A Social Media Strategy Guide for Startups

Eleven steps to creating a successful social media plan for your startup.  

You’ve just decided your name. Congrats! You made it. You have a logo and most likely have a website at this point as well. You’re gaining traction in the customer discovery process and are well on your way to jumping on the phones to get in front of those future customers. So what’s next? How do you know what do next in the launch process of your company?

Let’s talk social media. I’ve launched a few companies over the years and there’s never just one way to do it, but my hope with this step-by-step plan is to get you to really think through how social media can help your brand get to the ‘next level’. In the end, social media helps validate your brand as you grow into the company you want to become. I believe setting up your social presence on the right foot is of utmost importance.

1) Objectives: Be clear on your objective

What role does social media play in your overall marketing strategy? It’s important to define why your company is doing social media. A few examples would include:

  • Drive traffic to your website

  • Sell a product/advertise a service

  • Generate more sales and leads

  • Communicate with customers

  • Increase brand awareness

  • Run an awareness campaign

  • Establish online authority

2) Audience: Describe your target audience

Who are you talking to and what can you offer them (brand, discounts, tips, etc.)? Understanding your audience is necessary to learn things like who will buy your product, who is the decision maker, who has buying power? Then, defining how they act online will help you to know how best to reach them on each platform.

3) Competition: What are your competitors doing?

Research what others in your market are doing in their social landscape. Because you are early in the game, competition is not a big threat at this point, but knowing the space it critical. An easy way to find competitors is through a simple Google search. Enter your most valuable keywords, phrases, and industry terms to see who shows up!

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4) Platforms: Identify which social media platforms will help you reach your target audience

Research which platforms your target customer engages most on. Do they spend most of their time on Twitter? Do they not use social media at all? The 15 top platforms with the most active monthly users include: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Qzone, Weibo, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Ask.fm, Tumblr, Flickr, Google+, LinkedIn, VK, Odnoklassniki, Meetup. Knowing what platform your audiences is using will help inform the strategy you create for your full social engagement plan.

5) Strategy: Develop a platform strategy

After you’ve decided which social platforms you want to engage your customers on, you’ll want to develop a simple and easy strategy to start. Don’t get too bogged down on the details, this will help to guide your content development. Good questions to answer include:

  • How will you post? (natively or with a tool)

  • Who’s responsible for posting? (Are you a solo founder v. bringing on social media interns v. a Marketing Leader)

  • When will you post, including frequency and time of day?

  • What will you post on each platform? (Ads v. brand content v. other content)

6) Metrics: Develop clear, measurable targets, and KPIs to ensure your strategy is working

Always start with a SMART goal. No matter what you want to track, make sure you’re very clear. Take a look at 10 examples here.

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7) Voice and Tone: Establish your social media brand voice and tone

When it comes to creating a cohesive brand, a great starting point is to focus on four areas: character/persona, tone, language, and purpose. See Buffer’s Guide to tone as an example. Because they spent time outlining what they will say and how they will say it, the entire company is able to reference it. If you establish your brand voice early on, as you scale, you’ll have an easier time with content creation and keeping true to your brand.  

8) Design: Make your platforms presentable and consistent

Start with the profile pictures, then the cover photos, then the titles and descriptions. Ensure each platform you decide to use has a consistent look and feel. You can check out the “Add Graphics” section on writkit.com if you’re looking for some helpful suggestions on design tools. When it comes to individual posts, feel free to get creative and not just rely on typical stock photos.

9) Connections: Find and engage with influencers

Who in your network would you say is your “biggest fan”? Make sure they like/follow all the things you create. Early on, it’s very helpful to have people who are in your corner. Social media is just that… social! Empower your influencers to connect on your social channels and share on your behalf. The ripple effect with take place and your influence will expand.

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10) Content: Develop a quality content strategy that connects with your audience

When it comes to the actual “stuff” you’re putting on every platform, not only is it important to choose when and how you are sharing it, but you’ll want to define what the right content is. Strive for quality always—remember quality over quantity. I like to take the ‘pillar content’ approach. For example, write an eBook and use that for 5 blog posts, which then supplies 30-40 social posts, a few videos, and a few infographics. One big piece of content turns into multiple outputs on multiple channels, all relevant and still quality. Have you also considered video? It can be a very impactful medium. Get some tips here on incorporating video into your social media strategy.  

A few things to note when it comes to content creation:

  1. Only about 20% of the content you produce should to be about you or your business.  

  2. 20% of your time should be spent on content creation, while 80% should be spent on content distribution.   

When creating content, keep in mind the basic principles of design, and don’t forget to include some emojis to add variety (if it’s on brand😉.) When it comes to scheduling, you can use an excel template or a even an Airtable template to help keep you organized. Either way, be consistent. Here’s a simple schedule example to start:

  • Facebook: Once per day

  • Twitter: Three times per day. (If you have the resources, you can increase to 5+ tweets everyday)

  • Instagram: Once per day

  • LinkedIn: Once per weekday

11) Iterate: Test, measure, reflect, refine, report --- Iterate, iterate, iterate!

Always be asking, “What’s working, and what’s not?” Remember when you created your SMART goals in step 6? Go back to those and always be updating and evaluating and adjusting.

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Keep in mind, there are no guarantees when it comes to social media, but if you plan ahead, set a straight forward plan, and follow these eleven steps, you’ll launch your startup with confidence and build a solid brand. Remember your brand matters, and having a supporting social media behind your brand will only propel it forward.