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The internet has accelerated word of mouth marketing with the help of social media. But with so many people and so many companies promoting themselves on a growing number of channels, it only gets harder and harder to cut through the noise and be heard.

And that’s why we here at the Founder Institute have created a guide that will provide you with everything you need to craft your social media strategy. Packed with all of the most important details for the most popular social media channels, this blog post will set you on the path to make your startup stand out.

Preparation

Approach

Prior to developing a social media strategy, you must have a clear vision for how you want your brand to be portrayed. Brand with your company culture. Is your culture relaxed or is it intense? What are the most important values to you as a founder? Answers to questions like these will help you define your approach. Your customers want consistency. Your customers will know if your business is not true to itself.  

Objectives

After you have figured out your approach, we recommend you define your social media objective. It’s likely that your startup will focus on objectives such as: customer acquisition, brand awareness, lead generation, content distribution, etc. Focus on one objective to start.

Your objectives should be influenced by your customers. As a b2b company you will have different objectives than a gaming company.

Platforms

Based on your approach and objectives you should determine which social media platforms you should focus on. You can not be great at all of the platforms because you don’t have the resources. You should strive to be great at one platform in the beginning. Here’s a brief overview of the most significant social media platforms to date:

Facebook

Primary Purpose: Builds brand loyalty and reputation.  

Average Age Range: 25-45 years old - 60% Female / 40% Male

How often to Post: 1-2 times per day

Description: Facebook is a long term commitment. You are building relationships with a very casual audience. You’ll want to portray your business in a friendly and sociable manner. Here is some good step by step advice for you to build your brand on Facebook. Also consider creating a Facebook group.

Best for: Because Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform, just about every kind of company can benefit from it. And because it’s also the most credible, companies without a Facebook page can appear suspicious to customers.

Example post:

Twitter

Primary Purpose: Share breaking news, promote content, get feedback from your audience  

Average Age Range: 18-29 years old - 50% Female / 50% Male

How often to Post: 3-4 times per day

Description: Twitter is optimized for people looking for quick information or news. It’s ideal for creating a dialogue with customers. It’s the best platform for PR. Here’s a good article on Twitter marketing.

Best for: Twitter is ideal for B2C companies, as it’s optimized for content distribution and one-on-one customer engagement. Also, research has shown that 68 percent of Twitter users are more likely to make a purchase from the brands they follow.

Example Post:

Pinterest

Primary Purpose: Showcases products  

Average Age Range: 18-35 years old - 80% Female / 20% Male

How often to Post: 2-3 times per day

Description: Pinterest generates leads and drives traffic to websites by visually promoting products. Because of its well defined categories, users can search products efficiently. Here are some tips on how to use Pinterest boards effectively.

Best for: If your company offers a physical product, Pinterest is the platform for you as it allows you to showcase your product line while simultaneously building your niche community.

Instagram

Primary Purpose: Share images and videos

Average Age Range: 18-29 years old - 55% Female / 45% Male

How often to Post: 1.5+ times per day

Description: Instagram is a mobile social network that's great for engagement. Instagram posts generate 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook. Here’s a good article on how to create an Instagram marketing strategy.

Best for: Instagram is perfect for companies that offer a physical product, especially if their products are clothing or wearable tech. In addition, it’s great to tell visual stories.

Example Post:

"Think about a cup of coffee for a moment. I went shoe shopping, tried on ten pairs of shoes and couldn’t find anything that fit and I was frustrated. So I thought, 'Okay I’m going to have a rest and go have a cup of coffee at Starbucks'. At the Starbucks you can customize your drink every time. I ordered a double mocha, extra soy, extra hot, and I looked it up. I was like hold on a sec, there’s these three little machines and you can get all these combinations. There’s eighty-seven thousand combinations of coffee from just those two or three little machines in Starbucks and yet I was at a big shoe store and they really only had maybe a thousand pairs of shoes to choose from. So that was when I went 'Ah-huh', the world can change" - Lucy Beard, CEO & Founder of Feetz After this realization, Beard went on to create a company that provides custom fit 3d printed shoes for its consumers. ‪#‎humansofstartups‬

A photo posted by Founder Institute (@founding) onApr 22, 2016 at 10:10am PDT

Snapchat

Primary Purpose: Share 10 second videos that disappear in 24 hours. Communicate with your customers. Build creative marketing campaigns.

Average Age Range: 14-30 years old - 55% Female / 45% Male

How often to Post: 2+ times per day

Description: Snapchat is where millennials hang out. The audience is extremely engaged. Spontaneity is very important on Snapchat because it’s used to capture a moment in time. Here’s more info about marketing on Snapchat.

Best for: B2C companies will benefit the most from Snapchat, especially if their offering is aimed at younger customers. In fact, studies have shown that 58 percent of college students are likely to purchase a brand's product or service if they received a coupon on Snapchat.

Medium

Primary Purpose: A blogging platform. Users go here to read engaging long form content.

Average Age Range: 18-29 years old - 55% Female / 45% Male

How often to Post: 1 time per week

Description: Medium is optimal for establishing yourself as thought leader in your industry. Many startups also use Medium to host their company blog. Here’s a complete guide for how to use Medium.

Best for: Nearly every kind of company can benefit from a presence on Medium. However, because many writers post personal stories and advice, this channel is especially useful for companies looking to connect with users on a deeper level.

