When should you start thinking about Social media for your business? Right at the outset!
Most founders start with an idea which they work on to get it to the point where it is ‘something’. Getting a startup off the ground can be a huge learning curve. Generally, money is tight, and founders must think carefully where to invest their money, time and effort. Initially the investment may be in the product itself. However, at some point founders need to start marketing the new business..
Where does Social Media and raising awareness of your fledgling business fit in? The importance and the use of social media will vary according to your business. A business to business startup (B2B) may have very different requirements from a business to consumer startup. Nevertheless, they will both need a web presence and a means of communicating what they do to potential customers, partners, and other businesses, people and organisations.
Initially with Company Connecting, I concentrated on the research side of things. I used my personal network and LinkedIn to get feedback on the concept. As mentioned in previous articles, I worked with Business Gateway, who connected me with Interface Online, who connected me with Strathclyde University to get the technical side of things off the ground. I focused much of my effort, on the research, the prototype, canvassing my network……………. but the one thing I didn’t do was put in place a social media strategy and implementation plan.
Company Connecting was founded on its research of IT companies. The original concept was internet dating for companies i.e. matching companies according to skills and need, and helping to raise the profiles of tech companies. However, if no one knows that Company Connecting exists, then how can they use our service? I had already recognised that many IT and telecoms companies had difficulties with raising their profiles. A website is not enough to raise awareness of your products and services. The means of marketing and publicising a business has changed considerably over the past few years, and it is not easy to understand how to best use social media.
When I started Company Connecting, I already had a great Linkedin network however I had little experience of Facebook and Twitter other than my personal profiles. I also received mixed messages / advice on the effectiveness of Twitter and Facebook for a B2B business. However, it was very clear that content and time were key for all three social networks. I learned that building up the social media channels for a business is extremely time consuming – the effort involved should not be underestimated. It also really helps to get some help and objective advice to get started.
The turning point for me with putting a social media strategy in place was a session with Stephen Whitelaw which Business Gateway provided. Our session with Stephen went on until after 18:00, by which time our brains were in overload with information on Social Media. At the end of the session, we had a clear understanding of what we needed to do, along with some excellent pointers to resources to help us manage our social media. We were immediately able to put some of the advice into practice to grow our Twitter presence and increase the content on our website. That one-day workshop was a turning point for us on social media.
Even so, Digital Marketing and Social Media cannot be learned in a day. This is clear from the 200+ companies we have on Company Connecting who are involved in digital marketing and social media (try our search). It was also clear following the workshop that we could start to implement some of the suggestions made by Stephen, but longer term we would need some help to scale up our efforts, all of which is the subject of a future article in this series.
Getting back to the original question “When should you start thinking about Social media for your business?”, the answer for me is as soon as you have the idea for your business. If I were to start another business, and believe me I always have ideas, I would start implementing a social media strategy even before developing the Minimum Viable Product. This then provides channels to create focus groups to get feedbacks, and to generate interest.
What do you think? What has been your experience with social media? Would you like to share your experience with others?
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