Social for Startups, Part 1: Establishing a Presence

SHIFT Communications PR imageIn this three-part series of posts, Molly Mandell, the Managing Director of SHIFT’s New York City office, takes us through some tips and tricks of establishing a social media presence for startups. In this first installment, we discuss top considerations for choosing an appropriate social platforms and building a presence from scratch.

When a startup launches their brand, they are faced with an incredible challenge: how do you establish a voice and influence when you don’t have anything to work with?

First off, it is really important that a startup includes social media presence in every single piece of collateral being released to the public – not just press releases, but everything from earned media to advertising. It all needs to lead back to their social media channels, effectively driving attention to a future hub of consumer engagement.

So how do you drive that attention with limited resources? Some big things to keep in mind: which social platform(s) you’re using, who is using those platforms, and what is most appropriate to post there.

Which social platforms should we use, and who is active on there?

It is a very common mistake to see brands spreading themselves too thin; just because a new social media platform launches doesn’t mean a brand needs to be on it. By doing research beforehand and developing a proper strategy, a nascent company can easily pin down the channels that make the most sense to build their voice.

For example, as SHIFT was doing research into entertainment systems, we found that there are many social networks where women talk about designing their homes, Pinterest being one of them. They piece together boards for their living rooms, bathrooms, etc. Such a niche audience was a prime opportunity for the entertainment systems company to step in, putting a twist on the “usual” target demographics, and tailoring their social media to spark conversation.

This not only applies to the demographic audiences of those specific networks, but also what kind of content a brand hopes to share. For example, if you’re a company that doesn’t have many interesting photos, Pinterest or Instagram would not be for you. Instead, Facebook or Twitter would be better universal alternatives.

What should we be posting?

That said, many brands tend to forget the spectrum of content other than text, including both photos and videos. These are what people’s eyes are drawn to; it is not always about a verbal conversation. As more and more social media platforms emerge, they are also becoming more specialized (such as Vine for video). There are always fun, creative things you could do with any product on any social platform, but keep in mind: who are the people on these platforms? Are they the ones you want to be speaking to when you have such specific content? What is the most effective way to do it, be it text or graphics or video?

How does this all tie into growing a brand?

Social media is great from a brand perspective in that you can actually have an ongoing conversation with a consumer. It’s no longer just about old-school advertising or PR where you’re talking at your consumer and there’s nothing back. Now you have this group that’s connected; they’re willing to talk to you, and if you engage them in the right way, they’re going to give you valuable feedback and continue to build your community.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second installment in our series, focusing on further sparking engagement and involvement once these social media channels have been created.

Molly Mandell
Managing Director


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