So you have a fantastic idea for a startup and enough funds to create a minimal viable product to test it on the market? That’s great; you’re on your way to launching a potentially successful venture.

However, many startup owners forget how vital marketing is to the success of their product. After all, how else will your target audience learn about it without you putting in any resources into promotion?

Most of the time, founders have only enough funds to build an MVP and spread the news to acquire the first adopters. That’s why you need extra capital to spread the news about your product to a broader group of potential customers.

Here are 5 ways to help you find money for your startup’s first marketing campaign and take your business operation to the next level.

1. Friends and family

Financing your startup campaign thanks to resources coming from friends and family is one interesting option you should consider. Getting funded by people you know is rather simple because they already respect and trust you. Moreover, you can ask them for loans on favorable terms, and in some cases, you won’t even have to worry about interest.

Still, make sure that the deal is beneficial for them as well. You can offer them some dividend such as a share in the profits or revenue.

But don’t forget that raising funds for your marketing campaign from friends and family will not allow you to validate your product idea. After all, they might not know your industry and won’t be able to judge the value of your idea accurately.

2. Microloans & grants

Have you ever heard about microfinance? Microloans are small, short-term loan available to businesses that can be used as working capital or resource for your next marketing campaign. If you’re looking for a few thousand dollars, consider getting a microloan or government grants.

Microloans are subsidized loans by the state designated authority or nonprofit organizations. If your startup idea has been validated, you stand a chance at getting one to fund your marketing activities.

All you need to do is draft a business and marketing plan and get in touch with the organization responsible for giving out the loans or small grans. Even if you are sure that your application is strong, it’s always a good idea to ask for advice.

Research the opportunities available to businesses in your area and get in touch with the appropriate authorities to learn more about the application process and boost your chances of success. Start by checking out this list of the best microloans on the market.

3. Logbook loans

Logbook loans are a type of secure loans that work like a security bill of sale. In that type of transaction, borrowers transfer ownership of their car or another vehicle to the logbook lender as a security to secure the loan. While repaying the loan, the borrower keeps possession of the vehicle and can use it.

But until the loan is cleared, the formal ownership of the vehicle rests with the lender. If you’re based in the UK, logbook loans are an excellent option to raise funds for your marketing campaign because there exists a designated legal process to administer these loan to make them secure.

4. Crowdfunding

Another great option to kick off your startup idea is by sharing it on a crowdfunding platform. Crowdfunding means that you will be funding your campaign by raising contributions from a large number of Internet users.

This relatively new concept of alternative financing gained lots of popularity over the last years, and some claim that crowdfunding is on its way to surpassing venture capital funding as its size has reached $35 billion and constantly expanding.

Just consider the number of startup success stories we owe to the platform Kickstarter.

There are many ways in which you can benefit from crowdfunding – it can be reward-based or equity-based. Have a look on the web to find a crowdfunding platform and consider consulting and mediating company to make sure that you’re choosing a reliable funding partner. And before you set up a crowdfunding campaign, read the terms of your contract with the platform carefully. All that’s left is sharing the campaign as widely as possible on the web to reach lots of users.

5. Renting out extra space

If you’ve got some physical space you’re not using such as the garage, basement or a room at your office, don’t hesitate to advertise it on the sharing community sites to earn extra cash and fund your startup’s marketing campaign. That type of initiative will help you make the most of your resources, so advertise your space right now and start making money off it to add an extra boost to your marketing.

 

Use these 5 steps, and you will be on your way to securing funding for your marketing campaign and ensuring the efficient promotion of your products among your target audience.
 

Emma Lewis is a loving mother, a devoted wife and a part of the team supporting Spacer – a company helping you find storage space whenever you need it. Emma is also a staunch supporter of  the sharing economy and often mentions its benefits.


Several years ago, I penned a song entitled “Content” [kuh n-tent] that was all about being satisfied.  Everyone pronounced it “content” [kon-tent] and thought it was a placeholder for the actual title. It’s a little ironic actually. Is a musician every content with his or her pieces? Marketers, too, often find themselves asking this question often: am I content with my content?

Author and historian, A. Wyatt Tilby, first used the expression “content is king” in 1914. However, he wasn’t referring to copy, video or audio, but rather to being satisfied. We think of this as a positive thing today, but Tilby spoke of the British monarchy when content was a derivative of “constrained” or “contained.” So, for a royal, their content audience was captive. Literally.

