by Daniel Adams
You’ve had your killer idea, you’ve moved out of your bedroom and into a swanky shared space, and you’re itching to launch yourself into social media space. But there are precisely zero dollars lurking in your carefully crafted budget for social media – what’s the bootstrapped startup to do?
The social media sphere is the perfect spot for startups, with the potential to connect to an eager audience of millions. You want to get out there and build your digital presence, without a huge investment of your hard-earned money, or time.
Luckily, there are ways for bootstrapped startups to jump on the social media bandwagon – even if you’re just one person with a smartphone.
Let’s start small and easy, and most importantly – free. You need a social media strategy. Think about what you want to achieve from your social media – new customers; engagement with your brand and products; a demonstration of your expertise in your industry? If you’re limited with your time (and which multi-tasking startup isn’t), consider the social networks you want to invest your efforts in. There’s your traditional big player channels like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ – but now there’s also Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Vine… the list goes on. Choose which platforms are most suited to your needs and desired outcome and concentrate your efforts there.
Once you’ve got your plan, you need a process. Set it, and stick to it so you’ve got a set time every day to schedule your posts, respond to queries, and hunt for your share-worthy content. Easy.
When it comes to finding your content, there’s so much great free stuff out there. Google Alerts is your digital bloodhound, sniffing out the topics and keywords you ask it to – keep abreast of the latest news in your industry so you become the go-to spot for up-to-the-minute industry-related expertise. Keep your content fresh with media posts too – Creative Commons search will track down content you can share and use, including images, music, videos, and media.
If you’re firmly a DIYer, there are social media management tools that’ll help you streamline your social media processes. Hello mass posting and responding to comments across multiple channels from one handy dashboard. Look into Hootsuite (which offers a free version) or Buffer (starting from $50 a month, or give the free trial a go) to get you started.
If you’d rather get some external help, you could hire a student studying marketing. Their fresh ideas and enthusiasm will spark your social media creativity, and you’ll benefit from all their expert learning. They’re usually quite flexible around their timetable, and they’ll be grateful for the opportunity to gain invaluable work experience with an innovative entrepreneur (that’s you).
Another alternative, to really nail your social media (without incurring the wrath of Condescending Corporate Brand, or achieving infamous notoriety from a particularly poor choice of social media post – Epicurious we’re looking at you), is to consider low cost social media marketers. Some, like Ninth Social, are targeted exclusively towards startups so they’ll understand your small business needs. Letting others manage your social media for you, for not a huge amount of your monthly budget (Ninth Social charges just $149 a month), means your precious time can be spent on more important things.
That’s social media ticked off your never-ending to-do list then. Onwards!
Daniel Adams is the founder of Foolsy, a website dedicated to the software needs of small businesses. Helping small businesses to avoid costly mistakes, Foolsy provides honest, impartial reviews of leading small business apps. Follow Foolsy on Google+ and Twitter.
Terry Johnston | Courtesy of Daniel Adams