Social media is seductive because of its easy point of entry and low-cost basis, but a lot of time and effort are required to create a successful campaign. Large corporations can dump money into huge advertising campaigns whenever they want, but it’s the bit players -- the emerging startups of the world -- that can really take their campaigns to the next level.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
The startup advantage
Why do startups seem to have such a distinct advantage in the social media marketing realm? The answer revolves partially around the fact that social users love what’s new -- and startups are new by default.
Startups also don’t have a ton of resources or options when it comes to advertising, and social media serves as a perfect “runway” on which to build a reputation.
Let’s take a look at how some recent startups have been able to make the most of their social media presences:
1. Magic Leap
Magic Leap is an interesting company, developing a kind of augmented reality and virtual reality system. The company is keeping its product under wraps for the most part, but it has been generating interest among its future user base by producing intense, thought-provoking content and getting the world ready for what it’s about to debut.
Even though Magic Leap hasn’t made any formal announcements about a release date (or what, exactly, its computing platform is going to do), it’s managed to amass more than 60,000 likes on Facebook and more than 32,000 Twitter followers. Why? Because its content is interactive and engaging and gives users a tease of what they can expect next.
2. Squatty Potty
Squatty Potty is a simple device designed to correct toilet-sitting posture, which is apparently a bigger problem than most of us realize. Square Potty's somewhat taboo subject matter and potentially boring product were completely overcome by the company’s ingenious social media marketing campaign, which is still running.
A colorful unicorn pooping ice cream, in a video narrated by a man dressed as a knight, started as a simple advertisement and went viral due to its hard-to-watch yet captivating nature, and the company backed up the video with tones of peripheral content related to its device and healthy bowel movements.
Operator is a new app that functions as a kind of personal assistant for the purchases you want to make. Once you install the app, you can use it to connect to an expert on the subject, who can then guide you to making the right purchasing decision.
The company does a stellar job at marketing itself through social media, in part because it’s such a strong social app to begin with. Instead of offering an on-site live chat service, Operator integrates directly with Facebook Messenger, leading the way for customer service on social media. It also maintains a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by engaging with its customers and providing fresh streams of new content regularly.
LiveList is an app capitalizing on the recent trend of live streaming video to help people connect to their favorite performers when they take the stage. Again, this is kind of a social app in and of itself, so its entire model depends on being able to connect a lot of people quickly and in real time.
Thankfully, due to its nature, LiveList already has a deep bank of content it can potentially promote, in the form of past and/or current performances, and it uses this as an asset to attract new followers. Like Operator, LiveList has taken to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with about 10,000 followers on each of the first two.
Finally, we have GoPro. Now, technically this isn’t a startup -- the product has been around for years -- but its social media marketing campaign is too good not to mention. GoPro is a specialty camera, so what better way to promote that product than leveraging all the awesome visual content it’s capable of producing?
GoPro uses a mix of its own submissions and user-submitted content (usually relating to travel, extreme sports, or other adventures) to keep its feeds on Facebook and Instagram running -- and, because of that content, it has one of the most impressive social media empires in the business.
What can we learn from these stellar examples? Here are five takeaways:
- Show off what you’ve got. Find an angle that works for your brand -- one that’s unique and valuable to your users; and use that angle as the foundation for your online presence.
- Engage with your users. This is crucial. Don’t just post content blindly; engage with your users on a regular basis.
- Be consistent. You’re only going to retain your audience if you’re consistently providing high-quality material, so keep at it.
- Know your audience. Learn what your audience finds most valuable or helpful, and give it to them. You won’t have a social media campaign unless you keep your users in mind.
- Build anticipation. This is a tip almost exclusively for startups, though you could also build anticipation around an upcoming product launch or reveal. Use social media as a way to tease your audience about what’s coming next.
You don’t have to be a startup to reap the benefits of a social media marketing campaign. In fact, I highly encourage every business to get involved here. The risks and costs are low, and if you plan and execute a campaign with your end users in mind, you just might see a huge return on your investment.