I've created four companies. I know about the wild ride of creating a company . I know and have interviewed (for ScentTrial on Technorati http://technorati.com/people/ScentTrail ) hundreds of startup entrepreneurs. I've noticed one big difference between successful startups and those who end up working for someone else again:
Successful Startups are more OPEN!
Successful startups share, collaborate and engage. They harvest wisdom of crowds and use their social nets to tweak, modify and improve their business model, tactics, strategy and people. Social media can help open your startup up to success.
5 Social Media Marketing Tips For Startups
Tip 1: Facebook Is Your Exclusive Club
You might be tempted to NOT have a Facebook page. "Too early," someone might say and they would be wrong. The faster you create a viable Facebook community the more traction every other digital asset and your company gets. There are 3 Facebook Usage Rules:
1. Listen more than you talk.
2. Contribute meaningful content TO Facebook.
3. Drive links OUT to your owned properties (websites, blogs, other social).
Ask questions. Treat your Facebook page like an exclusive clubhouse. People in your club love you and want to help. Let them. BTW, play for LIKES and SHARES since they help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). LIKES and SHARES are the table stakes of social media marketing.
You will learn how to phrase and share so your stuff gets picked up, commented on and shared. Wish I could give you a magic bullet, but experience is the best teacher because YOUR voice is different than MINE :).
One last FB tip. Pictures and video RULE. The more visual you can be, and this rule applies to everything you do, the more you are likely to win.
Tip 2: Twitter Is The Radio of the Web
Twitter is where you announce stuff. Keep your "self-promotion" links to about 50%, Curate and follow others in your space. If you are creating mobile apps you might want to follow Luke Wroblewski, author of Mobile First, for example.
Be generous and people will be generous back. Be an ass and you won't last long. If you are young and arrogant try to be less so on social media (please :). Social media amplifies, so a little arrogance becomes an ego that won't fit in the room. Humble, kind and honest work well. When in doubt get someone you trust to read your stuff (btw, I do this kind of "how does it sound" review for lots of friends all the time :).
Tip 3: Blogs Are Traffic Catchers
Blog early and blog often. The more you blog the more SEO traffic you catch, the more feedback you get and the stronger all of your digital properties become. Short 200 to 500 word posts are better than long posts (says the man famous for 1,000 blog posts LOL).
Long posts are great for search engine spiders but you sacrifice engagement, so I wouldn't suggest ANY startup write long blog posts. Being long winded seems incongruous for "startup", so keep it short and post DAILY.
If blogging gets good to you and you want to post more than daily CREATE a second blog since you don't want to step on your own blog posts. Remember the Facebook visual rule and ALWAYS have at least one picture or graphic in every post.
Tip 4: YouTube Is TV
The BIG THREE social media tools for startups have to be Facebook for community, Twitter for announcement and YouTube for telling your story and engagement. If you are in the advanced social media class Scoop.it should be in your bag of tricks too, but only if you are masters of at least one other social media tool (because social media tools amplify each other and Scoop.it is a great HUB for all of your social media when you are ready).
Think of your startup as a reality TV show. There is always something on TV and you should be generating fresh content constantly and at an ever faster pace (see More and More, Faster and Faster, Better and Better : http://scenttrail.blogspot.com/2012/07/internet-markeings-secret-more-more.html ).
Create content that creates and then successfully resolves (in your favor) cliff hangers. Humanize your widget. Make people CARE. Steve Sabol, the creator of NFL Films, famously said, "Tell me a fact and I remember, tell me a truth and I believe, tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever."
At first, you won't know what story to tell and that is ok. Start telling stories, any story, and you will get in a storytelling rhythm. Watch your feedback loops. How many visits on that story? How many LIKES, SHARES, COMMENTS and RETWEETS?
When you detect patterns do more of the good patterns and less of the bad. Video is the prime medium for your storytelling because no one reads anymore AND because video is a better storytelling medium (when used by someone who knows what they are doing). You need help to create your first videos. Don't try to DIY this one.
Tip 5: People Not Things Sell
People want to buy YOU. Don't frustrate that desire; don't make your communication and website all about your widget. I got so frustrated with the typical startup "all about the widget" approach to selling I wrote People Not Things Sell (http://scenttrail.blogspot.com/2012/06/startup-websites-people-not-things-sell.html ).
Here is another important idea for startups. Social media and the web DO NOT FIX ANYTHING. The web and social media is a huge megaphone. If you don't know your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), your elevator pitch, your core values the web will not help you find them.
The web will point out inconsistency and sloppiness fast, very fast, so have your marketing act together. I just wrote about the need for self examination yesterday on another blog: http://scenttrailmarketing.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/five-types-of-courage-an-internet-marketing-fable/ )
Remember, social media is startups best friend. Have your core marketing act together and share, shar eand share more. Don't freak out. Keep calm and Retweet :). M