So, how do you keep your audience’s captive attention? By taking innovative and fresh approaches that keep readers informed, entertained and empowered to do more in their daily lives. Here are five ways to know if you can be content with your content or if it is time to change:

1. You are excited for others to read it

This may seem obvious but if the content doesn’t excite you – as the subject matter expert – it isn’t the right approach or needs more work. No matter your profession, we are all called to write and persuade or inform others from time to time – be it a manager, coworker, customer, patient or client. For some, writing is all they do in their jobs, and it comes naturally. For others, it’s a dreaded task. The key is to find opportunities to write about subjects that excite you. When you do, it becomes easier to create content with which you can be content. You may need to stretch the boundaries of your writing comfort zone, and research for supporting sources. But in doing so, the content will be strengthened and ultimately, professional expertise will be heightened. Now, if that isn’t exciting, I don’t know what is.

The key is to find opportunities to write about subjects that excite you.

2. Ask a trusted, skeptical colleague to review

Before you hit “go live” on any piece of content, seek out your most trusted, skeptical colleague to give it a thorough review. He or she needn’t be an expert in the topic of the piece, but you do want their unbiased and honest opinion about the aesthetics, clarity, and audience-perceived value of your content. Does the headline grab the reader and pull them in? Is it true to the “meat” of the piece or is it simply click bait? The latter, while a heavily used tactic these days, can damage your credibility with your audience. Take in all feedback and make adjustments to your content to ensure your audience has the utmost opportunity to engage with, and derive meaningful takeaways.

3. The content has been active for more than three months

Now, let’s talk about the “lifespan” of an effective piece of content. Once you have your ad, whitepaper, blog or video “in the wild,” and your audiences are consuming it, you’ll want to consider how long to promote it. The duration may vary according to the traffic it gets and the resonance of its message with the intended audience. If the piece – whether being promoted via paid venues, or lives organically on your website – has been running for three months or more (or you can’t remember when it was changed), it is probably time for an update. The best way to remain content with your content is to ensure your audience doesn’t have a chance to get bored.

4. It has been seen by your core customers more than seven times

Closely tied to recommended lifespan of your content is the marketing “Rule of Seven,” which states that audiences need to see your content seven times to remember and/or take action on it. If the content is compelling, it can make an impact sooner than seven times. If the content is run-of-the-mill, it can be seen more before becoming redundant. If you’ve used the content in your rotation at least seven times, it’s a good practice to change the content before it becomes too familiar and easily tuned out.

5. The Call to Action is no longer effective

“Call to Action” (CTA) defines the desired behavior of the viewer: buy the product, watch this movie, or shop this store. Although it can be difficult, it is important to measure the results of your content based on your CTA. Pay attention to the messages your audiences are sending to you via the CTA: e.g., are they opening your emails; are they clicking the links; are they visiting your page to learn more; are they sharing or commenting on your content? These are all important indicators of message and content resonance. Monitoring the results of your CTA helps you understand if your CTA is compelling enough, or perhaps it is time to refresh the content.


To summarize, take a page out of modern marketing, whether you’re a marketing professional or not, so you can feel confident that your audience values your content. Remember to write about what excites you, seek out a trusted reviewer, keep content updated within the last three months, promote it seven times, and ensure the call to action is still driving results so you can be content with your content.

Jennifer Davis is a senior executive, industry presenter, business leader, mentor and volunteer. She is the vice president of marketing and product strategy for Planar Systems, a global leader in display and digital signage technology. More information about Jennifer is available at her website: http://atjenniferdavis.com/#homeinfo


There are so many ways to generate new business today: lead generators, complicated email CRMs, sales funnels capturing new leads followed by a series of emails driving them into your product ecosystem at the end.

Each of these platforms and processes are competing for your marketing dollar so that you can attract new customers. And when you are building these platforms, you are busy and feeling productive.

But is it actually the best use of your time and money? So often, we keep ourselves busy to avoid doing the things which will be more effective, albeit sometimes a little bit uncomfortable.

You have probably heard this before, but it is worth repeating. The easiest business to generate is from existing customers. I know it, you know it, but do we spend the energy on it we should? Recently I have been investing a bit more of my energy in this area and it has been quite rewarding and satisfying.

I’ve set myself some sales targets and with some advice from a friend who specialises in sales, I was reminded about this truth.

