More Bang For The Tradeshow Buck For B2B Startups

Tradeshows are expensive and as a startup our participation is completely unaffordable. The ROI for B2B events is uncertain. Does this sound familiar? As a B2B focused social media marketing agency we at Midas Touch get pulled into this argument often but somewhat contrary to expectations our response is not always an outright rejection. We believe that there may well be a case for B2B focused startups to seriously consider tradeshows as a part of their marketing mix.

Why should my startup go at-all?

The benefits of participating in Tradeshows are well known. For starters – where else can you access such a large, reasonably homogenous group of target customers together? The opportunity to engage with them and start the long process of relationship building, what old timers called networking, is apparent. Such a focused gathering also offers a great opportunity to craft a very specific message and broadcast it in a “gatekeeper” free environment. There are also undeniable benefits to visibly being a part of a community your target customers obviously care about. In most cases merely attending the event can also deliver acceptable returns provided some tactical steps are taken.

The importance of specific content

First understand that a lot of preparation is involved – generally the larger the event the longer the time you will have to spend in the groundwork. The first step starts well in advance of the actual event – define the message likely to appeal to the audience at the event and start creating high quality content to reflect that. This includes informative blogs on your website, thought-leadership oriented articles in online publications that target the same audience and more salesy “hard-copy” collateral.

The next step is to start a structured effort to get that content in front of the people it is intended for. The aim should be to associate your startup with the chosen subject in the minds of the target audience and the best way to do this is for them to “find” your content as they go online to answer their questions or to seek information. To do this we can turn to social media as well as some more “direct” action.

Getting the content “found” – social media

Twitter and LinkedIn are the weapons of choice in the B2B Social Media space. Most trade events these days invest in building a social trail – on Twitter this may take the form of a dedicated Twitter handle and a hashtag associated with the event and on LinkedIn long running events may have Groups of past and prospective participants. This presents startups an opportunity to become a part of a conversation larger than their own circles by associating themselves with these online properties.

One approach would be to start with teaser mentions on Twitter about the event that use the appropriate hashtags and in the period leading up to the event increase the mentions. Live tweeting impressions and opinions of proceedings during the event will grab some eyeballs and continuing the tweets in the immediate aftermath of the event will help your startup stay in the eyeline and linked to the event.

On LinkedIn the approach has to be different – updating your company page to reflect your participation is important to inform those who already follow your startup. Going into the LinkedIn group associated with the event and in other groups of people likely to be similarly interested is also worthwhile but has to be approached sensitively. These forums are not the place to shamelessly promote oneself or one’s participation – a more subtle approach is called for. For eg. a mention of something newsworthy from previous conferences or your own expectations from the upcoming one is a good way to invite opinions from other people who would also be in attendance.

Direct action- The role of email campaigns

Email campaigns should be planned as the tradeshow approach. Here step 1 is to identify the people attending the event that you would like to connect with. The list of the speakers at the conference could be the first port of call. The next stop could be the list of sponsors and exhibitors – chances are the top people in those companies will be in attendance. A carefully crafted email to these people referring to the tradeshow in the subject line stands a better chance of being read than other “cold” emails. The email should set out crisply what you hope to achieve from attending the event and seek an opportunity for a conversation while there. Following up, both with people who have confirmed meetings and those who have not, is critically important but a fine line has to be toed here so you don’t cross over into spammer territory. The timing of the emails is important – too early won’t work and too close to the show won’t do.

Following this script in prep should both improve your chances of meeting people that matter at the event and also in getting the word out to the rest of the people attending about your startup’s relevance in the space. After that it’s off to the races – make sure you have loads of business cards to hand out!

B2B Social Media – Answers to 10 Most Fundamental Questions

B2B Social Media - Answers to 10 Most Fundamental Questions

Midas Touch, the company I run, is a B2B Specialist, digital and social media marketing agency. Through that, over the past few years, we have got an opportunity to interact with hundreds of businesses offering products and services to other businesses – also called as B2B services. A few years ago, businesses were almost convinced that social media does not work for B2B. However, things have radically changed now. Several studies, stats, research, and experiences have convinced organizations that if they have to survive in today’s competitive marketplace, they have no option but to adopt social media optimally.

