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How to grow your startup using social media – Adele Barlow

My name’s Adele and I run Step One (we make websites for startups), and help organisations with their social media. We blog here.

I’ll be at the Escape the City London Meetup tonight, along with Alex O’Byrne and Chris Mooney – Alex is fantastic to talk to about development, apps, and escaping the city, and Chris is great to talk to about strategy and financing.

I’d love to talk to you about social media and taking an idea to prototype stage using the web (WordPress, Facebook, etc) – below are some things I often find myself talking with clients about.

You want to grow your business, increase your Facebook fans, etc?

Join the club.

When people think about ‘improving how they do social media’, they jump straight to thinking – methods.

Pay per click? SEO? What techniques will lead to growing the fan base?

This is like a high school student asking, “How do I become popular?” Or a guy asking, “How do I get that girl to become my girlfriend?”

The answer is not: wear this, say that, do that – it’s not about changing behavioural techniques.

When you question how to get more blog subscribers or ‘Likes’ on Facebook, what you’re really asking is: how do you change the power dynamic to be more in your favour?

You’re wondering how you get more Net Promoters.

“Promoters” are loyal enthusiasts who keep buying from a company and urge their friends to do the same – the key metric when it comes to gauging the efficiency of a company’s growth engine, as Fred Reichheld talks about in his bestseller published by the Harvard Business School Press.

Improving social media means growing Net Promoters; growing Net Promoters means making your customer’s lives better; making it easy for them to tell their friends about it.

1. Start with Why: ‘the Golden Circle’

Everyone knows what they do. Some know how they do it. Few people know WHY.

Know why you exist as a product or service. You do X.

So, who cares? Why? How are you making peoples’ lives better?

It’s hard to articulate in ten words or less. Simon Sinek’s TED talk on the topic is here.

2. Use that to clarify the brand.

The Brand Gap

3. Translate that into a ladder of engagement.

This means that you segment user interest levels down different engagement pathways (e.g. you might have a Vimeo video that the ‘kinda-interested’ can watch.

This leads to people ‘liking’ it on Facebook if they’re really keen. The super-keen can join your email list or drop you a line).

All the touch points need to be integrated.

4. Underpin every interaction with authenticity…

Underpin every interaction with authenticity, transparency, and a narrative that people want to buy into.

Here are 5 social media disasters – here are some Facebook success stories.

Spot the difference.

It’s not about the tools, it’s about how the tools are being used, according to the culture and leadership of the organisation.

5. Do what you can, outsource what you can’t.

Some entrepreneurs think that they’re saving money by trying to build their own website or social media campaign – this depends on your tech skills, but I think opportunity cost in terms of your time is worth considering.

In summary:

Building a Facebook page or website is a fantastic way to gauge whether your business idea has traction.

I’m a big supporter of the Lean Startup movement – which talks about building a Minimum Viable Product.

Your Facebook page or website can be a pre-prototype to gauge early customer interest.

This quote sums it up: “Marketing in the 80s was all about the product, and then it moved into the “new marketing” era which was about “you deserve this car because you are amazing” and now we are in the era of “us marketing”. It’s not enough to just build a community – it’s like organising a party and you don’t have a plan.”

“Successful companies in social media act more like party planners, aggregators, and content providers than traditional advertiser.”

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If you want ‘better social media’ – throw a better online party. If you don’t know how, brainstorm with friends. If that doesn’t work, consider asking an expert – if you can’t afford to hire them, try approaching them with a revenue-share agreement of some kind.

Most of all, just keep experimenting until you find the results you’re looking for.

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[Thanks for a fantastic blog post Adele and for all your work in helping make tonight’s Meetup at Adam Street be such a success. Sorry we can’t be there but looking forward to many more! Rob, Dom and Mikey in New York]

  • Amy

    Hi Adele, Dom and Rob,

    Thanks for such a great post :) It’s one of the most useful one’s on social media I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot!) and the bit about throwing the best online party is probably the best advice I’ve read so far.

    Esc has been a massive source of inspiration for me to quit my job and start up on my own, you guys are my heroes – thank you!
    Amy x

    • http://www.escapethecity.org Rob

      Hey Amy,

      Thanks for such a nice note. I completely agree about Adele’s post – massively useful and the online party analogy is something that all of us building things online should be thinking about.

      Good luck with your start-up and keep us posted as to how it goes.

      All the best,

      Rob