Success with social media is something that eludes most startup teams. Almost by definition, a startup is a lean team of technologists focused on product and customer development. What we often hear: “Who has time for social media?” Or another common refrain: “Can’t the PR team just handle it?”
When it comes to social media marketing, we have a simple approach that we push startup leaders to embrace from the get-go. We call it ‘The 3 C’s’–
Conversation. Rather than thinking about social media as a channel to broadcast your product message, think of it as a conversation with your customers. That means you’ll have many opportunities to talk, but first you have to listen. And like any good conversationalist, you take turns. Gartner Group predicts that by 2020, 85 percent of customers will engage with Sales only after completing their initial research online. So if you’re not in conversation with your future customers in social media, you’re making your own sales process that much more difficult.
Content. For success with social media, responsibility for it has to be woven into your marketing strategy (the best place for that is in your content marketing plan). Some of our clients, because of the launch workload, delegate initial social media responsibilities to their PR firm. But almost every successful startup outgrows that plan because you will eventually need to have someone embedded in the company’s product/technology team who speaks your customer’s language, and who can be on the front lines to provide timely, authoritative information to questions. Your content marketing plan will help you match subject matter to your customer target, and also help you devise an editorial plan that matches topics to the appropriate social media channel– whether that’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or another.
Commitment. Like a lot of priorities in marketing (e.g. PR, lead nurturing), success depends upon a commitment of time and consistency. You can’t join the conversation that is social media and expect to see returns in two or three months. It takes a commitment of many, many months. At a minimum, think 6 months to really see meaningful engagement and connections happen in social media. And with success, social media will become less of a “to do” and more of a way to build relationships and develop customers. Because that’s where your customers are: already in conversation on social media channels.