Social media is a vital marketing tool for startups. It’s a low-cost way to build your brand, reach new customers and grow a community around your business – but creating a thriving online presence isn’t easy.
We spoke to founders in The Pitch community who have all built a successful online presence for their startups. You’ll find out how to:
- Use social media to hone your marketing messaging
- Get more from long-form videos
- Give yourself a framework for video content
- Utilise your social media network
1. Know where your audiences are
Frankie Docker co-founded Hey! Food is Ready, an online marketplace that connects certified cooks from different cultural backgrounds with companies looking for a diverse selection of food at their events.
She recommends finding out where your audiences spend time and adapting your messaging on each platform to fit the relevant customer persona.
“A lot of the time the same content is redistributed across platforms with little to no changes made. For a marketplace like ours, we segment our channels. The messaging will be different depending on who we are targeting – is it a client, cook or our wider network?” she said.
Frankie also advises founders not to dismiss offline marketing, explaining that it can be just as important (if not more important) for engagement levels with your business.
“Whether it’s networking or speaking on the radio, offline interactions can really affect your online presence.”
2. Break down long-form content into multiple clips
It’s common to feel overwhelmed when you have to juggle running a business with maintaining your marketing efforts. But creating engaging, varied content for your social media channels isn’t always as time consuming as you might think.
Jonathan Reid is the founder of Reidentify, a startup which helps businesses launch, automate and scale their podcasts. He recommends recording an hour-long video (whether you’re talking to a colleague, guest or just yourself) which can then be used in lots of different ways.
“Creating long-form content then breaking it down into short-form content is one way that makes life so much easier – because then you only have to create one piece of content. From an hour-long recording, I’d say you could get at least a dozen clips, depending on how you structure it,” he said.
3. Create polls to survey your audience
If you’re short on time, it’s easy to put a few social media posts into your scheduling tool and call it quits. But while this will keep your social media accounts alive, it’s unlikely to give you the audience engagement and growth you’re looking for.
Gaby Mendes is the founder of the Talk Twenties podcast. Her advice for other founders is simple: “survey your audience and use polls and interactivity to actually engage with them!”.
4. Learn how people want to be spoken to
Budgeting app Financielle has almost 70k followers on TikTok. Co-founder Laura Pomfret has used the app to learn what topics and language resonate with their audience, so they can fine-tune their marketing messaging.
“If we serve up a TikTok that says, ‘interest rates are going up today’ and then one that says, ‘let me tell you how I ditched 10k debt in a year’, the debt one will do better. It resonates with people more because of the language that we use, the fact that it’s a real problem and the fact we’ve genuinely given tips,” she said.
“If I was just telling someone the interest rate has gone up, I could go into what it could mean for you but I probably just turned off the majority of our audience because they don’t want to hear the phrase ‘interest rate’. We’ve used TikTok to learn how people want to be spoken to.”
5. Use different formats for your videos
When your mind is elsewhere, it can be challenging to get creative and record videos for social media. However, if your audience is on TikTok or Instagram, this is a hurdle you’ll have to overcome in order to build up a strong social media presence.
Reidentify’s Jonathan recommends choosing three or four formats for your video content to give yourself a repeatable framework.
“There might be a ‘talking head’ format that you frequently use, which is you looking at the camera and talking about a specific topic. Another format might be sharing your thoughts on your phone when you’re walking down the street. Those videos do very well because they’re authentic. Another format might be clips from long-form videos you’ve recorded,” Jonathan said.
“Having those consistent formats always helps, because then you don’t really have to think too much about, ‘oh, what should I record next? Where should I record next?’. You already have your three formats and your locations in mind.”
As Jonathan explains, having set formats and locations makes it easier to film video content. If you’ve filmed in a park before, it’s easier to get your phone out and film next time you’re on a walk, plus your followers will know what to expect.
Watch our free video course to learn how to create a short-form video strategy to scale your social media following. Sign up here and we’ll send the three-part course straight to your inbox.
6. Build your brand identity
When your startup is still in the early stages, it’s tough to establish your brand identity. Taking a few extra minutes to add consistent branding to social media images and videos can go a long way to setting your posts apart when people are scrolling.
“Try and include your brand colours in your videos in some way. Let’s say for example, you were talking about a family and there might be a picture that pops up on screen of a family. If your main brand colour is orange, that might have an orange border,” Jonathan said.
“That way, you’re able to carry your consistent theme from your branding over to your social content just by doing that one simple thing.”
7. Utilise your network
If you’re putting the hard work into building your social media presence, don’t forget to reap the rewards.
A strong social media account doesn’t just give you the opportunity to sell more. It can allow you to make connections and open doors that will propel your business forward.
Nadia Leguel is the co-founder of WagIt, an online platform that helps dog owners find dog-friendly restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels. Her main tip for other founders is: “if you don’t ask, you won’t get it.”
“One of my most memorable success stories is when I turned to LinkedIn for help with a tricky situation I found myself in. I had been selected to pitch at a significant event in Berlin, which was a fantastic opportunity. However, there was a major obstacle – I couldn’t afford the event ticket, which cost £1.5k,” Nadia said.
“I decided to reach out on LinkedIn to seek advice and support. To my surprise, in less than an hour, someone came forward and offered me an event ticket, as they had one spare. It was an incredible act of kindness and generosity that allowed me to seize the opportunity. Plus, I connected with other people who were going. Never underestimate the power of community and networking.”
8. The more you do, the more you grow
Finally, remember there’s no surefire way to build your social media presence up overnight. It will take time to learn what content and platform works best for your business.
“The first or second video we put on TikTok got 40k views off the bat and I said to my friend, ‘is this just how TikTok works? Is it going to be like this forever?’. Apparently not, because the next videos got maybe 300 views,” Jonathan remembers.
“Look at it like the lottery. The more lottery tickets you get, the more likely you are to win the lottery. So the more videos you post, the more chances you’re going to get some sort of viral video or a little bit more attention on your videos as a whole.”
He adds the caveat that while numbers are important, it’s also key to make sure that you’ve got the right people watching too.
“There was one video we did that only got about 250 views. We were just talking about an event that we had, but it ended up driving quite a few ticket sales. So don’t be discouraged if you aren’t seeing the views come in straight away. It’s not always about how many people are watching the videos – it’s about whether the right people are watching the videos.”
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