As we covered in our previous article, “These 7 Little Changes Will Make Your Startup Succeed”, social skills are among the main things a startup founder needs for success. They amount to the power to communicate a vision, motivate employees, and persuade customers or clients. But today, social skills need to go further, and specifically extend to social media –– where the power to communicate with the masses and reach a target market can make all the difference for your growing business.
As of last year, more than 90% of companies with more than 100 employees were expected to use social media, with Statista identifying Facebook and LinkedIn as the most popular platforms. Alongside this activity, it has also become clear that consumers expect reputable businesses to have some sort of social media –– with two-thirds of consumers believing that companies that don’t have a strong social media presence will not succeed, as reported by Forbes.
So, how can you use social media to grow your startup? Here are some steps to start with.
1. Choose The Right Platform(s)
It’s fairly easy to find out who’s using social media, and how. According to Pew Research, for instance, more than 75% of people aged 18-49 and just under 75% aged 50-64 are on social, with the most popular platforms being YouTube and Facebook (used by 81% and 69% of adults, respectively, as of 2021). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should push all of your social media content toward these platforms.
Instead, conduct market research to find out who your ideal customer is and cater to that group. For instance, the same set of statistics indicates that only 40% of people use Instagram. But in the 18-29 demographic, that number jumps to 71% –– meaning that if you’re targeting younger consumers, you may want to give it more thought.
2. Engage With The Public
Once you’re on the right platforms, it’s important to actually engage with your audience. In a study conducted at Old Dominion University, participants indicated that the most important factor to them in social media marketing was customer engagement. The study recommended that “A business should focus on customer engagement and feedback to update business functions.” In other words, by engaging with the public, business owners can improve their offerings according to feedback, and ultimately drive conversions and build up better company images.
3. Create Gated Content
While it’s fine (even advisable!) to create free, public content for your potential customers, another great way to use social media to boost your list of quality leads is by creating what’s called “gated content,” or content that can only be accessed if a form is filled out (usually with the person’s name and email address, at least). Naturally, the people who go through this process tend to be those who are more interested in your content and may thus be more likely to invest in the product or service you’re offering. Just be careful not to take the idea too far.
A write-up on gated content at Indie Hackers points out that forms with three fields (say, name, birth date, email address for instance) have a 25% conversion rate; forms with six fields drop to 15%. So while there is some value to using gated content from time to time, you should never make potential customers jump through too many hoops.
4. Employ Emotion
Technical tips like using gated content from time to time can be very helpful. But it’s also crucial that you not get too technical with your social media usage, and wind up coming across as stiff or robotic. Quite the contrary, it’s recommended you harness the power of emotion to generate effective posts. In an article aimed at creators and small business owners building engagement on Instagram specifically, AskMoney puts it nicely: you want to make people feel something in the midst of their every day “doomscroll” activity.
More to the point of how you can do this, the same article recommends considering two points: what kinds of emotions you want to trigger, and what kind of content you can post to do so. If you take these considerations to heart, you’ll be able to develop emotionally engaging content that will make you both more human and more appealing to followers.
5. Try Different Formats
You should also aim to provide different types or formats of content. This means posting long-form articles, short blog posts, images, Tweets, videos, and even the occasional listicle. All of these can be effective forms of content marketing.
Additionally, as you explore different forms of content, it’s essential to employ analytics. Most social media platforms come with their own insights to some degree, though you can also use external tools like Keyhole, Sprout Social, Hootsuite, or Cyfe if you prefer.
Ultimately, you’ll want to gain a clear picture of which types of posts are driving the most engagement –– from clicks and views to full customer conversions. This will help you to hone your strategy and focus on the formats that work best for you.
All in all, using social media for growth is a process, and a sprawling one at that. Unfortunately, there is no one-trick that gets you all the followers and customers you need! But by following strategies like those listed above, you can gain a better understanding of how to use social media on behalf of your company –– and ultimately start to grow that customer base.