So these are the steps to generating more business the easy way:

Step 1

Generate a report from your accounting package based on customer and dollar spend over the last few years. In Xero you can select a period and how many of the those periods to compare to. I then imported this into Excel and sorted it by who had spent the most with me over this time. This means you start with the top 20 percent. The ones who are generating the most business. The valuable ones.

Step 2

Set yourself a goal of 5 -10 calls per week. So that’s only 1-2 calls per day. It’s not that difficult. But it can be the most profitable way to generate more business.

Step 3

Find a reason to get in touch. This can be tricky. You don’t want to be calling up a client to say, “Hey, we did some work together last year, do you have any work for me?” People don’t want to buy from someone who sounds desperate. So you need to connect with your customer in a friendly, confident manner. It’s okay if they know you are keeping in touch because of business, but don’t sound desperate about it.

Some ideas to consider here are:
1. Follow up on the service or product you provided them. Ask how is it is working for them. Be interested to know if they are getting value from it.

2. Share stories about other customers and what has worked for them. Pass it on to see if it might be useful.

3. Is there something you’ve seen or heard recently that might apply to their business? Knowing that you are thinking about them is a good thing, especially if it something that can help their business.

4. Are there some insights relevant to your industry that are worth sharing? As a video producer, I see more and more businesses embracing the power of video. So I rang one of my previous clients to see if they were making any changes to their communication strategy to embrace video as a more regular form of communication, given everyone else is doing it? Hopefully it gave them something to think about.

5. Is there someone you can refer to their business? If you network enough, you will meet plenty of people. Helping people connect is a great way to build a relationship.

Step 4

Keep going. Not everyone will be in the time or place to accept a call from you, so don’t get disheartened if occasionally they seem less than enthused. That’s okay, because what you will be pleased to find is that quite a few are more than happy to hear from you. I know when I receive calls from previous suppliers I respect the fact that they are being proactive, especially when it can be scary to make such calls.

Step 5

Use the phone and don’t resort to email. Ask yourself, are you more likely to engage with someone you know who calls you or with someone who emails you. Email is easy to dismiss. Making phone calls takes confidence and people respect confident people. Even if you don’t feel confident, you will be respected for faking it until you make it :)


Next time you are playing with some complex sales funnel platform, ask yourself if this will build your business, or whether it’s distracting you from making calls which are more likely to generate more business. Sometimes, the easy money is right in front of you!


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Nataša Bajić

Our interview begins, on this unusually warm September morning, with the bold clacking sound of a pair of black stilettos. We are about to meet Milica Dobrenov and Nataša Bajić, the co-founders of Four Dots, a multinational inbound marketing company, who walk into their office premises at 8 o’clock on the dot.

At the very first glance, they seem like an unlikely pair: one of them the epitome of sporty elegance, the other opting for a dress code straight from the pages of Vogue. Nevertheless, both have the same determined look in their eyes and a great big smile on their face, motivated to tackle a new workday. Without a moment to spare, we dive straight into the question and answer portion of our program.

You both look very fresh and awake, could you tell us your secret? Do you have an established pre-work morning routine?

Nataša: I have a one-year-old boy at home, who runs like a Swiss watch – he is up every morning at 6 a.m. sharp! He takes after me in that sense, as I, too, am an early riser. We never skip breakfast in our home, and since my husband somehow manages to get up even before I do, I have a meal waiting on the table. The three of us always get the chance to eat together in the morning and go through our schedules. The babysitting timetable, work, playtime – everything needs to run smoothly. I am happy to say that we function like a well-oiled machine.

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Milica Dobrenov

Milica: As I always say to my son, the early bird catches the worm. My family also gets up pretty early, one of the reasons being that I love helping my son get ready for kindergarten. My husband and I have a rule, we never let him leave the house before he finishes his breakfast. Even though I love preparing one for him, for me,  that first cup of coffee is what gets me going. I sip it slowly, while picking out my clothes, ironing and helping my son pack. I always drive him to kindergarten since it is on my way to work. There’s an amazing little bakery next door, which sells the most amazing bagels, so I make it a point to stop by. That way I arrive at the office a little before 8 and have my breakfast in the office while I go through my to-do list.

Was it challenging so far being a successful woman in the digital marketing industry?

Nataša: It’s interesting that you ask that. We haven’t really paid much attention to it, but when you come to think of it, it seems that a lot of new and emerging IT-related industries are in fact founded by men. Digital marketing is no different. Most influencers in our line of work are men, but we hope to see this change in the future.

