Social Media: How can Start-ups and Entrepreneurs Make a Kill?

Rahul Neel Mani, Co-founder & Editor, Grey Head Media Grey Head Media is a new media organization with a sharp focus on niche communities and their business interests.

There were times when social media was used/practiced to just flaunt or, at best, make ones presence felt. But that was the time when this medium was still evolving from its embryonic stage. As an entrepreneur I strongly believe those days are long over. Today, social media means creating 'impact'.The impact could be in various forms. I must clarify it in the start that my views are restricted to the professional usage of social media and will have nothing to do with individuals, who, by the way, may form a majority.

Generally, the thought behind usage of social media by start-ups and entrepreneurs, especially those who are beginning their journeys, is to amplify their voice for a variety of reasons. Some of many are listed below:

1. Grab the attention of potential investors
2. Expand the market reach to attract customers without having to spend on purpose-build, costly marketing campaigns
3. Creating awareness among the white-collar workers to attract talent
4. Attracting potential collaborators
5. Keep the brand a float - both personal and company’s

. Social media can be both an entrepreneur's /start-up's best bet and a down right waste of time. It purely depends on how you leverage it to create an impact and use it to complement the business strategy or waste it as a mere fulfillment exercise.

If you want to fall in the category of those who leverage social media and tools to create an impact, I have a simple recipe. I don’t stake any claim that these are gospel truths but can surely say that I, as an entrepreneur, have immensely benefited by following them.

Who are you: Your social persona is your real persona most of the time in the connected world. Describe that persona in clear terms. Don’t camouflage your identity with words that are in explicit. E.g. A LinkedIn profile should clearly position you. Being a 'visionary,' 'strategist,''story-teller' are all good traits but they still don’t make it clear who you are. Remember, that’s your first positioning. Only when you clearly state who you are, that people will read ahead. Keep your achievements, testimonials,
skills, and contacts all in place. Follow the same rule for other personas. Be it for your company, or you, as an individual, “Who are you” is the start line.

. Who is your audience/target: After “who are you”, this is the second most important point. Stickiness of social media stays until you don’t wander. If you are eager to use social media for things other than professional, let there be more profiles than just one. I strictly suggest not diluting your professional profiles/handles/accounts with personal. A twitter handle can both be a very personal thing and very professional thing. It can dilute the purpose if you use one handle to do both. You’ll see most relevant people unfollow you soon. You should know your target demographic, audience whom you’d like to address, their stature this audience grow more organically than by force or paid ways.

The thought behind usage of social media by start-ups and entrepreneurs, especially those who are beginning their journeys, is to amplify their voice for a variety of reasons

. What is your content: Internet is an overcrowded place now. There are millions who are trying to create an outreach and in their own understanding; they are all doing exceptionally well. You are one among those. You have to focus on two key things: One, the quality of your content. Two, medium used to showcase content. The quality comes with research, appropriateness, contemporariness, and relevance. The medium is what makes a difference. Today most viewed content is in the form of videos, followed by animation, info graph, text and so on. Keep that in mind while devising a content strategy.

. What should be the frequency of updates: That’s where the catch-22 situation comes in. Social media is a strange place. You almost die or fade away if you are too infrequent. Similarly, abnormally high frequency will give you tag of a 'nuisance.’ This will lead to another extreme - people/fans/followers will start unfollowing you. Marketing software company Hubspot did some research on this for Facebook platform. It says that for organizations with fewer than 10,000 followers, however, the more often they posted to Facebook, the fewer clicks per post they received. Companies with less than 10,000 followers that post more than 60 times a month receive 60% fewer clicks per post than those companies that post 5 or fewer times a month. However, it is a universal fact: "don’t overwhelm your readers/followers/fans". Concentrate on the quality of content.

. What are you doing: Finally, it is crucial to understand why are you using the social platforms. What are you doing with them? Are they simply showcase tools to stress that you have a social presence? Are these platforms only for ranting, making adverse opinions, publishing negative thoughts, biases etc.? Or are they platforms to upsell, cross-sell, over sell, under sell? What are you doing with these platforms? For example, can a twitter handle only be used for pushing your products? Or can it also be used for industry information, conversations, meaningful chats etc.? Can a WhatsApp group not be a limited-time window to do a question-answer session with your communities on a pertinent topic? Can a LinkedIn group now be used for circulating a key vacancy among the core-users? There can be immense possibilities if you try to find an answer.

After being an avid user of social media both for work and individual usage for long,I've come to a conclusion that somewhere we have to work on a success formula. If you want to leverage the innate power of these transformative platforms, you have to follow certain guidelines. If you want to leverage social media to grow your business, or to build a brand or even to nurture communities, it is important to find answers to the questions asked above.