I'd love it if more startup founders would see social media as a platform to launch a campaign on; more than just a series of tactics to be executed on, an opportunity for communications with vision. A campaign that supports their business goals and creates growth. Sadly, startups often use social media to execute on a series of tactics like another item ticked off the to-do checklist, and just ends up adding to the noise.
There are reasons for having a social presence and that shapes a strategy. It helps to look at the reasons, the strategies, the tactics, platforms and tools all as pieces of a chain. I like to focus on the strategy with creative outcomes and help startups define their goals because generally, startup founders know what their business goals are and are great with tactics and tools so I fit in the communications slot in the middle of the chain to make it all work together. It's in that middle part that I develop strategies I can execute on in social media to connect the business goals with results. To borrow from the military roots of strategic planning, strategy is the battle plan and the creative execution is the battlefield.
No two startups are the same so for any of them to do the same thing is a bit like running the same ad campaign with a different logo. Each needs their own strategy to achieve their goals – actual business goals, rather than tactical goals like gaining 'x 'amount of followers over 'y' amount of time or 'x' amount of clicks, shares or signups; tactical goals which can't be set without business goals. Business goals are what investors, funders and partners buy into: the practical solutions startups are developing which answer existing problems.
Social strategies for startups with clear business goals can result in social presence that's engaging, relevant and sets them apart from others. Some great examples of this have been Uber and Airbnb. Both companies have used their social presence with purpose and have built their brands on it.
Just as every startup's business strategy has to be unique, so does each social strategy to be successful – there's no template. And if a startup doesn't have any goals that pertain to audience engagement yet, they shouldn't be on social media yet. Save it til investors need to see thought leadership, news or audience engagement; save it for when you're ready to create product awareness, attract and support users and create community with partners. These are all great reasons to have social presence.
Once you know your reason for having a social presence for your startup, you're ready to develop the strategy to connect with identified audiences. That strategy will determine what you post about, the balance of original/shared/serious/light content, what platforms you're on, who you follow and support, frequency and timing. Your strategy will determine your tone and voice and give your startup a presence that stands apart from others as unique and more valuable than a mass of marketing retweets.
The social strategy then can create presence on social platforms that supports your business goals, adding social equity that builds your business. Like this timely spot, created by Rethink Canada with The Canadian Institute for Diversity and Inclusion that supports the CIDI's goal of shaping diversity for a corporate audience by using a topical issue – the Olympics and gay rights. The spot makes what they do relevant.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every brand that is making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.