Milica: …and we hope to be a big part of that change! Digital marketing is all about creativity and finding solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems – I don’t see why women wouldn’t be involved in the process. It’s no longer a man’s world out there, just look around – the CEOs of some of the most successful startups are women. And I think that I speak for both of us when I say that we love our job, and strive towards finding a good team of people who will be equally driven to contribute to our company’s stellar success.

Nataša: What we’re trying to say is that there aren’t any industry-specific challenges. It is something people encounter across all fields of business. We did have quite a few obstacles to overcome, but luckily, that’s all in the past. Our company has experienced a significant growth, so significant that we kept employing new teams of people at such short intervals that we were unable to predict the size of the office space we needed. As a result, we had to move a couple of times, which wasn’t an ideal situation, but the key is to stay calm and take it one day at a time. Every problem has a solution, you just have to be crafty enough to get there.

Was it difficult building such a successful startup in a country where digital marketing has not yet taken off?

Milica: Yes and no. On the plus side, it has enabled us to literally start our business from scratch. Also, there is one more fact many often forget to take into consideration – hard-working people!

Nataša: Definitely, I couldn’t be more proud of our team. But when it comes to attracting our first clients, we were focused on the the international market, as at the time, doing local SEO would have been quite risky and maybe we wouldn’t have had such a great success. For this reason, we decided to open offices around the world that would help us attract more international clients.

Milica: We are also doing our best to educate local companies on the importance of inbound marketing, hoping that in the future we can help more local businesses grow and achieve international success. That’s what we love about SEO – we’re able to help aspiring entrepreneurs from a wide range of industries. Serbia is still a developing country and is fairly unfamiliar with the concept of startups, but as we have already mentioned, we are hoping to see a change for the better.

We understand that your company is multinational – how do you cope with clients from different cultural backgrounds?

Milica: In business, the client comes first. That was our motto from the beginning and like in any other line of business, working with people has its challenges, but I would say that in our niche it’s definitely a bit more difficult to handle the variety of demands.

Nataša: I agree! We devise individual strategies for every new client, taking into consideration a number of things: the industry they operate in, the audience they are targeting, their country of origin and all of their specific requests.

Milica: Research is key. In order to achieve global success, it is important to acquire… Well, global knowledge. Familiarize yourself with different cultures, their customs, paying special attention to different markets and customer profiles. For example, a campaign that is hugely successful in the U.S. would not necessarily achieve the same level of success in Australia, or anywhere in Europe.

Nataša: Exactly, that’s why we always concentrate on accommodating our client’s individual needs. The fact is, we learn as we go and do our best to always be prepared for anything our clients throw our way.  That is one of the secrets of our success we are happy to share.

Is it possible to find balance between your personal and professional life? When do you draw the line and say that you’ve done enough for the day and it is time to focus on your family?

Milica: That’s a tough one. When you are at the head of a startup, it can at times be quite hard to find the ideal work/personal life balance. However, going into this venture, I made the decision that no matter what – family comes first.  

Nataša: I couldn’t agree more. We were really young when our careers began and we knew from the start what it takes to succeed, but at the same time I am not willing to sacrifice being a mother in the process. I knew I could do both and… well, I was right!

Milica: Luckily, we founded our company with two colleagues, Radomir Basta and Goran Bogunović, who have not only proven to be highly supportive of our plans for the future, but have always been fully dedicated to making all of our plans a reality. Hence the name Four Dots. Thanks to the strong relationships we have and a huge amount of understanding on all sides, we were able to take some time off when we had our boys, without having to worry whether our company will continue to thrive. You know, at the end of the day, it feels good to just get out of these heels and under the blanket, to spend an entire evening watching The Lion King for the 42nd time.

Any tips for women who are embarking on a startup journey? What were some of the major obstacles that you had to tackle?

Nataša: Don’t overthink it and don’t doubt yourself – just have faith in your idea and go for it. If  you start all negative and think about all the possible obstacles, there’s never going to be “the right time”.

Milica: Trust us, there’s no right time! It’s only natural to be afraid of how it’s going to affect your family life, because, let’s face it, it is more difficult for women to incorporate a family into their career path than it is for men to do the same.

