by Kirk Kerr
I know first-hand that finding any sort of budget for advertising in a startup is near impossible. Most early entrepreneurs are trying to replace their income, bootstrap their business, and get investors and runway funding. With all of these hats to wear, it becomes difficult to work on your business because you are too busy working in it.
The last thing on your mind is social media, and your scarcest resource is time. However, there are many benefits to investing in your startup’s social marketing. Find out how to best use social media to scale your startup below.
Get Startup Funding
Essentially anyone who is a legal citizen and has a valid bank account and proof of identity then you are eligible for a Kickstarter campaign. Many of you are probably familiar with this fundraising platform, but there are many other ways to leverage social in your entrepreneurial venture. One obvious way is to build a brand following. When you have a limited budget, it can be difficult to get the word out, but social media is free, wide-reaching and highly targeted. This makes it an ideal mechanism for advertisement and engagement.
If you can foster a brand community early on, it will make your company a more appealing prospect for potential investors. Having strong brand advocates is an enticing situation for investors because it proves that there is a product market fit, and possibility for organic growth within you industry niche. The more influence you have, the more connections you have to leverage when looking to scale up your startup.
Building a Following
So, how do you build a following that will build your brand and influence? While there are a variety of tips and tricks that might help you on your way, there is no replacement for authentic engagement. Connect with other industry influencers, tell your brand story, engage authentically with potential customers and just be active. Don’t be overly promotional. Only about 20% of your social activity should be “social selling”. Once you have a decent number of authentic fans, you can use the insights you gain from your social audience to find more individuals who could serve as possible brand advocates.
While many social channels, like Facebook have built in analytics to gain insight into your audience, there are also third party tools, like followerwonk that can provide useful information as well. This tool helps you better understand your followers, locate and connect with influencers in your niche, visualize engagement data and build your brand. You can use this information to identify potential brand advocates and leverage your social presence, as well as that of your advocates to build your brand. These tools can also provide valuable information on your competitor’s online initiatives and allow you to replicate and improve upon them where it makes sense to do so. This sort of business intelligence can provide you with a competitive advantage.
Digital Outreach to Find Strategic Partners
The oldest, and often the most effective form of social media is email. I have had tremendous success in using email outreach to contact potential strategic partners. Companies with an established customer base can be a tremendous boon to your startup if you can turn them into brand advocates and strategic partners. The best candidates to form this type of relationship with are those that offer goods or services that are complimentary to your own and who could benefit from serving up what you have to offer.
You will likely have to sweeten the deal a bit to make your pitch successful. Offer them a referral fee or give them the ability to white-label your services and suddenly they have a new revenue stream that requires very little effort on their part. The benefit of these sorts of relationships for you is they significantly decrease your acquisition costs and you can easily increase your customer base with minimal effort. Build relationships with strategic partners and leverage their professional and social influence in building your own business.
There are many ways to leverage social to scale your startup. It can be difficult to step away and spend time on social, but there is tremendous value to be tapped in the social arena that you should be taking advantage of. Hopefully this article will play some small role in helping you on your way to social success.
Kirk Kerr graduate of the College of Idaho marketing program and an avid student of micromarketing. He balances working at his day job and his entrepreneurial ambitions. When he’s not putting his nose to the grindstone, he enjoys sports video games, binge watching Netflix, and button mashing on his Xbox One.