The challenge, however, occurs when the team handling their social media does not understand the intricacies of B2B social media – one needs to understand that it is very different than B2C social media and needs some special expertise.

As a starting point, I am sharing answers to some of the most fundamental questions about B2B Social media –

What is the importance of a blog for a B2B business?

In our experience, we have seen that the blog section is typically one of the top three most viewed sections on the website. The blog offers you a great opportunity to create fresh content for your website (Google loves fresh content), it allows you to answer the latest questions of your target audience, it helps you establish your thought leadership, and it helps you appear as a knowledge expert in your industry. I would highly recommend having an active blog section on your website.

Can the in-house subject matter experts write the blogs?

Before I answer this question, let us first understand what is a relevant and appropriate blog article. A relevant blog article should answer the questions of your target audience, it should educate your audience (and not sell), it should talk about the solutions to the buyer’s problems (and not the features of your product/ service), and it should make the reader the hero (your product should not take the center stage). B2B content writing is a specific skill. I have earlier written about the traits of successful B2B content writers. If you have subject matter experts who are skillful writers and understand all these aspects, they can absolutely write the blogs for your business.

What all types of content can I create?

B2B businesses think that blog posts are the only form of content which they can create. However, that’s not true. There are multiple other options such as infographics, eBooks or whitepapers. Infographics are highly visual and extremely useful for establishing thought leadership. You can use these to create awareness and start conversations with your target audience. Whitepapers and eBooks are very good authoritative reports and more in-depth than a blog. They can be used to address specific business issues in detail with in-depth research and original point of view. These are excellent sources to demonstrate technical knowledge or business information. These can be your very good weapons for specific targeted campaigns and lead generation. You can also use other forms of content such as webinars or podcasts.

What is the role of webinars and podcasts?

Webinars and podcasts are great mediums to generate awareness about your brand and also to get qualified leads. These are brilliant tools to move the prospects up in the interest ladder. You can conduct webinars with your customers or industry experts. Product webinars are also very effective for keeping the prospects engaged.

Which are the most relevant social channels for B2B content promotion?

LinkedIn is the most active and vibrant social channel for professionals. People use LinkedIn not only for job search but also for professional connections, social selling, thought leadership (through LinkedIn Pulse) and group participation. So you definitely have to consider LinkedIn, LinkedIn Company Page, and LinkedIn Groups as your prominent social channels. Next, I would recommend Twitter. Twitter is extremely effective for sharing your content, easily connecting with industry experts and influencers, and joining the ongoing conversations. SlideShare is an another good channel for lead capture if you have very high quality, educational presentations. The tight integration of SlideShare with LinkedIn makes the promotion of those presentations easy. If you have very good quality videos, you should consider using YouTube because that’s the second most used search engine. In the B2B context, you can upload your conference speaker videos or product videos on YouTube. There are many other channels as well and the choice depends on where your target audience is. However, these four would top my list in most of the scenarios.

Is Facebook relevant for B2B?

It’s very tempting to say “It depends”. But let me elaborate more on this. Facebook is a great channel to reach out to the audience outside your sphere of influence. However, remember that people are on Facebook to connect with their families and friends. When they are on Facebook, they usually have no intent of doing any research or study for their business needs. Therefore, while Facebook makes it a great channel if you are running a restaurant, eCommerce site, or a salon, it is not a great medium if you want to reach out to serious buyers when they are looking for solutions to their problems. Having said that, Facebook is a great platform for talent acquisition and talent branding for B2B businesses.

Within how much time can I start getting leads from social media?

Let’s understand this – Social media and content marketing are (crucial) parts of your overall sales funnel. These are not the ONLY channels for your sales. B2B sale is a complex process where multiple stakeholders are involved and they are evaluating the vendors at multiple stages for various things. You, as the vendor, need to ensure that you are in front of the buyer when she is doing her research, you are helping her in her decision making, appearing as a knowledge partner, and creating a positive impression about your company. Let’s be honest here – It is quite unlikely that someone will read a piece of content written by you and immediately fill out the contact form on your site (aka convert into a lead).

How should I measure the RoI?

