How Should Startups Use Social Media?

social mediaFor startups, social media can be a seductive creature, which explains why there is so much enthusiasm about how Twitter, Facebook, et al can drive brand awareness and sales.

Many startups find social media irresistible because the major services are free and popular. The problem is startups forget that social media can suck up their most valuable resources – people and time.

It means startups need to be strategic and careful about how and where they spend their time on social media, otherwise they risk spinning their wheels with little ROI.

At well, startups need to recognize social media is just one part of a marketing program.

The most important consideration is determining what social media services will do the best job of engaging and meeting the needs of a startup’s target audiences. When there are only so many bullets to shoot, you need to choose carefully.

When it comes to social media, I have a two-fold philosophy: walk before you run, and focus rather than spreading yourself too thin.

For startups, this means picking a social media service that will drive the best results, and then do a great job meeting the needs of potential and existing customers who use it.

For a B2C startup, Twitter or Facebook may be the best options. Twitter has value as a way to distribute value-added content, drive leads and do customer service. Facebook can be a good place for a startup to engage with customers, particularly for products used on a regular basis.

For B2B startups, LinkedIn and Twitter may hold the most potential. LinkedIn can be good to play in a specific market or industry, particularly the use of groups. Twitter also has good potential but I would suggest it may not be fertile as it is for B2C startups.

Aside from selecting the right social media services, it is important to have a strong idea about how much time and effort they can to invest to get the expected results.

If there are only a handful of employees, a startup may have an hour or two each day.  Using the right tools, it will still let a startup publish content, monitor activity and engage with customers.

Last but not least, a startup needs to constantly measure social media activity to see if the expected metrics are being met. If the performance is falling short, it may mean a change in tactics or exploring another social media service.

Bottom line: social media can be a valuable tool for startups. But startups need to have a plan of attack so social media doesn’t consume too many resources or not generate enough ROI to justify doing.

Here’s a rough chart about the social media services for B2C and B2B startups

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 3.07.18 PM





For more thoughts on startups and social media, check out Eric Basu’s column in Forbes.

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  • Andrew

    This is great! The breakdown between B2C and B2B is something a lot of articles miss out on and it’s glad to see that you did it here. Thanks!

  • GeoTel

    I know for a small technology-based business, we know that social media is vital, but being able to efficiently and effectively promote ourselves via Twitter and Facebook has been harder and more time consuming than we expected.