Social for Startups, Part 2: Sparking a Conversation

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 second installment, we discuss how to continue sparking a social  conversation as you grow your brand.

So you’ve successfully identified your target social media platforms, done some research on your audience, and made your presence known.

Now what?

Once you’ve built up a fanbase, the work doesn’t stop there. You’ve got to keep them interested, and the solution is simple: it’s all about asking questions.

It is missing the mark to keep your social voice totally focused on your brand offering. While that is ultimately important, the special power of social media lies the creation of a brand personality and getting people invested in who you are.

So if you’re selling orange juice, it’s shouldn’t be orange juice 24-7. Instead, try playing off of things that are happening in current events, cultural interest, giving your opinion, or asking people to participate in surveys about. For example, you could ask, “What’s your favorite memory of drinking orange juice growing up?” Once you can touch that nerve in your consumers and get them to say, “Oh, that reminds me of that one time…” you create a positive sentiment towards the brand.

Different voices for different channels

While all social media platforms are great for engaging in conversations with consumers, different channels merit different voices. For example, I’ve always seen Twitter as more of a quick-flash news coverage, including sharing links and retweeting influencers. Compare that with Facebook, where you have one brand at the helm. Twitter allows for a back-and-forth, to speak directly to consumers in short bites; Facebook, on the other hand, allows for a longer conversation from a central party.

Brand voice to establish trust and values

GEICO is a good example of innovative brand voice use. While they have a very dry offering, they have created a quirky personality around it. The GEICO Gecko, while he’s quirky and funny, is also trusted and smart. It is important to stay true to that brand personality, across all social media, in every press release, in every piece of pitching.

So even if the GEICO Gecko is saying, “I love yoga,” and they want to talk a little about something unrelated like yoga, it’s still coming from that same voice. That association of that distinctive tone brings you back to the trusted brand.

A useful exercise is to flesh out this brand personality. Draft out who this personality is: what do they like to eat? What type of activities do they like? It’s a bit of a quirky exercise, but it helps you build an image and tone. Even though your consumers may never see a physical mascot, they will feel your values and personality through your social media interactions.

Molly Mandell
Managing Director


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