Almost everything about social media is highly trackable and measurable – which, of course, is good. I would highly recommend you measure both the qualitative as well as quantitative RoI. By qualitative RoI, I mean things like who is engaging with you, what are the questions people are asking you, which hashtags are working for you etc. By quantitative RoI, I mean you can track things like impressions (which is a great measure of visibility), overall engagement with your content, visits to your site, time spent on your site by the people who are coming from social channels, downloads for specific items like eBook and whitepaper etc.

What is the best way to integrate the offline events with social media?

Social is a great way to leverage the offline events like conferences and events. For starters, you can always create online buzz about your event through social platforms by creating specific event hashtags. If you are attending a conference, you can engage with other people who are talking about the conference. You can also engage with specific speakers or exhibitors since almost everyone is on social these days. Twitter works very well for all such things. The other way is to do live promotion of the event – as the easiest option, you can do the live tweeting. Post the conference, you can share your experience and learnings through blog posts.

What is the role of personal branding of the founder?

People connect with people and not with companies. In the B2B context, therefore, it is very important to remember that your company brand also needs a face. People want to know who are the people behind the company, their backgrounds, and their expertise. Having a well-developed LinkedIn profile is just the starting point. The founders of the companies should focus on building their personal brand through blog articles, active online presence through LinkedIn and Twitter. I have shared more detailed views on the importance and how to of personal branding, here.

I hope this article helped you in getting answers to your common questions. If you have any more questions, I will be happy to answer those. Just post those in the comments below!

10 Mind-blowing B2B Social Media Stats and What Those Mean for B2B Companies

10 Mind-blowing B2B Social Media Stats and What Those Mean for B2B Companies

A few years ago, when I started Midas Touch, I found myself explaining to companies and business leaders what social media is and what is its relevance for businesses. Fast forward a few years, today, businesses come to us saying that they want to do social media but not really sure how to do it and what exactly to expectfrom it.

I know that all of us keep on reading a lot of stats and quotes around social media and get impressed, confused, overwhelmed, or worried by those – because sometimes, we don’t understand what those mean to us or to our business.

At Midas Touch, we specialize in B2B social media. We work with B2B companies to help them with their social media, digital and content marketing strategy and execution. I, therefore, very curiously and enthusiastically read various stats and quotes around #B2BSocialMedia.

Here I have picked up 10 such stats and let me take this opportunity to talk through each of these and what these mean for B2B businesses.

  1. 80% of all B2B social media leads come from LinkedIn (Source)

Well, this does not surprise me. LinkedIn is one of the largest professional social media networks. Most of the business decision makers at least have a presence on LinkedIn and they use it for professional networking. LinkedIn offers interesting options in the form on LinkedIn Pulse and LinkedIn Groups, which, when used properly, can immensely help in building thought leadership, connecting with the relevant audience, forming a positive impression about you/ your company in front of your target audience, and also driving traffic to your website. We have ourselves seen some phenomenal results through interactions in LinkedIn groups for our clients. As a B2B company, LinkedIn is a must-have for your B2B social media strategy – and mind you, it is not limited to creating a LinkedIn company page.

  1. 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product (Source)

Surprised? Don’t be. Think about it. As B2C buyers, we all do a lot of online research before any product purchase. Why should it be any different for B2B? Today, the B2B buyers are very clear about their requirements and what they are looking for. They are doing research online to find answers to their questions. If during their research, you appear in front of them and are able to create a positive impression, then your chances of appearing in their shortlist are much higher. This can very well be achieved through a strong content strategy and social media marketing on the platforms which are relevant for B2B companies.

  1. Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. (Source)

A lot has been written about why and how of content marketing. Adopting content marketing is no more optional. It has become almost mandatory for B2B businesses to have a strong content marketing strategy and a solid execution in place. You need to, however, remember that B2B content writing is fundamentally different that B2C content writing. Therefore, look for B2B content writer specific traits in the writers whom you hire for writing the content. More about the traits, here.

