The good news is that with good practices and a consistent content strategy, your startup can be a clear voice above the noise on social media without significant monetary investments. A decent budget can go a long way, but you can always start by bootstrapping this process before you have the means to invest more.
Step 1: Know your product
Understanding your product well and how it benefits your consumers is a good way to start. Put some thoughts into your marketing messages. Think in the shoes of a consumer: Are you offering practical value to the consumer? Are you making an emotional connection with them? Are you making them an offer they could not refuse?
If your ideas do not appeal to you, it probably will not appeal to anyone. If you think you have founders’ bias, bounce your marketing messages off your family, friends or coworkers and ask for honest feedback.
Step 2: Know your audience
If you are unsure about the target audience for your product, do not consider your first Facebook campaign, especially if you are intending to invest some cash in it. Even if you know your target audience, you might want to spend some time thinking about these few questions because this data will help you reach out to your target audience with laser precision.
Who is your “typical” customer?
What are some of their common behaviour on social media?
What are their “social stimuli”?
Step 3: Know where they hang out
This one is a no-brainer: If you want to catch monkeys, you shouldn’t look underwater. There are over a dozen social media networks in the market and each channel appeals to a certain demographic. If you know your customer profile, you should have no problem determining where they lurk online. Focus your efforts targeting only the relevant channels where your customers spend the most time on. If you’re running a B2B business, running a Facebook campaign might not be your best bet.
Step 4: Develop your content
A content strategy is what will keep your followers engaged. As you craft your content strategy, first ask this question: Why should my readers care about my content? Am I providing value? Am I giving a feel-good factor to my followers?
Next, determine your content mix by planning the relevant content types that you should employ for your product. If you are reaching out through visual-based social media channels like Pinterest or Instagram, you should consider infographics and photo reviews. For more generic social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, you can have a broader mix of content materials like videos, podcasts and articles.
Lastly, determine your brand voice. This is social media after all, you should make your customers and followers feel like they are reading something written by a human being. Have some fun with your page. That being said, learn to draw the line to keep things from being too personal. Be personable, not personal.
Step 5: Quantify and measure
This is by far the most important thing you should do if you are engaging in social media marketing. Most people miss this step and lose out on the opportunities to grow and engage more prospective clients. With so many numbers showing on Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics pages, which should you focus on?
For starters, create a spreadsheet to record your data across time, preferably on a weekly basis. Focus on engagements (likes, comments and shares) and clicks. Facebook page likes will come eventually if you focus on creating good content for your followers. As you experiment with your content mix, annotate every change on your spreadsheet to measure the growth contributed to each experiment. Give every experiment sufficient time to show its effectiveness – do not expect your first video to randomly shoot itself to virality. Over time, you will have a valuable spreadsheet with your best content ideas.
Things change really quickly on social media. Trends come and go, content consumption habits evolve and distribution algorithms change without notice. Building an advocacy community for your product is like building sandcastles by the seashore. The waves are always coming to hit your sandcastles. What you need to do is to be consistent in creating good content and engage your users. Keep building sandcastles, and build them well!