Example Post:

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Regardless of how good your product, service, or app is, it's only useful when you can get it into the hands of your target customers. But once you've got a finalized offering, selling it should be easy, right? Not really.

Reddit

Primary Purpose: Share and comment on interesting news and cool links  

Average Age Range: 25-45 years old - 25% Female / 75% Male

How often to Post: 2-3 times/month

Description: Most redditors have a college degree and the overwhelming majority of users lives in the United States. Redditors spend a lot of time on site and are always looking for something to click on. There is a subreddit for virtually everything you can think of (from startups to dogs). We recommend you post as yourself instead of as your business name. Redditors are very sensitive to spam. Here’s a good marketing guide for Reddit.

Best for: Because users of Reddit are attracted to all things funny, interesting, cute and courageous, it’s not exactly optimized for the average tech company. However, if your company caters to a geekier and quirkier audience, Reddit is certainly worth a try.

YouTube

Primary Purpose: Share and create videos

Average Age Range: 18-35 years old - 50% Female / 50% Male

How often to Post: Depends how long it takes for you to create a quality video

Description: Consistency is key on YouTube. To develop an audience you should upload videos on a set schedule. The effort is greater than other sites. However for certain startups it is a great place to find users. Take a look at this guide for how to market your business on YouTube.

Best for: Companies whose sole mission is brand awareness will benefit the most from YouTube as it allows them to cross-market their brands by sharing content on other platforms create engaging videos for millions of faithful viewers.

Example Post:

LinkedIn

Primary Purpose: Business social network

Average Age Range: 30-65 years old - 35% Female / 65% Male

How often to Post: 1 time per day

Description: Because LinkedIn is a business social network that’s similar to Facebook but with a more professional interface. Here are some great strategies for using LinkedIn for b2b marketing.

Best for: Linkedin is perfect for B2B companies, especially if they’re looking for potential partners, and facilitates global networking.

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Tumblr

Primary Purpose: blogging platform

Average Age Range: 16-24 years old - 50% Female / 50% Male

How often to Post: 2 times/week

Description: Tumblr is a blogging platform for millennials. Unlike Medium, visuals are key on Tumblr. As of 2016 there are 420 million users on the platform. Here is a good marketing guide for Tumblr.

Best for: Tumblr consists of more than 200 million blogs, and the majority of these blogs are run by young people under age the age of 25. If you have a product or service that’s aimed at this audience, Tumblr will benefit your company.

Goals

It’s just as important to set goals for your social media strategy as it is for other areas in your business. Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (S.M.A.R.T.).

Specific

If your goal is to vague, you’ll never know what you’re working on. Your goals should not be open to interpretation.

Examples:

  • Not Specific: I will use Facebook to increase my startup’s brand awareness.
  • Specific: I will post pictures from every Founder Institute event to our facebook page to increase our brand’s awareness.

Measurable

It’s impossible to know if you’re successful without data that backs up this claim.  

Examples:

  • Not Measurable: I will increase our audience on Twitter
  • Measurable: We will increase our Twitter followers by 10% week over week

Attainable

You need to be realistic with your goals. If you have 100 followers on Instagram, it’s unrealistic to get 200 likes.

Examples:

  • Not Attainable: Triple our number of Twitter followers every week
  • Attainable: Increase our Twitter followers by 20 every week for the next 6 months

Relevant

Your goals must be relevant to your startup’s success.

Examples:

  • Not Relevant: Use Snapchat to promote my enterprise software product.
  • Relevant: I will use Snapchat to create daily unscripted snaps of random people playing games with our new VR headset.

Timely

You must have deadlines, otherwise you will not execute your goals on time.

Examples:

  • Not Timely: We’re going to get 100 upvotes on our Reddit post
  • Timely: We’re going to get 100 upvotes on our Reddit thread by 8:00pm today.

Execution

Tools

To get the most out of your social media presence, you’ll need a variety of tools. Michael Jenkins of jeffbullas.com has listed some of the best and current tools in the article, “The 17 Best Social Media Management Tools”, many of which are free or very cheap. Below are some tools to get you started:

  • EveryPost enables you to curate your company’s visual content, schedule customized posts, and share content to all major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

  • Bit.ly lets you shorten your url and tracks clicks to help you monitor how well your content is converting traffic to your website.

  • Hootsuite is a social media management tool that lets you schedule and analyze your social media marketing campaigns.

  • Crowd Booster optimizes your social media marketing decisions by automatically sending you analytics on a regular basis.

Key Takeaways

The implementation of a social media campaign is a process more than just a few events. It is an investment. If you are developing a social media strategy with communities in mind, you will have to use an approach that rewards patience and persistence. Here are some concepts to consider:

Phases

We recommend that you build your campaigns in phases. Start with one channel. Consistently develop fresh content. Monitor it and make adjustments.  

Basics

Social media has some routines that can’t be avoided. Your strategy will always involve adding value to others. This is foundational to social interactions - online or offline.

Methods

After you’ve been persistent at implementing the basics, it’s likely that you will have developed methods for engagement in phases. Now it’s time to be vigilant about measuring the effectiveness of your methods.

Final Thoughts

Like all processes that go into building a startup, crafting a social media strategy will require considerable trial and error. What works on one social channel may not work on another, and vice versa. However, it's important to track your progress and to always try new tricks. Because, who knows? Your very next social post may be the next big viral hit.

If you need help launching a startup that stands out from the rest, the Founder Institute is looking for entrepreneurs just like you. Click here to find a program near you.

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