  1. 55% of B2B buyers say they search for product/vendor information on social media (Source)

Yes, social media is no more a channel just for networking or fun. People are doing some serious research and connections on social media. As a B2B business, therefore, it is not only important for you to have an active presence on social media (on channels like Twitter, LinkedIn or SlideShare) but it is also important that you create the right impression and connect with the right people through the social channels. The theme, tone, quality and quantity of social updates need to be carefully defined and executed.

  1. 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (Source)

As the old saying goes “No one likes to be sold; everyone likes to buy.” Today, B2B buyers want to make an informed decision. So rather than going by what is simply “told” to them, they like to read up and get “convinced” before making the decision. This further reinforces the need for content marketing for B2B enterprises. A note of caution here, though – writing a blog about your product features and benefits is also a form of advertising J You need to focus on answering the questions of your buyers rather than focusing on selling your products and services.

  1. 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level or vice-president level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions (Source)

Another myth is busted! If you thought that the top level executives are not on social media, you are wrong. They are extremely active on social platforms, seeking information, connecting with the relevant people and engaging in interesting conversations. You just need to find them and engage with them in a right way.

  1. 57% of purchase decisions are made before a customer ever talks to a supplier, and (Source)

Yes, gone are the days when the sales person could drive the conversation and the decision making. Today, the B2B buyers want to be well-informed even before they contact the vendor. As a B2B vendor, it is, therefore, your responsibility to appear as a knowledge partner to the buyer, be available and active on social platforms, listen to the needs and problems of the potential buyers, and connect with them in a non-intrusive way.

  1. By 2020, 80% of the buying process is expected to occur without any direct human-to-human interaction. (Source)

This means that the buyer is going to expect all the touch-points to be online. In a way, it is a good news and challenging as well. Good news because you get a level playing field. Your chances of being in front of the buyer are as good as any other vendor. Challenging because the onus lies completely on you to create the right online impression in front of the buyers and be able to connect with them through online medium.

  1. 90% of B2B buyers say when they are ready they will find you. (Source

It has become extremely important for B2B companies to understand the buyers’ journey and align their marketing and sales efforts on those lines. Today, the buyers’ journey is digital. They are already aware and in some cases, they are already in the consideration phase and ready to make the purchase decision. They are developing their vendor list, doing a social media analysis, engaging with possible vendors, and exactly know what questions to ask. Are you ready to be found?

  1. There may be 7-20 people involved in any given B2B purchasing decision. (Source

Not surprising, right? B2B purchase decisions are more complex, affect a larger set of individuals, and have a bigger business impact. It is obvious that multiple people will be involved in the overall decision-making. What the vendors need to know is that they should be able to talk to all these people – of course, online. They should be able to provide answers to the questions of all the decision makers and should be able to connect and engage with all of them. This means that you will need to rely on a variety of content types such as blog articles, whitepapers, case studies and also depend on a wider variety of channels such as social media, emails for connection and engagement.

 

Have you come across any such compelling stats? Do share as comments and I will include all the relevant ones in the article – of course, with due credits to you!

B2B Social Media Marketing 101

B2B Social Media Marketing 101

Of course branding and awareness are also roles that can be played effectively by B2B marketing, but from my point of view these are only supporting roles—secondary to the primary objective of helping drive sales.” — Mac Macintosh

If you ask how is B2B social media different from B2C social media, I believe this quote summarizes it all. In B2B social media, influence matters over popularity. Relevance matters over numbers. More than the features and functions of the products, businesses want to do business with trusted advisors.

Gone are the days when the sales person of the vendor could dictate and decide the flow of information for the potential buyer. Today, buyers have become much more informed and aware of what they want. They are doing their own research online, searching for the answers to their questions – it is important for you, as the vendor, to ensure that through your content marketing and social media, you are found and are in front of them when they are looking for the information. As per SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buying process in a complex sale is already complete before the prospects even engage with a salesperson.

Let’s understand the various aspects of B2B social media – any B2B business wanting to start with their social media initiatives should consider all these factors

Objectives

The first and foremost thing, like all strategic initiatives, is to identify and finalize the goals and objectives. “Getting more leads” is a good and obvious objective but remember that it is a long-term objective. Do note that social media offers many great opportunities and you should not miss on those – aim for things like “establishing thought leadership”, “getting in front of more audience”, “engaging with prospects and customers”, “driving more traffic to the website”. As Chris Brogan has very aptly said: “Marketers need to build digital relationships and REPUTATION before closing a sale.”

