Five social media growth techniques for start-ups

Over the last few days I have spent some time talking to a few start-up founders based in the UAE and KSA to learn more about how they have utilised social media to grow their businesses and gain a bigger audience.

I have had the opportunity to learn from Moussa Beidas, founder of Bridge App, a fintech start-up, Mona Attaya, founder of Mumzworld, and the founders of Siyanati, a Saudi maintenance marketplace app.

Here are some of the interesting growth hack techniques they use to grow their businesses.

Define objectives

Nothing beats focus at an early stage. When the start-up is bootstrapped and the founders’ priorities are to secure proof of concept, a clearly defined set of objectives is a must! From a marketing perspective, it is key to define the target audience and what is one best channel to reach them with.

What really helps is to always put ourselves in the customers’ shoes. What problem are we solving for our customers? Why should he or she click to buy? What message do we need to send him to compel them to take that action?

Start-ups are tempted to spread themselves too thin when it comes to marketing and outreach initiatives. However, our advice is to focus on the one thing that would help move the needle.

Produce shareable content

Shareable content will incline your customers to click and share it with their friends. Instead of focusing on the high frequency of content, insist on its quality and support it with some media spend to boost and enhance reach.

Another piece of advice is to focus your efforts on fewer channels rather than spreading yourself too thin between multiple social media platforms. Do one or two really well.

The advantage start-ups have today is that the size of their marketing budget doesn’t limit their potential. If a piece of content generates good traction, it can potentially go viral and achieve amazing marketing ROI.

Some of the key success factors that can increase the shareability of your content would be making it relevant to your audience, personalising it to target a specific audience, factoring timely content in timely trends and insights and, of course, executing it creatively

Following this formula will surprise you in terms of traction and its viral spread.

Build a network of advocates and influencers

Surrounding yourself with a network of advocates and influencers who can share your content and promote your start-up brand is key to your growth.

The trick is to select the right profile of advocates, those who represent your target audience and regularly provide them with something of value.

However, these power users are being approached by numerous brands so one has to approach them with a value proposition that money can’t buy.

A personal approach is what will allow you to stand out from the crowd.  Keep it personal, keep it real.

Mumzworld.com is a good example of a start-up that has built a network of advocates.

They have done so by reaching out to multiple tiers of influencers who are moms and who share the company’s vision of empowering mothers across the region.

Putting valuable content in their hands at the right time has amplified the reach of this brand.

How to optimise e-commerce and m-commerce start-ups

If you are an e-commerce start-up or an app where every US$1 spent on marketing counts, you need to have a clear growth strategy in place to optimise the budget.

Most start-ups are bootstrapped at the early stages of their journey which makes taking a strong lead generation and conversion approach early on in the start-up life very important.

When it comes to achieving mobile app downloads, we advise the following:

1. Tracking tools setup, including Facebook SDK Code, Google Mobile Analytics, and/or Apple App Analytics, is key to measure performance.

2. Mobile App marketing strategy should be based on keyword research (finding actual search terms that people enter into search engines relevant to your service/product and using them to achieve better search engine rankings), competitor analysis,  and updating App Store description

3. Advertising Recommendations, namely Facebook App Install Ads, Twitter App Install Ads, and/or Google App Install Ads.

A/B testing

Nothing comes easy and to figure out what works and what doesn’t you need to be mentally prepared to test different variations.

I would encourage testing different types of content, different times of publishing, different types of platforms advertising products.

“The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries elaborates more on the importance of A/B testing, regardless of whether it applies to your social media marketing or email marketing efforts. It allows you to optimise your results and ROI!

Build partnerships

Build an ecosystem of your partners. Reaching out to other brands that target your audience and complement your story can add value to your reach.

Ramzi Halaby is the co-founder and CEO of The Online Project.

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