futurON had a great time at Social Media Week Bangalore. Experts and industry veterans spoke about their experiences, experiments, tips, tricks, challenges and lessons with social media (Click here to see the schedule for the week).
We were excited with the opportunity to represent futurON as a speaker at the event. Upon requests from some keen audience members and industry fellows, here I am converting my presentation into a blog. Will try to keep it short and simple! (Here are some pictures of the futurON talk)
Marketing within a startup life cycle
Before we jump into the do’s and don’ts, we need to understand a few parameters to this presentation.
1) Marketing needs and methods vary depending on the life cycle of a startup
> Pre launch: If you haven’t launched your startup, typically your marketing efforts are passive. You would spend time in social media listening exercises, research on competition or target audience and possibly focus your marketing plan to show the ‘Go-to-Market Strategy & growth plans’ of your startup to venture capitalists or angel investors.
> Post launch: The marketing efforts change in this phase, they start focusing on the brand awareness and brand image to various stakeholders etc. In case of startups the most important stakeholder is the customer, so the marketing needs tend to focus more on the customer in the first year or so.
In the presentation (and blog) I focus on the post launch stage. If you want me to write another blog for a pre-launch, please post in the comments below and I shall do so.
2) Social Media has increased exponentially in the number of users in the last few years – but many people think that the reason behind this is because it’s FREE and EASY. I would like to debunk this myth and tell all readers even before we kick of the Do’s and Don’ts that this is a myth. Social media is neither free nor easy.
3) The last point before we jump into the do’s and don’ts is that….well, there are no real do’s and don’ts! Why? Social media is still at a very nascent stage. The so called ‘experts’ of the industry themselves are learning by experimenting. Unfortunately, a lot of these experiments happen at the expense of the clients – but the relationship of hit or miss with social/marketing experiments is a love story with a long past.
Therefore, in this presentation I am going to simply share my experiences of success and failures with social – which can be taken as do’s and don’ts – I hope we can all learn together to create beautiful and successful social plans with minimum errors, mistakes, failures and don’ts! Here we go…
DON’T: Make social media a stand-alone plan
DO: Link it to the bigger picture – your marketing plan
As simple as this sounds, it’s pretty much a gospel truth. Before you ask how to do social, think how to BE social and even before that think about how social will tie back to your entire marketing plan. So if you have email campaigns, videos, customer service phone calls or any other marketing activity – think about how you can include you Facebook or Twitter in these. Also, think visa-versa. How can your social media include various aspects of your marketing?
To quote a simple example from futurON’s learning. For one of our clients from the finance industry, we send out a monthly newsletter. The content of the newsletter is heavily dependent on what really worked on their Facebook page. So apart from company news, any topical company blogs, posts that got shared/liked the most etc., they also have a screen shot of what the community buzz is on their Facebook page. When we started doing this – we saw an immediate increase in their Likes and comments! Simple but affective.
DON’T: Make social a platform for ‘ME TALK’
DO: Talk about things that you know your audience will relate to – in and around your core industry
We all love to talk about services, products, achievements and ‘offers’. Especially when one is a startup – it’s very easy to get into this spiral because it seems that you want the world to know everything about how awesome your new company is! However remember, especially since your company has a low brand recall at this point, people might get put off or disinterested very easily. So make your content a good mix of topics that you know your target audience will enjoy reading – and also relate it to your company/industry/product/service!
To quote a simple example from our learning, the company that comes to my mind is a Healthcare Insurance provider. Now, knowing that their core product is dental insurance we spoke about health care, dental tips, dental facts, interviews with doctors, affect of dental health on overall health etc. We then threw in product or brand posts in between these topics so that the audience not only relates to the brand – but also trusts it more. It also shows the depth of knowledge, the interest in customer health and a sense of concern for the customer’s interest in topical posts. Worked like a charm!
DON’T: Use too many platforms
DO: Be awesome at a couple and expand.
It’s very easy to just open an account in every possible platform because it’s free and looks easy. However, I strongly believe it’s better to stick to a few platforms that you know you can do well – depending on the amount of time and knowledge you have. Deciding which platform should be based on where you think you audience will be and which platform gives you the best type of content space for your industry or offering.
futurON’s decision for the launch of our client’s music album was pretty straight forward. We chose YouTube. Soundcloud and Facebook. We knew that the client had a tight budget, limited time period (because it’s for the launch of an album) and wanted maximum number of people to listen to the album and ‘Buy’ it. The combination of videos and music, along with sharing that on Facebook worked brilliantly. The album got pushed to the top of the charts on iTunes and great sales. Job done.
DON’T: Be social ad-hoc
Since we treat our business page like our personal social page or because we think social media doesn’t require the same amount of time/energy as other marketing activities, most of us (especially startups) tend to post things on social ad-hoc. Unless the posts are topical or you are a news channel – you most certainly can plan your posts.
How does this help?
➢ This helps you schedule your posts in advance so no last minute glitches
➢ It helps you spend more time in measurement, analytics and understanding of you posts. You can see check out when your posts have most reach, when is your audience online the most, which type of posts work?
➢ It helps you spend time on topical things when need be and not worry about regular posts.
➢ Less stress about hunting around for content in last minute.
I cannot stress enough about the importance of planning – we do it with all our clients and it helps the pages look better and get more engagement. End of the day your social page is like a party that you are organising – while the audience is the guest list. Would you not plan for your party? Especially when it means business!?
DON’T: Recycle your content without giving it credit and a layer of intelligence
DO: Understand your brand tonality, templates, colours
It’s easy to start posting as soon as you register a business page. However avoid making that mistake. Before you start posting, understand you brand voice and think about how your page will look – the colours, templates etc. Also, if you are posting content from other sources – always give the source it’s due credit. To make your page more credible – remember to add a layer of your own intelligence to recycled content, so that people don’t look at you as a brand with an identity crisis or lack of intelligence or lack of content.
Quick tip: Use content buckets! For one of our clients we use about six type of content units – motivation, education of audience, brand, product, client testimonials and topical events. It works really well since we don’t repeat the same type of content unit too often, mix it up and work on analysing what works best and tweaking it – instead of hunting around for content to post!
DON’T: Expect a free ride
DO: Remember that social media is also a marketing tool – have a budget and time allocated to it
As discussed earlier – it’s not free and it’s not easy. It’s easy to start and free to open an account – but to get people seeing you posts, getting good posts and for engagement on the page, we need to have a budget.
Budget for what?
➢ Time allocation – Either your own time (since your time is money – it is still a budget) or a resource whom you hire internally or externally to maintain the page for you.
➢ Creative content – Creating great content needs originality and creativity. This might require a designer.
➢ Analytics – Even if you use free tools, you need someone who can analyse it and tweak your posts accordingly.
➢ Advertising – After speaking to many people from Facebook, LinkedIn and the likes, it’s pretty clear that they want you to understand that their platforms are also a marketing tool. They want you to spend money on advertising to help you reach the right kind of audience. Even if you have the likes or followers – for your posts to reach your entire audience – you still need to advertise. So even if it’s a tiny budget – allocate a small budget for boosting, promoting, advertising and then analysing your page.
These are my lists of a few Do’s and Don’ts. This list if certainly not exhaustive, however it sure is a start. Social media is awesome, a lot of fun…some times a bit complicated if you don’t spend enough time to learn and understand it. But if you nurture it and link it to the bigger picture – it has a ton of potential.
To be fantastic at it – engage, BE social and most importantly ‘Respect the audience’. They don’t want to be sold to all the time!
Like always…look forward to your comments below!