Content Marketing

Yes, any conversation about B2B social media is incomplete with the mention of content marketing. You have heard stats like “88% of B2B marketers currently use content marketing as part of their marketing strategy”. But content marketing is a lethal weapon and needs to be used accurately. B2B content marketing is a different ball game altogether. It is about telling stories. It is about not about you or your products. It is about your buyers, their problems, and solutions to their problems. It is about telling stories where the potential buyer is the hero. B2B content marketers need to have specific traits. Apart from being skillful writers, they are process oriented, they are storytellers, they understand social media, and much more. (You can read more on this here).

The importance of choosing a right channel

You might be very comfortable using Facebook, but does it make it the best social channel for your business? You don’t know of many success stories with Twitter, does it make it an irrelevant channel? How can you leverage LinkedIn? There are 700+ social channels and putting your energy in leveraging the right channel is very important. Our experience at Midas Touch has been that Twitter and LinkedIn are very effective channels for B2B social media. Twitter is a great medium to connect with prospects, customers, and influencers. It is a wonderful medium to share the content which is relevant to your industry, show your interest areas and also share your own content. LinkedIn, of course, is undoubtedly the number one professional network and, therefore, very relevant when it comes to B2B social media. LinkedIn company page and LinkedIn groups can be very well leveraged for engaging with the prospects and opinion makers in the industry.

What to expect?

Of course, the end objective is to get more leads to the business and that’s where social media is going to help. But if you expect that people are going to read your content and are going to fill out the contact form on your website immediately, then, that’s not how it works in the B2B space. Social media and quality content will help you establish your thought leadership, be in front of the right audience when they are looking for answers to their questions, and help the vendors form a positive opinion about you. The key is being patient with the efforts. At the same time, constantly measure and monitor the results and the impact in terms of visits to your website, engagement with your content, social connection etc. Remember, social media is a strategy and not a campaign.

Keep your customer at the center of the social media strategy is – leverage the best channels, have a strong content strategy and use an integrated approach. You are sure to benefit from it!

Seven Deadly Sins of Startup Social Media Marketing

Seven Deadly Sins of Startup Social Media Marketing

Yeah, I made mistakes but…life doesn’t come with instructions.

Sure it does not. But that’s not the case with social media – there is certainly some good advice out there to help you avoid blunders on social media. After all, mistakes are meant for learning and not repeating, right?

So what are some of the common mistakes which companies, especially startups, make while defining and executing their social media strategy? Here is what I have found –

#1 Incorrect Platforms

Agreed – Facebook has 1.44 billion monthly active users (as of Mar 31, 2015). But you can’t have the whole universe as your target audience. In today’s time and age, when everyone is spoilt for choice, the most important marketing decision you need to make is defining the target audience. Targeted marketing is the key of the game – and targeted marketing is by definition exclusionary. You need to clearly define your target audience and once that is done, you need to identify the platforms on which YOUR target audience is active. Remember – nobody searches for a job on Facebook or looks for a Hotel review on LinkedIn. Being present on the most popular platform does not make sense if your target audience is not active there. Here is some quick help when it comes to popular platforms:

Facebook – It’s a good platform when

  • You have highly visual content.
  • You want to leverage the community effect
  • You want to build trust in the minds of the users by leveraging their friends network
  • You are ready to spend on ads – the recent changes in Facebook algorithm have made it very difficult to organically reach out to the fans

Twitter – It is a good platform to

  • Broadcast your message
  • Join the on-going conversations
  • Connect with thought leaders and people that matter to you
  • Build a position for yourself

LinkedIn – Consider using it when

  • You are a B2B company
  • You want to connect with the professional audience and establish your thought leadership within a group of homogeneously targeted audience

Google+ – Good platform to

  • Help you with your SEO efforts
  • Participate in Google communities to connect with like-minded people

Pinterest – You can use it when

  • Your primary target audience include women
  • You have highly visual content to share

These of course are just guidelines. You need to do a more thorough research and brainstorming to finalize the social platforms for your brand.

