It’s crazy starting up, isn’t it? There are a number of things that require your attention and almost all of them at the same time. Bogs you down completely, making you go helter-skelter looking for resources to help you in your tasks.
Marty Note 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 entreprenuers. 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, tatics, 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. Pontification 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).
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.
Richard Branson has seen a lot of pitches. In his new book, he boils down the perfect pitch into 5 important elements
What’s in it for them?
“Winning the trust of an investor means demonstrating a thorough knowledge of your concept or industry and laying out a step-by-step plan for offering something that’s new, innovative and will deliver healthy returns on their investment.”
Be unapologetically disruptive.
“Emphatically explain how your new company will give your customers a better deal than your competitors.”
Prove that growth is sustainable.
“Nothing stays the same for long, so explain how you plan to tackle the inevitable technological changes and market shifts that are heading your way.”
Demonstrate bench strength.
“Show prospective investors that you have found the right people to work at your new company.”
I’ve seen investor pitches where CEO’s or founders feel as though they have to carry the show. The best and easiest way to show investors that your company has bench strength is to share the stage. Apple executives—Tim Cook and Steve Jobs—have always done this brilliantly.
3 most important metrics in the value chain for startups: -Rate of acquisition -Rate of retention -Rate of monetization
A break in the chain of anyone of these will screw-up the business. e.g. it’s no good acquiring and monetization loads of users unless you can retain them; if you’re a low priced consumer app, it’s no good monetization and retaining 100% of your users if you are not acquiring enough in the first place.
Rewriting the three metrics in lay terms, a bad business would be: -No one knows about you -The leaky bucket -Free-loaders rule
Partner at Google Ventures.Founder at Digg, Revision3, Milk. • Kevin Rose’s blog...
For some reason I’m using Facebook less and less*. I think it’s because my social graph is out of date. The people I friended three years ago in passing I hardly know and un-friending is hard and socially awkward.
I thought I’d never create another social graph, but now w/ Instagram and Path I find that creating new graphs every few years is a must.
No one has yet created a dynamic social graph. Facebook and other social graphs represent a rolling timeline of relationships that are out of date the instant they are created
Games. A software industry in itself, the app versions are attracting non-consumers and eventually will get good enough to absorb all usage and profits. Games merged with “entertainment” concepts will lead to new models of user recreation leading to new global brands that could challenge even Disney.
TV. As apps come to the big screen
Shopping/dining/entertainment/hospitality are changing with location services and with novel “bits to bricks” purchase options (e.g. PassBook). Increasingly services will exploit handheld devices to enable product discovery–the main job retailers are tasked with.
Communications. The observation that “phone” is just an app and that messaging can be done in dozens of ways depending on message, relationship, context or even custom is possible because apps conform to the user’s needs rather than the user conforming to the tools they get from the network service provider.
“There are now more town cars in San Francisco dedicated to Uber now, than there were town cars total when we started.
A lot can happen in two years
Picking good names
“This shirt is my motto.” [Ben's shirt said: "No Bitch Ass Ness"]
The two things that matter
“Building a product that improves how some large group of people does something important by 10x - products matter.” “Taking the market – there’s no crying in baseball, and no profit for number 2 in technology markets”
Gotta be one of the winners
Technology companies follow an extreme power law curve. Of all tech companies started in the US in any one year, around 15 ever generate $100M in annual revenue Those 15 companies are ultimately be responsible for 97% of the market cap for all companies started that year. 15 companies! That’s way harder than making the NBA in any given year – most of you would never attempt such a diffic
Last night I had the opportunity to listen to Paul Singh present the 500 Startups thesis at the ATDC.
He did a great job outlining how things have changed in the tech startup world over the past 10...
One of my favorite slides was the 500 startups checklist for investing:
-Product solves a problem for a specific target customer -Capital-efficient businesses – operational @ <$1M funding -Primarily internet-based distribution – search, social, mobile, location -Simple revenue models – transactions, subscriptions, or affiliate -Functional prototype before investment (or previous success) -Small but measurable usage – some customers, early revenue -Small but cross-functional team – engineer, design/UX, marketing
Female founders and women entrepreneurs starting up...
“What should our business model be?”
Here are a few things to keep in mind when coming up with that very first iteration of a business model:
--Who is your customer?
Start with this. You can’t have a business without customers. In 54 hours, you won’t have time to diagram out a lot of personas or do extensive market research, but you should have some idea of who your customers will be. If your idea scratches your own itch, you can start by thinking about you. User demographics will influence every other aspect of your business plan, from what you can reasonably charge to how you will approach marketing. Knowing your customer is also important for thinking about market size; if you’re targeting a niche group, your potential pool may be quite small.
Sometimes there is a difference between the customer and the user. A number of the companies at Women 2.0 Startup Weekend were considering business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) plays, where the startup sells to a company who then markets the product to its customers. The company is often the paying customer, so the product and price point have to meet its needs. The end ‘C’, however, is the person who will ultimately use the product, so you should be thinking about the needs of both parties.
--Why would that customer want to use your product?
This is your value proposition. What is it you offer that your theoretical user wants to have? You don’t need a completely unique idea — Google wasn’t the first search engine — but saying “We’re going to do X better” isn’t specific enough. There’s friction in change. Think about why a customer would want to use your product instead of the one they’re already familiar with. You won’t have a whole lot of time to do extensive research during those 54 hours, but it helps to look at existing competition and see which companies in the space have succeeded and which have failed.
--How will you acquire customers?
This is often the hardest part of starting a business. ”It’ll go viral” or “We’ll make the product post to Facebook so people hear about it” are rarely viable strategies. You’ll more likely be relying on direct outreach, marketing, distribution partnerships, etc. There is a lot of great material out there for how to think about customer acquisition channels and costs. For a good place to start, read these.
--How will you generate revenue? This is another tough question — especially when you have less than 54 hours to think something up — but you have to start somewhere. Saying that you’re going to sell a single app for $2.99 isn’t particularly compelling… it can be a great lifestyle business, but you might want to try thinking bigger.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but here are a few common revenue models to consider: Advertising Affiliate Subscription Freemium SaaS (software as a service) In-app purchases eCommerce/Marketplace
Think about the one that fits your idea the best, and build from there. To delve deeper into each of these, check out Quora.