Nataša: Finances are always one of the most common challenges. But no matter how often we hear it raised as an excuse, people keep forgetting that success doesn’t happen overnight! You wouldn’t believe the size of the apartment we started our company in (both laugh). I believe it was smaller than the office we are in right now!

As 9 o’clock approaches, the offices are filled with the sound of clanking coffee mugs and subtle keyboard tapping – another successful day at Four Dots has begun.

 

Sarah.Green is a tech journalist and blogger covering the latest trends in the world of technology and business. Interested in startups, business innovation and entrepreneurial ideas, Sarah looks for the writing inspiration in the great work of tech industry professionals.


Pitching to the media is not always easy, but there are ways to increase your chance of success.

An effective media release all comes down to research, preparation and a targeted pitch.

You’ll notice that last point I mentioned was a targeted pitch – this goes against the traditional approach of PR, but times have changed and therefore our approach needs to change too.

If you are a small-to-medium sized enterprise (SME) the media is likely not going to go out of their way to cover your story. So you have to do something to tip the balance in your favour. One way to do this is to make it as easy as possible for the journalist or editor to use your article.

An effective media release all comes down to research, preparation and a targeted pitch.

News is now a 24-hour cycle, which means media outlets are always on the lookout for content, but they also have an overwhelming workload. So it stands to reason that if you make their job easier by pitching something that is not only relevant to their audience, but clearly created just for them, you increase your chances of getting published. This is the exact opposite of the old-school approach, which is to create one press release and then mass-mail it to all the media outlets on your database.

Success of a press release is never guaranteed, but my below tips will hopefully give you an added boost.

1. Have an (actual) hook

The ‘hook’ is industry jargon for the subject matter of the press release that gets your attention. This can often be a hard one, because what you think is interesting a media outlet may not! So you have to step back and be objective when considering your hook. Media organisations want their article read – particularly online, because that increases their click through rates!

2. Write a killer heading

Whilst media outlets may change your heading, thinking creatively about your heading is the first step in getting your pitch email opened by the journalist or Editor. Like all of us, their inboxes are likely very full so you need to stand out from the crowd.  You may well have a different email subject line to your heading, but make sure both are interesting.

3. Ensure you have relevance to their target audience

I mentioned previously that mass-mailed press releases are an old-school approach to PR and not nearly as effective a personalised approach. The down-side is more time and effort from you, but the benefits should outweigh this, with you tipping the scales in your favour. You need to look at your media database and determine which ones are more likely to run your story. Then you can demonstrate your research by personalising your email to the media outlet. Include your contacts’ first name and the reason this article is suitable for their target audience.

4. Write using their style

This one is a little harder, but with a little research it is doable. Do they use first names for quotes or titled last names? How do they present date formats? How do they present their quotes? Do they have long or short headings?

5. Use a spokesperson

Providing quotes from a spokesperson within your article gives it some personality and authority. This is also a great way to get more subjective content included, as it is attributed to a person. When a journalist or editor runs your press release they want to be able to appear objective, therefore any flowery language will frequently be cut, unless it is said by someone else.

6. Provide an image that is pertinent to the article

These days the vast majority of articles have an image with them so it is in your best interest to provide an image. The best images are those that are original – so something you have had taken for your organisation. It could be a photograph of staff, or a product, a location, a publication, an event – the options are endless! Remember to always caption your image and attribute it to the photographer if required. If you don’t have something original another option is to use a stock image, but please take your time and pick something that is professional, has not been used a million times before and presents your company in the  best light.

 7. Provide logo files

When you provide your press release and photograph it is also a good idea to attach your logo as well. Online media outlets will sometimes include a logo at the base of their story – but even if they don’t at least they now have it on file.

 8. Include online links

Following on from the above, many media organisations will include link in the online version of your story. Provide all your online links, but also embed them as part of your media release, if appropriate.

And do you know the benefit of undertaking all of the above? You become an easy pitcher. What do I mean by this? I mean the editor, journalist or blogger likely had to put in a minimum of effort to run your article, so in future it is likely that your pitches will be looked upon favourably and they may even seek you out for comment or contributions.

There are never any assurances that your press release will get a run, but by following these tips you’ll definitely be on the right path!

 

HollyMartin_150x150px_Apr2016Holly Martin is a small business marketing dynamo! She breaks down marketing jargon and concepts so SME businesses can confidently take control of their marketing and make educated decisions. She is the Director of Just Holly and runs 6-week online marketing workshops for business owners, administration staff and marketing graduates.

