12 Ways to Improve Your Startup's Social Media Marketing

12 Ways to Improve Your Startup's Social Media Marketing
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The Dutch airline, KLM has developed a social media strategy revered by marketers. The brand uses Twitter, Facebook and Instagram masterfully to provide outstanding customer service and to advance the organization’s brand narrative. As a result of this strategy, KLM makes roughly €25 million annually from social media.

Similarly, after IBM re-tooled their social media marketing strategy to focus on increasing engagement on LinkedIn, the company saw a 4X increase in sales.

“From our work in the experience economy, we’ve found that an effective social media strategy is an incredibly powerful tool to create a multiplier effect on experiential marketing,” says Daniel Yaffe, co-founder of experience relationship management platform AnyRoad. “It opens connections between the online and offline worlds and helps create brand ambassadors.”

Here are 12 ways social media marketers can revamp their social strategy to increase the success of their startup.

1. Create customer personas based on interviews.

When you think “batteries” what’s the first brand the pops into your head? What about when you think about “body spray?”

Chances are it took you less than one recall brands associated with batteries or body spray. This is thanks to the remarkable work done by marketers at CPGs (companies that sell consumer packaged goods).

Organizations like P&G (the makers of Duracell batteries) and Unilever (the makers of Axe body spray) lean heavily on marketing teams to create differentiation for otherwise ordinary products.

Marketers develop meaningful campaigns by always thinking about the customer first. Marketing personas allow the world’s best marketers to do just that.

P&G and Unilever invest millions of dollars each year in getting to know their customers. Marketers conduct focus groups, surveys and one-on-one interviews to learn what the customer wants. Then they develop marketing campaigns that make a difference.

Social media marketers should learn from the best marketing organizations by developing clear customer personas through interviews. Talk to current and prospective customers to learn about their needs and desires, then create social media campaigns that are aligned with what customers really want.

2. Use a social media analytics platform.

It’s difficult to know whether or not your social media strategy is working if you don’t have analytics to provide detailed information.

For example, if your social strategy is focused on Instagram, you should invest in a tool like Owlmetrics to understand follower engagement, growth, and click through rate. This sort of data can help marketers understand if the strategy is producing meaningful results that impact key metrics like revenue or brand awareness.

3. Start asking “the five whys.”

When something goes wrong in a Toyota manufacturing plant, company managers ask “the five whys.” It’s a way of systematically getting to the bottom of underlying problems that manifest in various mistakes. If your social media strategy isn’t working as expected, ask the five whys to uncover root causes.

4. Develop an influencer marketing strategy.

Over 95 percent of marketers who use some sort of influencer marketing strategy believe it is effective. Most marketers don’t unanimously agree on much, which speaks to the effectiveness of influencer marketing.

Brands like Harley Davidson, KitchenAid, and the North Face use influencer marketing to gain access to skeptical audiences who have become weary of traditional marketing and advertising techniques.

5. Test the effectiveness of each platform in your marketing mix.

Simply because a social media platform is popular among some audiences, doesn’t mean it will work for your brand. Test the effectiveness of each social media platform in your marketing mix. Use an all-in-one social media analytics tool to compare performance across platforms.

It may also be the case that some platforms are better at producing one type of result, while other platforms are more effective at producing another type of result. For example, Instagram might be great at generating brand awareness, whereas Facebook may be better suited for generating purchases.

6. Align on the goals of social media marketing.

Ensure that key players within your organization are aligned on the goals of social media marketing. Failing to align will make it difficult for you and your team to live up to expectations if different managers expect different outcomes.

Consider creating a document that summarizes the goals of your company’s social media strategy and distribute it to senior leaders, in order to create alignment.

7. Attend a social media conference to learn new trends.

The social media landscape is constantly change. One year Snapchat is the darling of social media marketers, and the next year its future is being questioned left and right.

One year video loops are the ideal medium for social content, and the next live video is where it’s at.

A good way to stay on top of social media trends is by attending a social media conference to learn from influencers and to network with peers. Events like Social Media Marketing World provide attendees with unprecedented information about social media best practices.

8. Treat social media followers like NPR treats listeners.

Full credit Guy Kawasaki on this piece of advice. He suggested that social media marketers develop a strategy similar to NPR.

Most of the time NPR provides value to listeners in the form of well-researched news and cultural commentary. Every now and then, NPR will ask listeners to reciprocate by making a small donation to keep NPR on the air.

Similarly, brands should usually provide value to followers while asking nothing in return. Once and a while, brands should then ask followers to return the favor by making a purchase or by taking a bottom of the funnel action.

9. Have a clear opinion about topics that matter to your audience.

There are over 800 million social media users on Instagram alone, in total there are over 2 billion people on social media. As a result, networks have become a crowded place. It’s difficult for brands to cut through the noise.

In order to differentiate your social media profiles from others, be sure to develop a clear perspective on the world and make sure that this perspective comes through in the content you share.

Brands like Slack, Nike, and Rolls-Royce have found social media success by sharing content that has a clear and confident style and perspective.

10. Try a social media profile take over.

An inexpensive way to gain access to new audiences is to do an account takeover. Here, two brands simply swap accounts for a short period of time, and announce to followers that the swap is happening. This simple social media hack can help startups to access audiences in a fast and cost-effective manner.

11. Measure success with a multi-touch attribution model.

Channels that are ROI positive are much more likely to find long-term support from company leadership than channels that are a cost-center. But it can be difficult for social media marketers to prove ROI if the attribution model is too narrow.

Using a multi-touch attribution model, social media marketers can show the impact social media has on acquiring new leads, and in nurturing existing leads down the marketing funnel. Tools like Bizible and BrightFunnel can help social media marketers to estimate the revenue generated through each marketing touch, rather than relying on first-touch models which tend to overlook the impact of social media.

12. Stake a claim on new social media platforms.

Sometimes having the right handle can make it considerably easier to grow a large and engaged social media following. Be sure to set up social media accounts on fledgling networks in order to reserve your branded handle.


Social media marketing has helped a countless number of brands to increase brand awareness, and to acquire new customers. Your startup can make the most of social media by focusing on creating a clear and unique voice that appeals to your target audience.

Be sure to invest in an analytics platform to measure performance, and to test a variety of social networks to determine which ones work best to drive KPIs.

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