A psychiatrist once told me that he believes everyone should be in therapy. His reasoning was that everyone needs an outside perspective from someone with expertise in solving problems and improving peoples’ situations. The same could be said for the relationship between startups and social media agencies.
Startups come out of nowhere and have to raise awareness of and interest in revolutionary products and services, fight way above their weight class to compete with bigger and more established brands, and solve lots of marketing problems fast. Social media can be the great equalizer, but you have to take an objective view of what can be achieved, set social media marketing goals and develop a social media strategy and execution that is sustainable and effective in reaching those goals. Once you have that locked down, you can loosen up and have fun again.
1. Startups don’t always have the resources or expertise to manage their social media marketing
Given the do-it-yourself nature of the startup mind, tackling social media may seem like something easy to knock off yourself. And it is, if you’re not concerned with things like learning curve, staying on top of trends, creating content like video, photos, memes, graphics, contests, giveaways, blog posts, scoping the competition, or maintaining a consistent brand voice and execution over days, weeks and months. The social media marketing environment is constantly changing. Do you have the bandwidth to grow your startup and keep up with the details of social media marketing at the same time?
Social media marketing involves creating entertaining, informative content and sharing on social media sites along with active social media engagement and reengagement as fans respond to to the content you’re posting. You can’t just update your startup’s Facebook status and walk away. You have to get in there, be involved, give fans and potential customers a reason to pay attention and eventually spend money on your products and services.
2. Startups must align their social media marketing goals with their overall startup goals
The first thing you have to do when jumping into social media is decide what you’re trying to achieve. What are your startup’s overall goals and what part will social media marketing play in reaching those goals? One million Facebook likes or video views aren’t goals. They’re milestones on the way. Goals are end results like amount of product sold or number of subscribers earned.
Two solid social media goals for startups and brands alike are:
- Growing an active social media fan base for new product and service launches and promotions
- Increasing sales
3. Startups benefit from social media agencies’ varied experience
Good social media marketing agencies have real-world social experience across a variety of industries and fan bases. They are students of the game. They know what’s working and what’s not working because they have other clients that have been the testing grounds for your social media marketing initiative. Every day, we’re on social networks, reacting to feedback, testing and retesting, challenging the limits of technology and measuring fan reactions.
4. Social media marketing agencies are cheaper than startups think
A common belief is that social media marketing is either free or very expensive. Most social platforms are free, but the time, planning and execution to use them effectively is not. Pricing for social media should be scalable so that the budget is a direct result of the goals. When my agency Supercool Creative costs out a new relationship, we factor two main things:
- Social media goals and expectations
- Amount and type of social media (viral) content and time required to achieve those goals
This allows us to charge a small startup less than we would a large brand, assuming their expectations, including reach and frequency, will be less at the start. In other words, our per unit pricing is the same and we simply decide, along with you, the amount and type of social media you need and that initiative builds upon its own success. Every startup requires a unique approach to content. What content will best reflect your brand image and best carry your brand message? How entertainment-driven or call-to-action-driven should your content be? Understand that these two often work against each other.
The things you should pay for:
- Social media strategy, or how everything comes together
- Content development, including video, graphics, photos, memes, contests, giveaways, blog posts
- Time spent on status updates, tweets, uploads
- Time spent on active engagement, engaging and reengaging fans
- Analytics and measurement
- Paid media like video seeding, banner ads
- Social media channel design, skinning
The things you shouldn’t pay for:
- Setting up social media platform accounts like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn
- Social media marketing experience
- Staying on top of trends and technology
5. Startups need to match social media voice to their brand personality
You may understand how your startup looks, feels and acts in the real world, but how does it sound when it talks back and forth with your social media followers? Do you have someone in place to craft that voice? I wrote on this topic recently for AdAge, explaining that fans of big brands are often confused or disappointed when the social media voice of the brand doesn’t match their expectation of what the brand should act and sound like. Social media is the closest consumers will get to knowing your startup on a personal level, and we all know people buy from people – or startups – they like.
Social media marketing involves many moving parts and requires lots of attention to stay on brand, on message and ultimately build a fan base and convert that activity to sales. If you don’t have the bandwidth to tackle most of the tasks above, consider calling in a social media marketing agency.