You can connect with Holly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram or via her website.


With many social media platforms available to businesses at the moment, it can be difficult to figure out which ones are worth focusing on.

By identifying which platforms will generate the most engagement and conversions, you’ll be able to save huge amounts of time and resources. Rather than trying to maintain a consistent presence on every single platform out there, why not focus your time and energy on curating content and imagery for the ones that will serve your business best.

Here’s a breakdown of the top social platforms on the scene to help you figure out which social media platforms will boost your business.

Facebook

Description/How to use: Create a business page and regularly post images, videos & links that appeal to your target audience. Your Facebook business page is also an extension of your website, where you can share basic information such as address, contact number and telephone number.

Main audience: With over 1.44 billion active users across a wide demographic aged between 18 and 65+, Facebook is the market leader for social networking websites. Your business should undoubtedly have a presence on this platform.

Pros:

  • Good engagement – You and your users are able to ‘like’, post, comment and share posts as often as you want
  • Easy to share new products and services as well as provide basic information (such as contact number, address and opening hours)
  • Easy to post a wide range of content
  • Use of hashtags make it easy to spread your company message to an audience searching within Facebook

Cons:

  • Negative feedback on your business page is highly visible to other users
  • If your followers ‘like’ a large number of pages, your posts may get lost in the mix
  • Investing in paid advertising has become the most optimal way to gain exposure on Facebook. In other words, organic content is no longer cutting it – you need to have a paid advertising campaign to see results.

Summary: Facebook is a highly-effective platform to connect with your target audience and share products, services and other relevant pieces of content that will promote your brand and encourage loyalty from your customers. It also provides a useful platform to gain feedback from your customer base, whether they post on your wall or send you a private message.

Star Players: Skincare company Burt’s Bees Facebook page has an impressive 2.7 million fans and features, polls for market research, discount coupons, rich visual imagery and allows customers to purchase product directly from Facebook.

Twitter

Description/How to use: Create a Twitter handle and start tweeting to get involved in discussions that are relevant to your business and target audience. To encourage engagement, ‘reply to’, ‘favourite’, ‘retweet’ other users that are participating in the same discussions. Users are also able to post photos, graphics and video, however due to the 140 character limit, Twitter remains a text-focused social media platform.

Main Audience: The majority of Twitter users are aged between 18 and 29, making the platform suitable for companies skewered towards a younger crowd. Initially Twitter was utilised by a male-dominant user base, but in recent years there has been a sharp increase in female users.

Pros:

  • Great way to increase engagement as long as you tap into the right discussions that attract your target audience so that you can gradually build up a following
  • Your followers can easily ‘favourite’ and ‘retweet’ your posts, which will be visible to all of their followers and lead to high levels of engagement
  • Effective platform for companies with the time and resources to get their branding and messaging out there
  • A valuable customer service or tech support outlet allowing customer queries to be answered quickly

Cons:

  • For business’ with limited resources, constant Twitter activity may be difficult to achieve
  • While you can post pictures and videos, this will take up some of the 140 character limit, making it hard to fit in both media and text into one post
  • Think before you tweet! Negative tweets can spread very quickly and have unrepairable effects to your business

Summary: If you and your brand have a lot to say then Twitter is the perfect platform for you. Make sure you decide on your Twitter personality and develop a content calendar to ensure consistency.

Do you want to be funny? Informative? Controversial? The possibilities are endless, but at the end of the day your posts should fall in line with your company’s key messaging. You have the potential to gain a huge amount of followers (and customers) so make sure you come up with a rock-solid strategy before you start tweeting to your heart’s content.

Star Player: Etsy’s Twitter presence is a perfect example of how quality content keeps people coming back for more. The peer-to-peer e-commerce site specialising in handmade and vintage items does a great job of mixing up products they tweet about – not just targeted towards women. They also have a great sense of humour and often retweet followers when they’re mentioned.

Instagram

Description/How to use: Create an account and start posting images or videos that showcase your brand’s products and/or services. You can choose from a series of filters to enhance your images as well as use hashtags so that your content is easily searchable within Instagram. Instagram only allows users to post using mobile devices as it’s a social media platform that’s geared towards people on the go.

Main Audience: Instagram has a community of more than 300 million users and 60 million photos daily. More than half of Instagram users are aged between 18 and 29 years old, with the dominant gender being female (although not by much).