#2 Doing Too Much or Too Little

Once you choose a social platform, you need to commit to it. Having an inactive presence on any of the platforms creates a bad impression. Having the last tweet date as 2 years back is worse than not having a Twitter handle. You need to show activity on the social platforms and need to have consistency. The opposite is also true – you just can’t do too much. Don’t bombard your LinkedIn company page followers with 10 updates a day just because that will give you more number of impressions!

#3 Ignoring Content Marketing

Content marketing is the gasoline of your social media efforts. You need to have good blog articles to showcase your expertise. You need interesting infographics to share with your audience. eBooks are good to share as a free giveaway. Whitepapers are excellent way of establishing your thought leadership. You need content. Period. Just don’t ignore it from your social media strategy. Not having enough bandwidth to create content cannot be an excuse today.  

#4 Inappropriate Content or Self Promotion

Each platform has different content need. Don’t make the mistake of pushing the same content on all the platforms just because there are tools available which allow you to do so. Each platform requires different tone of messaging and different type of content. More importantly, you also need to mind the timing of your updates. Your audience is not going to be present on all the platforms at the same time. Social media does require some serious time and attention commitment and it demands that. Don’t get away with easy options of auto schedule without giving it a serious thought or having a proper plan in place. Another thing to keep an eye on is the type of content you share. Too much of self-promotion is a big turn-off. Just because you are excited about your product or services does not mean that you can talk about it all day long. Have a good balance of education, industry insights, engagement, and self-promotion in your content sharing. 

#5 No Personal Branding

People relate with people – and this is especially true for startups where people are buying the services from the founders more than from the company. So it is important that startups include the personal branding of their founders in their social media planning and strategy. You need a face for your company.

Personal Branding
Photo Courtesy: http://bit.ly/1P0yIp6

#6 Canned Responses to Negative Comments

Lot of companies shy away from social media because of the fear of negative comments. But note that negative comments are in-fact good opportunities for you to build trust in the minds of your readers. Read more about it here. One of the foremost thing you need to remember while handling negative comments on the social platform is that you should NEVER give a canned response to any negative comment. Be personal and show genuine interest in solving the problem. Acknowledge the issue, take genuine actions to resolve it. If the there is a mistake, accept it and take all efforts to resolve it. Check this example here from Zappos – simply brilliant. Isn’t it?

Photo Courtesy- http://bit.ly/1dNplZm

#7 Not aligning with the target audience in terms of tone and messaging

Try and align as much as you can with your target audience – if you are targeting the youth, introduce some quirkiness in your overall messaging. If you are targeting CXOs, maintain a professional tone. Just make sure that your marketing tone matches with your company culture. After all, today, marketing is no more the job of marketing department only. It is the job of each and every person representing the company. Here is a latest brilliant example of this –


Do share your experience on what worked and what did not work for you. It’s all about sharing knowledge, isn’t it?

This article was originally published at YourStory.

#Startups – Your Social Media Questions are Answered Here!

Startup Social Media

The Year 2014 has been great for me and my company MidasTouch. We won awards, we got a chance to work with some amazing new companies and we launched some new offerings – especially for startups.

Based on several interactions with startups, I can clearly see that startups not only understand the importance of social media but also want to do something concrete and substantial on social media, which can deliver them definite business outcomes.

There are some common questions which I hear often. Here I have tried to answer those –

  1. There are 700+ social media platforms – which one is right for me?

It is quite natural to feel overwhelmed by the choice of tools and technologies. I see that many founders and startups feel that it is important to “create a presence” on as many platforms as possible. A point to note here is “creating a presence” does not mean creating an account. Having an account which is completely inactive creates a worse impression than having no account. The choice of platform should depend on the answers to these questions – a) Where does your target audience hang out? and b) What do you want to achieve? For example: A B2B software services company, LinkedIn and Twitter become valid choices. Whereas; perhaps for a restaurant, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest will make more sense.

  1. Is content marketing for me?

Content marketing is for everyone. More than “should I go for it?” you need to start thinking “how well should I do it?”. Lot of companies are not even aware of the vast knowledge bank which exists within the company itself. As a starting point for your content marketing strategy, think about extracting that knowledge and present it in a readable and promotable format. You don’t need to jump to whitepapers and eBooks in the very first month – blog is a great place to start with.

