What NOT to Do On Social Media: Startup Edition
Your startup just got round two funding, and you're itching to go. Job assignments have been handed out, everyone is multitasking since you're still just eight people, and you've just been in charge of social media and marketing. Congratulations! Wait, what?!?!
The internet is chockablock with tips and tricks for marketing your new startup on social media. These posts often neglect all the things you can do wrong while attempting to accomplish the goals they lay out. So we're here to begin correcting that oversight with a collection of the best practices NOT to do on social media as a startup.
Do NOT write about yourself, and only yourself.
We can already hear you asking, "Wait, but this is my company's social media presence, what else am I supposed to write about if not MY COMPANY?" Don't freak out like those caps make it sound like you are. The answer is quite simple: write about a problem your target audience is having, and how your company and/or product can solve it.
Remember those case studies you used when pitching VCs? Repackage them as blog posts and social media content. Have a video interview with a happy client? Sweet, post that on Facebook, then Tweet a link to it with commentary on the problem you solved for them.
You can use your existing marketing spiel to highlight the ways your digital widget will solve problems X, Y, and especially Z. Then post links to the case studies, testimonials, and even some statistics to drive your point home.
Do NOT misunderstand your social media platforms.
While there is certainly overlap in the content you can post to the various social media channels out there, there is also some basic etiquette you need to know. First and foremost, know what type of content to put where.
Twitter is for short, pithy commentary on current events in your industry. It is NOT for long form storytelling or sharing emotionally stirring customer testimonials.
Facebook is the place for those last two, along with other multimedia content you've been creating and general interaction with your audience. Go ahead, share their content, like their posts, and re-post the stuff you feel your audience would benefit from. Yes, even if it came from a competitor. This shows that you understand there's room for you both and that you appreciate their contribution to your field.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is best saved for business proposals and reading the profiles of potential new hires. The audience here skews toward the more experienced executive and other mid-career and beyond folks, so if you're looking to hire fresh-faced 18-24-year-old developers, best look elsewhere.
We're not going to cover all the outlets, but you get the idea—use each social media outlet in its intended way for maximum impact.
Do NOT misunderstand your audience.
Do your research before you start targeting them on social media. That way you reduce, or eliminate entirely, the chance of you saying something tone-deaf and alienating them before they even get to know you.
Know their pain points and how your widget will be able to help them. Know their business model and how your widget can integrate right in. Then use your social media presence to explain all of this knowledge in ways appropriate to the platform (see above). The point is to be authentic and helpful with your posts, not pushy and used-car-salesman-y.
Do NOT buy followers.
This practice died out long ago, and good riddance. In today's world of bot farms being used to steal identities and meddle in other areas of life, buying followers has gone from a slightly bad idea to being a terrible one.
If you do decide to purchase a following, understand that along with risking your legitimate followers' private information, you're also risking your own company and its data. And the last thing you want happening to your startup is for your proprietary formulas and plans to be released to the public, right?
That's all leaving out the fact that once it gets out that you did this, your legit audience will most likely lose faith in you and leave, taking their business elsewhere.
Do NOT forget the golden rule.
Or as we put it, "you get what you give."
Being nice to people online should be a given; however, it appears some people have missed this one. The bottom line is this: if you're nice to your audience, they'll be nice to you. And that eliminates the chances for bad reviews or folks complaining vocally in public forums. It also goes a long way toward fostering the trust you want your target audience to have in your company and your product.
In social media terms, this means keeping your discourse authentic and civil and reciprocating likes and shares. By re-sharing and commenting on someone's post with your followers, you show that you took the time to read their content, make thoughtful comments, and then share it with your people.
Do NOT rely solely on influencers for your SEO clout.
We're not saying don't seek the input and assistance of influencers in your industry. We're saying don't rely solely on these folks to increase your SEO juice. Influencers can have limited reach outside their niche, so you can end up pigeonholed if you're not careful.
Influencers can also have a limited lifespan in terms of relevance. They come and go faster than ever before, due in no small part to the fickle nature of the medium they embrace, social media.
Our advice here is to stick with the big players in your industry, the folks who maybe were around before social media took off are more likely to still be around after it fades.
Social media is a great way to engage potential customers and showcase your fancy new widget (or digital widget). It is also a great place to flush your reputation down the drain. Don't let that happen. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure you get the most out of your presence and avoid that drain!