6 Essential Social Media Tools for Start-Ups
If you are starting up a new company that primarily goes from business to consumer, without a big budget in marketing or PR, your best chance for getting your message across will be via social media. Most start-ups or major corporations which adopt social media tools to market and engage their customers in Southeast Asia, are essentially in the IT, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG – for example, mobile phones, computers and gadgets) or online media space. Specifically in this article, we want to focus essentially on the start-ups space and offer 6 essential social media tools that a start-up will need.
The only essential principle for adopting social media is the strategic objective i.e. why are you using these social media tools for your start-up? It can vary from companies to companies. If you are not sure which one to use, at least first register your URLs to create accounts for Facebook Pages, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr first. Do not tap on them until you figure out exactly what you want to do with them. The backlash can be worst if you have started using these tools without an objective. Each tool can be specifically tapped to focus on one specific objective, for example, engaging customers’ feedback, providing documentation on how to use the product and talking about the design and the issue that your product is trying to solve. So, here are our 6 essential social media tools for start-ups:
Blogs – Blogger/WordPress: You can always start a corporate blog to talk about your product/service. There are many reasons why you should have a corporate blog. Remember the objective. The essential rule is not to plug your product too much. Don’t talk about your company, but focus on the people within the company, or you or your team’s thoughts about the industry in general. Intangible good will generate via corporate blogs usually spread via word of mouth marketing or the blog becomes a must-read for those who are in the industry. Here are two ways: either you do a http://blog.yourcompany.com or register the blogs on blogger or wordpress. If you are greedy, you can grab typepad, tumblr, posterous and many other blogs out there.
Rich Media Content Sharing – Flickr/YouTube: Sometimes, if you want to provide screenshots or do a video documentation of your product or service, a good way to use the distribution channels via rich media content sharing sites. The reason why you put it up in the public channel is not necessary for people to view. As a start-up, since you have relatively low amount of funds, make use the bandwidth of Flickr and YouTube and then utilize the power of social networking tools to share across platforms thru your friends, family and fans. You can always consider alternative means of photo (Picasa, Facebook Photos, Phlook) and video sharing (Vimeo, Viddler, Tudou, Youku).
Social Networks – Facebook/Linkedin/Ning: If you are unable to build a platform to get a community, make use the power of the social networks to spread your message. If you want to have a small social network for specific purposes, create a simple one via Ning. If you want to share via social bookmarking tools, then spread it via shared links in Facebook. Of course, you can create a Facebook group to organize your customers, or better, create a Facebook Page to illustrate the profile of your company, engage your customers, share links on content and also do social advertising within Facebook. The same principle can be applied to Linkedin, MySpace (particularly if you are in the entertainment industry and wants to expand into the US market), China based social networks (51.com, Kaixin001, RenRen – former Xiaonei) CyWorld (Korea) and Mixi (Japan).
Micro-Blogging – Twitter/Plurk: The streaming of information about the latest product from your start-up can be facilitated in real time through the help of micro-blogging, text-based messages with the maximum of 140 characters. Twitter is currently the most popular way of spreading information. Well, if you are in Singapore, you can give Plurk a shot as well, which is micro-blogging with a timeline. However, do not always send out tweets that concerns the company. One advice given by social media experts is that you stem your thoughts as a specialist of the industry and at times, provide tweets regarding the industry as a whole. Make use of auxiliary services such as bit.ly for URL shortening and link tracing to check how many people are clicking thru your tweets to see the site or Twitpic to show pictures via twitter. Alternatively, try Tweet.SG and SGBeat for local presence.
Aggregators – Digg: If the founders within your company get a feature in a notable blogs, a immediate strategy is to submit it to Digg. If you want to turn one of your blog posts, audio podcasts or video with the assistance of viral marketing, the best strategy is to use Digg or other related aggregators that will broadcast your message quickly. Of course, the key of using aggregator is that you have an interesting story to tell. The best way to work with this, is to keep trying different means and ways to send out ideas about the products and services on your company. In Singapore, you can also try using Ping.SG as an alternative.
Forums – HardWareZone, Comsenz or your industry-centric forum: Unlike the West, the bulletin board services (BBS) in the form of online forums are still popular. You should probably post on issues relating to your area of work. The same strategy can work in China (Comsenz) since online forums are more popular than social networks and blogs there as well. The strategy of writing in discussion forums is the same as in what has mentioned in blogs. In fact, in the area of web development, and if your company specialize in creating new plugins and modules for the platform, you might want to get into the discussion forums and chat with fellow developers. Sometimes, someone might take notice of your product and spread the word.
Of course, the tools are always ready for your disposal, but the key is how you use it to maximize publicity and marketing for your start-up. Of course, I have not included analysis tools to track social media presence.
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Tags: 51.com, bit.ly, CyWorld, Digg, Entrepreneurs, Facebook, flickr, Friendfeed, Friendster, HardWareZone, Kaixin001, Linkedin, Microblogs, Mixi, MySpace, RenRen, Social Media, Southeast Asia, Start-ups, Twitpic, Twitter, Xiaonei, Youtube
There are a lot of (so-called) social media “experts” out there telling you what to do and how – that it can be a bit overwhelming. This sometimes daunting task of determining what the best methods of social media conversation are, balanced with one’s time, is the key.
The article from Bernard Leong offers a few essential tools to consider. Some may be more applicable to you than others. Focus your time on the tools that are most useful to your brand, and “grow” from there. Be consistent in messaging, be a good listener, communicate regularly. And… remember social media is a conversation, not a one way advertising campaign.
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