  1. Does social media work for B2B?

Absolutely it does! Have a look at my earlier detailed post on this. More importantly, you can derive ROI from your B2B social media marketing efforts too. The key lies in defining a solid social media strategy – which includes defining the goals you want to achieve, selecting the right platforms, defining the right strategy for social media posts, constantly measuring the results and refining the strategy based on feedback and results.

  1. Will social media help me get 10 customers?

Why not? Let us consider following examples:

  • Example 1: Recently, while browsing my Facebook timeline, I saw a friend of mine had liked a post from a dance class. I immediately dialed the number of the dance class and joined the batch. Technically, the dance class got a new customer through Facebook.
  • Example 2: You are representing a software services company. In one of the groups on LinkedIn, you noticed an interesting conversation and participate in that. You put forward your point of view. Through those interactions, you connect with another member of the group and that leads you to a new customer.
  • Example 3: You have posted an amazing blog which is liked and shared widely across social media channels. The blog convinces one of your prospects about your expertise and that’s how he contacts you.

Do you notice a commonality here? Through social media, you get an opportunity to facilitate or influence the decisions. That’s how you get new customers. Don’t compare it with phone calls based or email-based push mechanism.

  1. Should I spend on ads?

The first question you need to really ask yourself is what do you want to achieve through ads? Ads are available on different platforms such as Facebook, Google or LinkedIn. Based on your objectives and goals, you can choose the right platform and decide on the budget. For quicker conversions, ads are great. Ads also work best for specific things like events, whitepapers or specific time-bound offers.

  1. How important is the personal brand of founders?

Based on my personal experience, I can confidently say that till your startup brand becomes bigger, the brand of the founder is very important – especially for services startups. The value of services is seen only after it is consumed. So to create the comfort level in the minds of the customers, it is important for them to know who are the people behind, their backgrounds, and why they should trust your company.

  1. Can it help me in hiring the best talent?

First, ask yourself this question – why would someone want to work with you? It is the cutting-edge technology, your awesome infrastructure, the people in your company, the learning environment, opportunities or innovation. Once you know that, showcase that on your social media channels. In today’s time and age, candidates make a decision about joining a company not only based on the job description but also based on the overall image of the company on social media channels. Make sure you create the right impression and hiring the best talent should not be a problem for you.

  1. How do I define the frequency of the posts or updates

Very basic but very important question. Should I post 3 tweets or 10 tweets? How many Facebook updates should go every day? How many times should I post a company page update on LinkedIn? Should I write 2 blogs a week or 1 blog a day? Well, well – again, it depends. You are on social media to engage with your customers and prospects so you will need to define the frequency and tone of your communication based on that. If your customers are based in the US, no point in tweeting 10 times during India time. You need to be aware of all such nuances. As a thumb-rule, I would say start small but be consistent. If you decide to post 3 tweets per day- do it every day! Consistency is more important.

  1. Is it okay to schedule posts?  

Why not? As a startup, it is quite natural that you are constrained on bandwidth and it is also obvious that you can’t be omnipresent. So you can certainly use tools like HootSuite or Bufferapp to schedule your posts. Just be careful that any time-sensitive posts should not appear irrelevant because of being posted at a wrong time. There have been instances when a social media intern posted a scheduled tweet about a conference happening in full swing when the conference had to be cancelled at the last moment. Make sure that such things don’t happen with you. Follow sensitivity on social media.

10.In house or agency?

Nobody knows your business better than you. Do know that you need to be closely involved with the social media efforts for your startup. It is not something which you can just hand over to someone and forget about it. To make it effective, you need to be as much involved in it. If you have the bandwidth and skills to do it in-house, would recommend going with that option. But don’t call me biased if I tell the advantages of an agency such as – expert skills, experience and continuity to the efforts. Just like our body needs a specialist doctor, probably your startup also needs a specialist to take care of the crucial aspect of social media initially and once you get a hang of it, you can take it over in-house.

In case any more questions come to your mind, don’t hesitate to drop me an email.