Social Media Marketing for Startups: The Right Platforms

After you have set up your brand’s accounts on each of the top social media platforms, you will need to evaluate and focus on a few platforms that have relevant audiences for your products/services and enable you to sustain meaningful content. It is best to focus the majority of your time and resources on the selected platforms for the first 6-9 months of your campaign until you have legitimate reasons to expand into new platforms.

Aside from the popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter, there is a slew of other platforms that you can use effectively to reach more audiences in order to convert them to your beloved customers.

Google+
If your business has a physical location and wants to appear in local search results, Google Plus is the best platform for it. Also, Google Plus allows any writer or marketer to build a profile and their content with Google Authorship, which is immensely valuable for search engine optimization because it helps ensure your work ranks higher in search results.

Instagram
This is a great platform if you can create interesting visual content on a regular basis. Although Instagram doesn’t allow clickable URLs in the photo descriptions section, there are plenty of ways that you can benefit from using this platform. Recognize all the different components that Instagram has to offer. This includes photograph and video posts, posting entire albums of photos, live feeds (stories) or direct messaging other users. These different options allow for a large variety of possible interactions between you and others. Interactions include comments, likes, and shares on posts, in addition to direct messaging and views on stories. Stories or live feeds allow you to instantly connect with others on activities happening at the moment and can be used for behind the scenes or sneak peeks of new products. To overcome the URL issue, every brand can provide URLs to its homepage and other social media platforms in its Instagram biography section. The section allows users to post clickable hyperlinks and provides you with the opportunity to leave a brief description of your products and services.

Pinterest
Pinterest is far more than a picture-sharing website. A lot of savvy marketers have been using it to market their products for years. The power of Pinterest is found in its recommendation feature. If a user pins a picture, Pinterest will suggest that the user follows a board belonging to another who pinned the same thing. This leads potential readers to your work through association.

After you have chosen to use social media, the next step is to determine what your strategy will be. This may include creating awareness, increasing engagement with customers or something else completely. Your strategy will help determine what social media platforms you will want to create profiles.

Part 1: Strategy

Part 2: The Right Platforms

Part 3: Crowdfunding

Part 4: Good Examples

#TestedTough Columbia x Macklemore Dream Team

In a land of extremes where rain, snow, sun and ice discourage exploration, Portland based company, Columbia Sportswear confronts mother nature’s barriers to entry. Toughness defines the Pacific Northwest, yet it also embodies those who explore the region as an escape from routine. Regardless of the purpose, Pacific Northwesterners want to enjoy their passion without becoming drenched, burnt or covered by it. Luckily, Columbia is tough enough to take on the challenge of providing garments that can withstand all the extremities nature has to offer.

At the heart of this persona is Columbia’s chairman, Gert Boyle. She exemplifies the “tested tough” moniker that drives Columbia’s perseverance in designing garments that keep the elements at bay. Gert became the chairman of the company overnight after the death of her husband. The grit and and courage required to assume control of a growing company lives on in the products Columbia offers. This is exemplified in the OutDry Extreme ECO rain jacket, which was introduced in Columbia’s 2016 product line. The tested tough persona means more than designing garments that repel the elements. Tested tough is an identity that guides Columbia’s product innovation. The OutDry Extreme ECO rain jacket is free of PFCs (perfluorinated compounds) and chemical dyes.  

Not a novice to no nonsense advertisements, Columbia Sportswear released the OutDry Extreme ECO jacket. On December 1st of 2016, the “Tested Tough” advertisement was released and the jackets hit the shelves that day. Columbia partnered up with Washington based Grammy award winning rapper and hip-hop artist, Macklemore (Ben Hammond Haggerty), to help raise of their new environmental friendly jackets.

