Every successful new business goes through a growth period, and it’s often rough. In the early days, you watch your site stats or wait for the door chimes to ring, hoping that someone will come by. For a cash-strapped startup, social media can seem like a lifesaver but its important to use it wisely otherwise you may find yourself with a great new Twitter habit, a thousand followers and no customers.
Is Your Product Ready for Marketing?
There’s a grace period just before you launch a new product, website or business where people are interested to get the news ahead of the crowd, but the launch isn’t so far off that they’ll have forgotten by the time it happens. If you have a way that people can give you money or support your business in a concrete way, then start your social media campaign strong. If launch is a long way off, look for colleagues, compatriots and connections who can help you on the way rather than customers.
What Kind of Leads are you Looking For?
Marketing online using social media is tricky. Most people don’t visit Facebook or Twitter to shop, so advertising and product placements can feel intrusive. Knowing what demographic you’re targeting and what you’d like viewers to do (buy something now? call you? download an app?) will help you select the right platform and send the right message.
How Much Time can you Afford to Spend Per Lead?
As part of your business planning, you should know how many sales you need to make per day to turn your startup into a sustainable business. Your online marketing strategy should reflect that: if you need to make hundreds of sales of a 99p iPhone app each week to pay the mortgage, you’ll need to broadcast your message. On the other hand, if you aim to complete one high-value project per quarter, your social media work can be much more detailed, focussing on building up a few strong relationships.
Do you have an Advertising Budget?
It’s a popular misconception that, in the age of social media, all advertising is free. While many businesses have had enormous successes using free platforms in their online marketing campaigns, for the majority of enterprises adding paid advertisements into the mix gives a real boost. Paid advertising can also be used to better understand your demographic. Ads on sites like Facebook can be very carefully targeted and also let you experiment, helping you understand the type of person to target with your social media campaign.
Provide Valuable Content
We’ve left it until last, but it’s the single most important thing you can do. Whether you’re blogging, tweeting or sharing a status, it should give your followers value. That could be a how to (like this!); a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of your business; a special offer or discount; industry information; a review of your product or a demo; or even a joke. Just make sure it’s worthwhile.