Many traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses still don’t consider Social Media as a source of leads. It can be an advantage, and disadvantage as conventional (let’s call them ‘technophobe’) customers don’t consider engaging with established brands on social media. But especially for younger generations, startups have a fantastic advantage in providing a great social media experience for potential/new customers.
It is well known the ageing population of ‘baby-boomers’, who were born between 1946 and 1964, has not embraced technology as rapidly as the digital-natives of successive generations. Baby-boomers also have a higher disposable income than any generation before and after them. Not something to be sniffed at. Are baby-boomers becoming more social media savvy? Well, digital take-up rates are improving as smart-phone usage of baby-boomers in the US is already above 75% plus saturation rate (according to a 2017 AARP study).
As a startup, you may be interested in which is the best social media channel to invest time and money in. This decision depends on your product/service, your ideal customer or persona, and how users will react to using social media. Social media can be desirable in targeting your key customer persona’s or semi-fictional ideal customer and enhancing the customer experience for, the relatively new term of, ‘micro-moments’.
Smartphone usage is overtaking PC usage and the rise of Alexa, Siri and Cortana means it is now easier than ever to have ‘I want to know’, ‘I want to go’, ‘I want to do’ and ‘I want to buy’ moments – whether you are at home or on the move. Social media perfectly serves these micro-moments.
Facebook: ‘Fake news or a book of faces?’
Facebook is probably the most widely known and used of all social media channels. It is ideal for Business to Consumer (B2C) communication. The social network has made it increasingly easier for businesses to leverage the platform, with offerings like Company Pages, the Facebook Marketplace, Groups and the Facebook advertising solutions. With about 2.3 billion active users worldwide, more people use Facebook than any other social media platform.
LinkedIn: ‘CV or not CV?’
LinkedIn has been one of the most abused channels in recent times and is often seen as the depository for everyone’s CV and job hopping/hunting profile. But it is still an important channel, especially in the Business to Business (B2B) space, and with links to its purchase of Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning), Groups pages and Profile finder it appeals to many business sectors. 54% of LinkedIn members are upper management members, and more than 40 million students are making up the fastest growing demographic. Finding a specific persona is easy on LinkedIn. Groups can be utilised as an industry, hobby or interest group for softly targeted approaches, making you an expert or authority in your field. Lead conversion rates are quite good profiling is pretty easy.
Twitter: ‘and the magic of micro-moments’
30% of online users are under 50 years of age. Only about 11% are above this. The 25 to 34-year-old age group uses Twitter still more than any other social media channel – especially for news. If ‘early adopters’ from the Product Lifecycle curve are your likely market, Twitter is worth considering. 61% of users regularly use Twitter to follow small businesses and most importantly, interact.
Instagram: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’
Most businesses benefit from their customers learning about the processes in making something, seeing their staff at work in a real bonding process. If local, home-grown quality is key to your brand, then Instagram highlights the technical and people aspects of both. The ‘know, like and trust’ factor of pictures is the key selling point of Instagram as well as inspiration for many people’s hobbies, from stamp-collecting to jewellery making.
Already about 500 million people use Instagram daily which is widespread as a mostly phone-based platform. Users also spend more time per month on Instagram than any other smart-phone medium (4.2 hours).
Youtube: ‘Video killed the radio star’
Not traditionally known as a social media channel, but with its commenting, likes and links capability, Youtube is a rising star. Beware, it is costly and time-consuming to produce consistently high-quality videos. By the way: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn all allow embedded video on their sites, which is excellent for how-to’s and explaining technical details.
Pinterest: ‘Pins for the interested’
As Instagram can be relatively fleeting, Pinterest is a hobbyist How-to and picture collective. Collecting images for inspiration in the future make Pinterest ideal for selling ideas and suggestions to the maker, designer, fashion and hobbyist crowd.
New Social Media channels to watch out for:
Snapchat is popular among the younger generation of digital natives, and its expiring messages are ideal for use combined with VIP access, discount codes and influencer marketing, such as features of your followers and knowing who your real audience is and connecting with them.
Periscope: ‘Live feed for the Twitter generation’ is Twitter’s live streaming service, so if something is timely such as a football or concert real-time video can be pushed to your Twitter followers
WhatsApp/Telegram: Startups should also consider experimenting with WhatsApp groups and Telegram channels, as it’s a more personal way of marketing than traditional social channels, and you’re likely to have a closer relationship with your customers than large corporations.
How to get started with Social Media
You don’t have to actively and personally engage with social media every day, as there are many tools which help with the process of automating feeds and channels. Automation tools such as Buffer, Ritetag, Buzzsumo, IFTTT, sproutsocial, amongst others, all assist with the process. Some social media channels frown on this practice, but it’s a massive time saver. For example, LinkedIn doesn’t allow its Groups feed to be automated and the API’s from automation tools don’t work.
Marketing your business involves focusing on a persona or number of persona’s to design your message specifically to market to them. Creating and transmitting messages can be done quickly on social media using #hashtags and calling out other users with their @handle so makes it relatively easy to target select customers who might act as a key influencer, attracting more ‘fans’.
It is not an alternative to your web page and presence but can act as a powerful draw to potential customers with interests in the field you cater for.
Which Social Media channel should I use?
There are many statistics available on typical social media customer profiles. They also change over time as social media use is evolving. If you haven’t already done so, find out who your ideal customer persona is.
Empathising with the buyer personas you have selected, which media channel would you use? Once you have chosen the top three most favourable channels, review what a campaign plan would look like to attract customers to your website landing page or contact you directly. Industry standard expectations for Click-Through Rates (CTR) can be found from various marketing company blogs.
From these approximate figures and the ease-of-use of the channel (Instagram is rather easy; Youtube can be a significant investment in time and videography costs), a customer acquisition cost (CAC) can be calculated. Typical customer Lifetime Value (LTV) or profitability per customer to CAC ratios should be in the region of 3:1. i.e. your campaign should result in a customer value being 3 times the cost of acquisition. If it is 1:1 you are spending too much. If 5:1 then you are spending too little.
Using a combination of the search terms in social media and relevant hashtags can bring up so many variables in an ever smaller world. When competing against low-cost entrants then social media can benefit your brand of locally produced, high quality and rapid response customer service enquiries.
As with all marketing just because it is digital doesn’t mean success will come overnight. It takes time, consistent messaging and exciting posts to build a following. If you don’t have the knowledge or inclination but are interested, there are many social media agencies available to assist. A good social media strategist will understand your market and work to ensure they drive business to your site, enhancing your brand as well as providing an ROI.
Conclusion: If your startup’s customer persona is a frequent user of social media and technology, then a social media strategy/campaign is a great way to add an easy-to-use marketing channel to attract new customers. If your startup is for ag the elderly, known ‘technophobes’ or Baby-boomers then still don’t dismiss social media yet as adoption rates are rising, but don’t make it your number one marketing priority.