I can attest from personal experience that finding a budget for advertising in a startup is extremely difficult. Many in the early stages of an entrepreneurial venture find they are too busy working in their business to work on it. However, if you get too mired in the day to day, and neglect the big picture, you limit your capacity for growth, and potential for profit. Even some of the most successful startups in recent history did not have the access we have to customers with social media.
With all the other strains on a startup, it can be challenging to focus on something as seemingly inconsequential as social media. However, it is important not to overlook the low cost, and broad reach that social media provides. This post will detail some of the possible ways to leverage social in scaling your startup.
Get Startup Funding
As many of you are probably already aware, there are many startups that have been successfully funded by Kickstarter. If you have proof of identity and a bank account, you are likely eligible to kicks tart your startup. However, there are other ways to use social sourcing to utilize social media in your startup. One obvious way is to build a brand following. When identifying a product market fit for your product or service, it is important to gauge customer demand, solicit opinions, identify key features and more. If you are able to build and engage with loyal followers on social, then you have a built in sounding board to acquire the necessary information you need to develop your offering and tailor it to your target market.
If you can prove that there is a demand for your product and that you have a built-in audience and demand for your product, then you will be much more attractive to potential investors. By proving the demand, you eliminate the speculative nature of investing and reduce investor risk. It is not concrete evidence, but social engagement is key to modern marketing, so if you can effectively demonstrate this for your brand, it will be a tremendous value added for those interested in becoming stakeholders in your company.
Building a Following
So, how do you build a brand following? There are a myriad of ways to build awareness for your brand, there is no replacement for authentic engagement. Connect with other influencers in the industry, make your brand relatable, engage genuinely with your and be present in conversations relevant to your brand, and important to your customers. Avoid being overly sales-oriented in your social engagement. 80% of the time you should be discussing things other than your product. After you have built a decent following of authentic, engaging individuals, you can use this follower base to garner insights about what other prospective customers might look like and build effective buyer personas. Just make sure you are listening to the right people.
Most popular social networks have built in analytics, but there are a number of third party applications like followerwonk that can provide actionable intel also. This tool helps you analyze your twitter following, find and connect with other niche influencers, delve into in-depth engagement metrics and more. Tools like this can help you better understand your existing audience and identify distinguishing characteristics that you can use to focus in on potential customers that would be receptive to your brand message as well. You can also use these tools to analyze your competitors' social marketing and select which initiatives are effective, and which can be improved upon and emulated.
Digital Outreach to Find Strategic Partners
A valuable byproduct of finding niche influencers in social media is identifying potential strategic partners. I have found in my own startup that many companies would love an opportunity to expand their service offering, but lack the capacity or expertise. If you can effectively identify companies similar to your own, that offer complimentary goods or services, there is a decent chance they could become a strategic partner for your startup.
While it is unlikely that they will give you business for free, there are a number of ways to make your pitch successful. Offer them a finder's fee or give to white label your services as their own. This will provide them with a new revenue stream with very little effort and reduce your customer acquisition costs. When you acquire new partners, your reach is multiplied and you are able to utilize their audience and brand influence to grow your own business.
These are only a few ways that investing in social can boost your business. While it can be difficult to free up your time and attention to focus on social, hopefully now you realize the importance of doing so. Get out there and start taking advantage of this amazing, low cost marketing tool. You might just be surprised at the results.