In the video, Macklemore is shown in various places in his home state of Washington. The video starts with a picturesque photo of Macklemore’s home city of Seattle. Throughout the beginning of the video, it shows snapshots of various nature spots in the Pacific Northwest with a backdrop voice stating the beautiful landscapes the PNW has to offer. The video then cuts to video of Macklemore hiking through the woods. He prefaces the jacket by saying that in order to enjoy these destinations, we must be able to protect them by being “more thoughtful of the chemicals used in our clothing”. Macklemore educates the viewers on the dangers of PFCs, otherwise known as the chemicals used to make rain jackets water resistant and little do people know, these very chemicals are the ones polluting our environment. The rapper and hip-hop artists then wastes no time to promote Columbia’s rain jacket made from 100% recyclables and 21 plastic bottles. The rain jacket has uses no PFCs, uses dye-free fabric, and saves thirteen gallons of water in the making. The final scene shows Macklemore floating in the bed of a waterfall using his homemade floatation device made from 21 bottles that seems contrastingly unimpressive.

So… what can companies learn?

 

  • Choose a brand ambassador whose personal image aligns with your brand image

The Macklemore – Columbia pairing is more strategic than it appears at first glance. They both have strong roots in the Pacific Northwest, and often express their fondness of the nature and history of the area. Both are also a little bit quirky and rugged.

  • Celebrity endorsements don’t need to feel ingenuine

Columbia allows Macklemore to “do his own thing” while also dropping the perfect amount of promotional hints. Macklemore’s personality shines through, and he acts like a superfan and treehugger more than a celebrity endorsement.

The #TestedTough campaign is also able to bridge the toughness of the Columbia sportwear jacket with the toughness of Macklemore’s past experiences. It’s ironic and raw, and appeals to the brand’s individualistic, hard-working, and adventurous market.

  • Scientific jargon doesn’t need to weigh a commercial down

The commercial focuses on the sustainability of the jacket, and discusses the impact of chemicals that are commonly used in apparel manufacturing. Columbia is able to effectively communicate how standard practices harm the environment, and how Columbia differentiates itself by leading with cutting-edge, environmentally-friendly practices. Columbia ditches the scientific jargon and authority figure (no white jacket scientists here). Instead, Macklemore opts for a conversational tone and effectively demonstrates the environmental impact.
(You won’t find this at a thrift shop)

 

Social Media #struggle: What Comes Next for United?

Now that the damage is done what are some steps that United Airlines can take to rectify this blunder?   


Apologize, apologize, apologize!

Admitting when you have made a mistake can go a long way when trying to preserve your brand’s image. It of course does not help that UA immediately after the event stated that the passenger was being “belligerent and rude,” which turned out to be not true. Admitting your company was wrong can have a lasting effect with consumers, as long as the apology is perceived as genuine.


Cut their losses and jump into the “Big Bath”

It seemed UA only started caring about the incident after their stock took a nosedive once it became apparent that this would become viral in the social media stratosphere.  Taking monetary measures in order to make the situation right (whether you want to or not) can add to the commitment of the apology. Paying for the victim’s hospital bill would be a great place to start.


Commit to solving “Overbooking”

Having a better tracking system to determine which employees need to get on the plane will help avoid last minute overbooking issues.  Being transparent with consumers about how this process works will add a level of comfort to their purchases.  Even though this practice is widely-used by many airlines catching these issues before passengers board planes will avoid the level of escalation that we saw during the incident.  


Missed a section?

United, Take Your Turn 

United & THE INCIDENT

UnITED’s Response & The BackLash 

 

The Distinct Advantages for Startups in the Social Media Marketing Realm

Strategy

There’s no doubt that social media marketing is the key of success for so many businesses. Startups have an advantage when it comes to using social media platforms as social media users love what’s new and startups are new by default.

As a startup, to successfully leverage social media platforms to promote for your startup, there are some tips you need to follow.

First, be unique, social media is a crowded place, which is why startups need to create a unique message and activities to communicate with their target segment to stand out among the crowds. You can do this through gathering information about your audiences, such as where they spent their time on social media, which topics that attract their attention the most, and what is the best way to communicate with them whether through articles, videos, or images. For example, startups that work at home crafts and fashion might want to focus their efforts on Pinterest to deliver a unique value proposition for their products.

