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.