5 Things Every Start-Up Should Know About Social

Charleston is growing into a start-up and tech hub of the Southeast. We should put a sign on the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse that says, “give us your tech-savvy, your huddled masses—around the Mac Thunderbolt display.”

Although innovation is a strength of most tech entrepreneurs, some don’t consider marketing their product or service as top priority. With the onslaught of social media platforms, articles, tactics and tips, it can be difficult to keep up, but this medium is incredibly important to start-ups—mainly because it’s free (or cheap) to create a community around your brand.

Here are 5 things you need to know—and act upon first.

  1. Reserve your handles. Even if you don’t plan on using them.

Try to keep them as simple and as branded as possible. For example, if your company is called Hammy and your website is Hammy.com, don’t use @GoHammy on Instagram, @Hammyrific on Twitter and Hammy Hammerson on Facebook. It needs to be easy to find you—really, really easy.

  1. Don’t start something you can’t finish.

One of the main components to a successful social brand is consistency. So even though you need to reserve your handles, don’t start updating Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest unless you can keep up with it and develop the communities there. Being inconsistent is worse than having no presence at all. It’s frustrating and confusing to your potential customers, your current customers, and even your investors.

  1. Keep it to dinner conversation.

Unless you want your brand to be known for snark, or having controversial or political commentary, stick to dinner conversation on branded social platforms. That means no religion, no politics and no money talk. Keep the really opinionated stuff for your personal handles.

  1. Respond to everything.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re a business owner, standing in line at a coffee shop and someone simply says, “If you say hello to me, you’ll probably get my business.” Now that seems a little crazy, right? But that’s the way it works on social. People want to purchase from and work with companies that actively engage with them on social. It builds trust. Do not ignore any inquiries, complaints or praises.

  1. Tell your story.

Social isn’t about the hard sell. It’s about creating communities, starting conversations and asserting your brand as an authority and resource. Not sure what’s worth sharing on social? Here are some examples:

  1. Times of (minor) struggle – this makes your brand relatable
  2. Behind-the-scenes, the team having fun or being silly
  3. Working hard after hours – this builds trust and respect
  4. Totally unrelated (but fun) content – best on Friday afternoon
  5. Tips or advice you were just given
  6. Your brand’s values (and how you came up with them)
  7. When you get in a new shipment of product, get a new team member, get placed in a new store, small wins
  8. Highlight staff members one-by-one – they’ll share it
  9. Highlight your best customers – leverage their communities

In short, don’t be dull. People are inundated with ads, promotional materials and even (still) direct mail all day. They’ll only remember you if your story is compelling.

  1. One more for the road: get better at grammar.

If you are handling your own social presence, learn how to spell, utilize commas and conjugate verbs. If you’re not sure, look it up before you hit “publish.”

Amber Ludeman is CEO of matchstick social, which specializes in social branding for small-to-medium businesses and is located in Downtown Charleston.