Social media enables a startup to increase its visibility and positively influence customer relationships, which can expand a company’s customer base and boost its profits. To achieve these benefits of social media, a startup must craft a social media strategy that will support its budding business. Elements of the strategy include the careful selection of a social media team and the active use of each social media platform to which they subscribe.

Select Appropriate Members for Your Social Media Team
It’s important to appoint employees to your startup’s social media team who understand the possible risks of using social media to promote a brand, as well as the benefits. The team should be up-to-date on the current technologies so they might effectively present a consistent persona across all platforms the company uses. When posts and tweets and pins share one clear voice, the public will more easily relate to the company and prospects will convert to customers.

A social media team should include not only employees of a startup’s marketing department, but also communication experts, attorneys and members of the company’s leadership team.  These individuals will provide information about the startup’s operations that the marketing team may lack. In addition, should a social media crises occur, a diverse team will best develop and implement the startup’s response.

Be Visible Across Multiple Social Media Platforms
The social media team should use all platforms to which the startup subscribes to communicate with existing and prospective customers. If a company is present on a social platform but passive, the passivity can send a signal to dissatisfied customers and others that they are free to publish any posts, whether or not the posts might harm a brand. So create an account on a social media platform only if the platform offers value to your startup and if your company plans to post messages frequently. That value might be a means to offer your customers an online service or gather marketing intelligence. It might also be to introduce or establish your brand, or interact with customers.

It’s also important to match a social media platform to a particular message. For example, using Facebook, a company can see when its “fans” are online and publish content accordingly. In turn, Twitter can be used for quick comments, rather than extensive explanations.

Respond to All Messages and Posts with An Appropriate Message
A startup’s social media team should respond to each post and message and provide solutions to issues of site visitors when appropriate. To ignore a post suggests a site visitor’s concern is of little consequence or that your company doesn’t have the means to resolve an issue, both of which leave a negative impression.

It’s equally important to respond quickly to posts and messages to ensure that negative word-of-mouth does not spread at a fast pace. Don’t wait until an ideal solution to an issue is identified, because many consumers expect a company to provide a response to an issue or question within an hour, regardless of the time of day or night.

Provide Technical and Social Etiquette Training to Your Social Media Team
A startup should offer training to members of the social media team regarding the function of social media platforms and the rules of appropriate behavior when representing the company, particularly in regards to responses to negative messages. For example, the team should be aware of the need to respond to questions and complaints within an hour. Also, the team should be taught an appropriate response to negative publicity, as well as actions they might take to prevent it from occurring.

Evangelize the Power of Social Media Platforms
Messages conveyed using social media platforms reach a large audience, which is why startups rely on the platforms to convey marketing messages. Each message and post can influence the public’s perception of a brand and a company’s image. As a message “goes viral,” it can be viewed by millions of existing and potential customers. Consequently, it’s important that company leaders promote the use of social media for marketing purposes. But employees must also be aware of its risks in terms of potential damage to a brand’s image. This awareness is especially important for the team that implements a company’s social media strategy.

The proper use of social media to support a business strategy is a challenge and an imperative. It’s difficult to train employees to provide customers great online service using social platforms and prevent actions that can lead to a negative brand perception. But the ability of social media to increase a startup’s visibility and positively influence customer relationships means a company has no option but to attempt to maximize the benefits of social platforms by implementing an appropriate social media strategy.

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