Uphill struggles of social media for startups

Any business plan aiming for success must include proposals for getting the brand out to the market and in order to start to make money as quickly as possible. Investors will always be on your back wanting the business to generate cash from sales quickly and for a new business owner it can get very stressful. The days of getting new business solely through traditional or conventional media channels such as the press, TV and mail shots are behind us. We live in an online world which gives companies (even the smallest of companies) the chance to establish its brand profile quickly and inexpensively, and more importantly it gives a cash-generating entity.

There are many opportunities for new businesses to become social media industry leaders. Google has supported this statement by announcing that Google+ users need to become a “niche authority”. This means that if businesses write impressive content, they have the chance to become the best known in social media and so become social media leaders in their industry, which will allow them to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Pete questioned five new businesses from different industries; recruitment, carpentry, property, graphic design and wine and liquor. Focusing on how and why each business uses social media, results show huge differences from company to company.

Importance of social media according to 5 different start-ups

The graph above shows how each company rated the importance of social media in their company, indicating that the creative digital graphic design company considered social media to be more important than the rest and considerably more important than carpentry and property, which are more traditional industries. Pete found the higher the importance rating the more the company used social media and with this they tended to have a better understanding of why they were using social media.

The research also found a common theme between the companies. All of them said that they thought they didn’t have enough time to use social media. This would explain why four out of five of the companies felt they were not getting the full benefits from social media. Prioritising and appreciating what social media can do for new businesses would allow these companies to reach their expectations. They would then be able to create a social media strategy around their business objectives and subsequently understand the right social platforms to implement that strategy and maximise the benefits. Surely this suggests that companies should put time and effort into gaining an understanding of social media marketing and what it can achieve?

It was surprising that the property company questioned said they barely used social media, but instead hadn’t moved on from traditional media methods of posting adverts in local newspapers and magazines. Their reasoning behind this was that they believed they could get the right segment of the market reading their adverts in this way. This tells me that there is a real misunderstanding of the opportunities available to them through social media. For instance, they could use Facebook advertising to target a similar target audience with more accuracy. Facebook ads do have a cost but they allow the advertiser to be creative in the way they engage potential customers. If other property companies aren’t converting to the use of social media, then there is the potential for the company to become an industry social media leader.

Businesses should wake up and understand the potential available to them

The companies who take an amateur approach to social media, that feel it can be done sitting with your feet up, are going to struggle to keep up with those who strategically integrate social media into their business plan and objectives. It is time for businesses to wake up and understand the potential available to them. All five companies in this brief survey recognised that social media is important to them but most didn’t understand what social media can achieve and the possibilities it offers. What they don’t understand, they won’t use.

Check out next week’s final blog in Pete’s social media and new business series. It will look at ways these five companies could improve their online social media presence and how companies can learn from the recruitment company questioned.

© Martina Rathgens  “View” Photo. Attribution 2.0 Generic

© Meddy Garnet  “Feet up” Photo. Attribution 2.0 Generic

Images courtesy of and via Flickr

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