Second, talk less, listen more. Social media can be a good place to get ideas on what your consumers want. A successful strategy is to monitor your segment’s behaviors on the social media and leverage it to create a competitive advantage for your startup. For example, some consumers might complain about the customer service level within a certain industry and through providing an excellent delivery of this one missing a thing, you can differentiate your startup.

Third, create a tribe. It is important to make your consumers feel they are part of a startup that you care about their opinions; this feeling of the tribe can lead to increase their loyalty to your startup. Sharing your startup’s story, updated news and other interesting topics with your audience can help in creating a deep connection between consumers and your startup which is very important for any successful startup.

Part 1: Strategy

Part 2: The Right Platforms

Part 3: Crowdfunding

Part 4: Good Examples

 

 

 

Social Media #struggle: United’s Response & The Backlash

The story of a United Airlines passenger being dragged from his seat to make room for an airline employee on an already overbooked flight went viral Sunday night. This story has since become a publicity nightmare for United’s CEO and staff. On April 11th, one day after the incident, United CEO Oscar Munoz released the following statement: “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”

For many twitter users, the word “re-accommodate” stood out more than Munoz’s overall message.

In response to the incident, United Airlines has maintained its customer service presence on its social media accounts. Prior to Sunday their online tone was very simple and informative, whereas now their interactions are much more positive and caring, which is probably not a coincidence.


Again on Tuesday, United posted a statement on its website for its employees:

Dear Team,

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.

I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.

It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.

I promise you we will do better.

Sincerely,

Oscar


In a last attempt to quiet an outraged public, Munoz publicly stated, “I continue to be disturbed by what happened. I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way. We are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again.” Munoz has pledged to look into the incident with a full public report by April 30, as well as a review into the company’s partnerships with law enforcement and reevaluating its policies on giving paying-customer seats to employees and overbooking strategy.

Chapter 4: What Comes Next?

Social Media #struggle: United & THE INCIDENT

On April 9th, a United Airlines flight choose to seat four employees last minute and in turn ‘re-accommodate’ four passengers. At this point, the passengers had already been checked-in and seated. As per protocol, they offered a $400 compensation, hotel for the night, and flight the next afternoon for any volunteer willing to leave the plane. When no one accepted this offer, United representatives upped the compensation offer to $800 but still received no takers.

At this point United decided to have a ‘computer algorithm’ randomly select four passengers to the leave the plane. One couple that was chosen begrudgingly left the plane but the third passenger selected didn’t want to get off the plane.

A man refused to leave the plane, claiming to be a doctor who needed to see patients in the morning. A security officer was called to escort him off the plane and escalated to manhandling the passenger by wrestling him out of his seat and dragging him down the aisle off the plane. During this process, the man’s head was smashed against an armrest and further bloodied.


What made this incident different than a possibly similar incident in the past was the availability of phone cameras and social media. No less than two passengers sitting nearby recorded the entire incident on their cameras and then posted to social medias. The virality of the incident and videos could not have existed 10 years ago. The video in question was shared on social media and led to a plethora of memes of sites such as Reddit, Imgur, and Tumblr. Even traditional media jumped on the United meme bandwagon to gain views from the viral subject.

The excess of evidence of the mishandling of the situation led to outrage at the canned PR jargon that the CEO of United spewed out in response.

Chapter 3: Click here to hear more about United’s response and the backlash that ensued.

Social Media #struggle: United, Take Your Turn

In a week full of social media and corporate snafus, it’s difficult to choose just one. As referenced in the graphic above, United is the winner for this week’s Social Media #struggle.

Chose your own adventure:

United’s Social Media Track Record

THE INCIDENT

United’s Response and Community Backlash

What comes next for United?

Or Just Follow Along for the Ride.


Pre-Incident 

United’s social media presence before the most recent overbooking incident seems fairly tame, referencing various destinations, travel themes, business, new planes added to their fleet, and employee recognition. In 2008, eons ago in social media terms, United faced the “United Breaks Guitars” fiasco. The music video made the Time’s top ten viral videos of 2009, and significantly damaged United’s image for years after the incident.


