso (founder of fashion store Nastygal).
Use it if: you make something, or you can describe and amplify your brand using images.
Definitely the most niche social network on this list, Pinterest is a visual pinboard allowing users to curate their own and other people’s images into collections.
Over two-thirds of Pinterest users are female, and it’s popular among fashion, food and lifestyle bloggers. In a similar way to Instagram, if you are building a brand in one of these areas, Pinterest is worth exploring.
Who uses it? predominantly female, popular with lifestyle bloggers.
Users in Norway: 209,000
Who does it well? Caribou Coffee (great case study).
Use it if: you have a visual product or are building a lifestyle brand.
To many, Snapchat is the new kid on the block. But would you believe it’s already the second most-popular social network in Norway, thanks to its spectacular popularity amongst 18-29 year-olds.
The premise of the “visual conversation” app is simple – users can share pictures with their friends but the images self-destruct after a few seconds.
Snapchat is experimenting with advertising options and youth-oriented brands are queuing up to see if Snapchat could work for them.
Who uses it? under 30s.
Users in Norway: 1,218,000
Who does it well? watch this space.
Use it if: watch this space.
Bring it all together
There are others, notably Google+ and YouTube, although I’d say the latter is a place to share your startup story rather than a social network per se. But like I said at the top of this article, focus on just one or two of these networks and do them well.
Here at Technoport, we’ve focused on building our Facebook and Twitter presence, and let our student volunteers try out the other networks. We use Facebook to build our domestic network and share our blog posts within Norway and the Nordics. You’ll see more Trondheim-specific and conference-specific items on our Facebook feed, whereas we use Twitter to connect with the world: to innovators in global corporations, VCs in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs in Africa, potential speakers for our conference, and so on. 90% of what we share on Twitter is other people’s content, positioning the Technoport brand as a global curator of innovation.
Or at least, that’s the plan. The point is, we have a plan, we are working to the plan, and we are seeing measurable results.
What’s your social media plan?
Talk startup strategy in person
Join us in Trondheim, Norway, on 18 & 19 March as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset at Technoport 2015.
Photo credits: Adam Cohn, Martin Gysler, Twitter, pshab, Thomas Hawk, UGL_UIUC,