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Category: brand

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Be an Expert in Your Field, Not Social Media

We’re all aware of the pervasive use of social media (23% of users check Facebook more than 5 times a day!); for small businesses, monitoring our accounts can seem like a productivity vampire, stealthily sucking resources, time and energy away from more important projects.


But, there can be a way to efficiently spend time on social media! The key to social media success isn’t becoming a whiz on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, it’s knowing your strengths, maximizing your time and displaying yourself to the world as the expert you are. Not sure how to get started? Read on, grasshopper.


Make a Plan


We’ve all fallen into the rabbit hole of social media. We’re casually checking our updates and, two hours later, we’re staring at our ex-boyfriend’s cousin’s dog’s 1st birthday pictures. The same can happen when posting on behalf of a company. Time is money, so dedicate a certain number of hours per day to researching, creating, posting and interacting. Budget this time into your overall day and stick to it — setting an alarm might sound crazy but will keep you aware of the clock. Unscheduled updating, replying and tweeting will syphon off productivity like a three-year-old sneaking icing from a cake.


I handle social media for three tech companies: PlanetReuse, PlanetReuse Marketplace and InvenQuery. I spend the first three hours of the day collecting, curating and creating content for reach of these accounts and check in once or twice throughout the day for 10-20 minutes, responding to any questions and to reply or re-tweet to interesting content. Resist the urge to mindlessly scroll!


Create, Execute, Analyze


Make your life as easy as possible by using a scheduling app like buffer to create your posts for the day(s), then set it and forget it. There are a myriad of options to fit your analytics and price needs. Use the reporting to see what’s working and what’s not. Getting a lot of clicks on a subject you are particularly knowledgeable in? Consider hosting a Google hangout or webinar to discuss the topic, endearing yourself to your audience and building your online cred. People really digging those pictures of your dog in sweatshirts? Make it a weekly occurrence.


Remember that posts that include a picture, link, video or poll have a much higher rate of likes, comments, reposts and shares. Sometimes your audience needs to be told what to do. Want a link to be re-tweeted? Ask for it!


Figure out what to say and how to say it


What is it you want to be known for? You can’t be everything to everyone, so make a list of the topics to focus on. Create Google alerts and a BlogLovin account so that relevant content is served up daily to your inbox, fresh for the posting. Does your company build websites and blogs? Concentrate on design, innovation and technology. Use hashtags to add your voice to the conversation, and at tweet trendsetters in your field.


Develop a tone, and be as authentic as possible. Is your company quirky? Serious? Scholarly? Use a vocabulary that will exemplify your brand image. Your audience wants to interact with living humans, not a nameless company, so give them a feel for who you are.


As you repeat your message and brand across platforms, you might start to sound like a broken record. Don’t sweat it; by presenting yourself in a uniform manner, you’ll cement your image in your customer’s mind.


Delegate, with oversight


Is there someone at your company (we’re looking at you, intern) who really loves social media? Don’t be afraid to hand over the reigns, with supervision. Have discussions on how to respond to customer interactions, general questions and any sensitive issues that might arise. Consider rotating the role of social media conductor to different employees; you’ll not only present a broader depth of topics and tone to your audience, you’ll also build the professional development of your staff.


Find your audience


Once you’ve figured out your plan of attack, create a loyal following. This brilliant, slightly sneaky process of finding social media profiles through your existing email lists will give you a starting off point.


Search hashtags and keywords to see who is discussing topics you care about. Follow, friend and interact with these people. Favorite, re-tweet or reply to the nice comments that are made about you. And if you’re getting customer service tweets or posts that aren’t necessarily glowing, respond to them quickly and be straightforward; your transparency and integrity will be on display for all of Twitterdom to see.


Be aware of different audiences on different platforms, and consider modifying your content. Perhaps some customers that would love your new camera lens will be reading product review sites, while others will be looking at photography on Pinterest.


Spread the word


Let people know where to find you. Add social media links to webpages, blogs, emails, newsletters and any other communications. And make sure your company bios communicate your brand consistently across all your networks, reflect your brand authentically, and give people a good reason to follow and share your content.


Loosen up


Finally, don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re going to mess up. You might offend someone. You’ll probably have some typos. You might post from the wrong account. Be upfront and honest about it. Address the issue and move on. So will everyone else.


A Brand Does Not Make The Company

I think we all agree that a name, logo and color palette, a.k.a. brand, are very important to the entire experience of any company — and startups are no exception.


The goal of most every brand is to become the household name; the first name that comes to mind when there is a thought of a particular industry. The real question here, is “at what stage are resources best spent on branding in your startup?”


If you have been involved with business activities on any level, you should have heard the age old saying, ”cash is king,” quite frequently. Cash is the key to many closed doors and is the fuel to many fires, so why would you want to spend cash on something that may not even exist in the near future? Although this ”something” may pique interest of prospects or act as a conversation starter at conferences, this ”something” shouldn’t be where your resources are spent at first or duringpre-validation. This ”something” is a brand.


Your big question at this point has to be “Why?”


“…things change, Mox…” (Varsity Blues)


Things change indeed and a name, subsequently a brand, is no different. Far too often do startups spend some of their ever-so-important early stage capital on branding, logos, domain names, etc. Startup venture studios, like Differential, practice lean startup and rely heavily on validation and customer feedback to drive the next iterations. Sometimes, based on customer feedback, those iterations may involve changing a name very early causing sunken waste piles of intangible assets and a bank account that could really use those extra few thousand dollars. Sometimes peer groups, mentors or advisors may strike a chord with you on their reasoning for changing a name and, a week later, you’re back to spending money on branding.


So, the question now is “Where?”


Where should you spend your time and money at the early stages? It should be on validating your startup, developing your customers and actually making money rather than spend it on something as volatile as a name, a domain, a brand. As soon as you’ve developed a customer and recorded your first bit of revenue (exciting for sure, but not easy), then start looking at refining the image, refining the brand, refining the message and even getting that professionally designed logo you’ve been dreaming about.
Please don’t get me wrong, a brand is very important to the long term success of a business. It’s just that it isn’t a smart way to spend early resources due to the fact that: there are business activities that are more important to the success of your startup (validation, customer development, preorders) and the chances that your name and subsequently brand will change. Plenty of startups have iterated on their name. For example, VouchedFor changed to Repp, Pingage changed to Ahalogy and Untitled Startup became Simply Measured, and, although the reasoning is different in each case, the $1,000 “.com” domain, or the $700 logo just didn’t get the job done. Add your own startup that successfully changed their names on my list and help prove my point!