More recently, United faced another incident regarding leggings. Two women on employee passes wore leggings for their trip on March 26th. They were denied entrance to the plane. Passengers in plain view, most notably Shannon Watts, tweeted about the situation and it quickly experienced a viral effect.


United may need a lesson in corporate responses through social media: how to respond and whether to respond at all.


The next day, United released an official statement, “To our customers … your leggings are welcome!” Other airlines jumped in with their own responses to the incident.

United Airlines recent leggings incident lighted a media firestorm, but barely affected stock prices. Not to be easily forgotten, United went back for another round.

Chapter Two: The Incident

Social Media: Are We Living in the Twilight Zone?

Many of us remember the Twilight Zone as offering a glimpse into a society much like our own, but wherein something eerie casts a shadow over the seemingly pleasant facade of society.

 

 

Naturally, fans of the series were ecstatic when British television series announced it would be releasing a similar anthology series entitled Black Mirror 

 

 

The third season plunged right in with their debut episode “Nose Dive.” “Nose Dive,” tells the story of a young woman named Lacie living in a society very much like our own where individuals rate every interaction they have with one another on a five-star system simply by pointing it at them. One’s cumulative score is used to determine where you may live, what jobs you may have, and what transportation you have access to.

 

 

After viewing this episode I was struck by the realization that to a lesser extent we are already living in a society fueled by ratings and limited interactions. Have we fully entered the Twilight Zone? No, but we may be farther down the path than we realize.

 

 

In the wake of the United States Presidental election, there was a clamoring on Facebook of people unfriending those with dissenting political views. When those with contradictory views are removed you are left with a small contained bubble of individuals who all share the same beliefs and values. Individuals also self-select their communities based on the content they prefer to see and the content they don’t.

 

When there is no differentiation of opinions, and no questioning of the information being presented the result is an overwhelmingly strong subconscious desire to conform. What is created is a bubble of confirmation bias which is then fueled by the social media platform. Similarly to the tradition of the media deciding which information to convey and at what time, Facebook also decides which content each individual sees and when. Facebook perpetuates the confirmation bias through the use of targeted marketing based on the networks of like-minded individuals in a person’s profile.

 

 

Social media has captured immeasurable audience interest from users to non-users alike since the earliest sites were launched. In recent years a new Twilight Zone-esque trend has been rising, the trend of the pretty girl who makes money by posting pictures on Instagram.

 

 

Once upon a time, the majority of product and brand ambassadors were varying levels of celebrity. Post-Twilight Zone, all one needs in order to become an ambassador is a sizeable number of Instagram followers and the ability to take flattering and or sexy photos with said products.

 

 

The general logic behind these campaigns is simple to follow. How do you get your product a wider or more targetted audience? Give your product to a few people with sizeable Instagram followers and ask them to review your product. In an age where the new cool thing is to be authentic, brands recognize that an “average” girl may be able to better influence her peers than say, Selena Gomez.

 

On the surface, this logic is straightforward and seems like a reasonable avenue to increased sales, but what are the underlying implications?  In the new age of Instagram ambassadors, brands are relying on the fact that consumers are drawn to the authenticity of the ambassador, their popularity, and the idea that with enough work someday they could be in their shoes.

 

 

The paradox here is that brands are hinging their marketing plans on the authenticity of a platform which by societal design only showcases the rosy aspects of an “authentic” life. With everyone online and the ability to view anyone’s profile, there is a heightened desire to only put forth what and how you want the world to see you. With this level of ingenuity, how can any interactions on such a platform be judged as authentic?

 

 

In the digital age of social media, we have created a society where individuals are only part of like-minded groups, information is tailored to the individual based on what they want to see, and our “authentic” lives are nothing more than shadows behind popularity filters and the idea of a “perfect” life. When taken in this context, one must ask, are we living in the Twilight Zone already?