Pros:

  • A great platform to encourage followers to post their own images or videos of your products, which can then be re-purposed to use across other platforms (user-generated content)
  • The use of hashtags makes it easy to spread messaging to an audience searching within Instagram
  • Great for companies whose products are highly visual in nature, such as fitness, beauty and lifestyle brands
  • Brands can get creative with photos, videos, captions and hashtags to appeal to their target audience

Cons:

  • Not able to post links in individual posts (only in bio on the users main page)
  • Isn’t as effective for service-based businesses, although this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a presence on the platform.
  • Posts can only be made through a mobile service, not on a laptop or desktop, which may prove to be inconvenient for some

Summary: Instagram is the perfect platform for brands to communicate visually with their followers, which will in turn increase engagement, build loyalty and increase website traffic. Think of Instagram as a form of free advertising for your business, which can gain huge amounts of exposure if your strategy is done correctly.

Star Player: Fashion label Topshop’s Instagram account features a variety of different visual content that appeals directly to their target audience, such as products in diverse settings, behind the scenes imagery from fashion shoots and photos of customers and models wearing Topshop pieces.

LinkedIn

Description/How to use: Create a LinkedIn business page start building your profile. Make sure to include background information about the company (specialties, website, industry, company size etc). Start connecting with other businesses and individuals in your industry and post regular updates and pieces of content that will help distinguish yourself as an expert in your field. You and your employees should all have professional and up-to-date profiles as this has a direct effect on how the company is perceived.

Main Audience: Unlike most social media platforms, LinkedIn users are an older demographic, with the majority of users falling within the 30-49 age group. They are usually business professionals who are interested in growing and maintaining their network as well as accessing useful information and advice from key influencers in their industry.

Pros:

  • Once you publish a post, the content is available site wide, not only to your followers but to potential new customers or connections that could be of benefit
  • LinkedIn is segmented by industry, so you’ll naturally fall into your niche with like-minded peers that will appreciate your original/unique content.
  • A convenient place to share latest company news and updates as well as basic information, such as website url, contact number and address.

Cons:

  • LinkedIn’s audience is mainly skewed towards business professionals, making the platform unsuitable for companies targeting demographics such as stay-at-home mums and teenage boys.
  • Because of its discerning audience, it may take a bit longer than other platforms to establish yourself and your business as an influencer in your industry.

Summary: LinkedIn is the largest social media platform for business and your page serves as your company’s online calling card. It’s the perfect place to research company and people for employment recruiting, lead generation and job searches.

Star Player: Mashable has tons of content to share, which makes LinkedIn the perfect platform for the online media company. Although they publish a wide range of subjects on their website, the Mashable team sticks to more business-oriented topics to appeal to the professional demographic on LinkedIn. They regularly well-written, relevant content that generates high levels of engagement, such as ‘If ‘House of Cards’ characters used LinkedIn’.

Pinterest

Description/How to use: Sign up for an account and create different boards that are reflective of your business. For instance, a bridal company would create boards that focus on wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, venue inspiration, wedding favours etc. Now for the fun part! Start pinning items of interests from your own product line and other products that inspire. Don’t forget to repin posts from within Pinterest as well. The goal is to create a carefully-curated scrapbook for your brand.

Main Audience: Pinterest attracts a predominantly female-based audience who are interested in aesthetics, DIY, fashion, fitness, lifestyle and food.

Pros:

  • Each pin links back to the website it was ‘pinned’ from, which will increase referral traffic back to your website if you regularly pin your own products.
  • Pinning to specific boards will help you easily save and keep track of your content
  • When a user repins one of your posts, it is automatically shared to their followers

Cons:

  • Doesn’t lend itself well to service-based companies due to its visual nature
  • Targets a very specific audience – Pinterest users are made up of 85% females, of which 70% are under the age of 45.

Summary: If your social media strategy falls within the niche target audience that Pinterest appeals to, then it’s worth the time and effort to ‘pin’, ‘repin’ and ‘heart’ on a daily basis. However, if your main audience isn’t spending time on this platform, then it might be worth using your precious resources elsewhere.

Star Player: Pinterest ticks all the right boxes for Sephora as a social media platform: plenty of visual content to share, female target demographic and the perfect way to link back to their website product pages. Sephora’s Nailspotting board takes it a step further by encouraging Sephora community members to share nail designs, hence connecting to their customers and creating pins to their products at the same time.

Snapchat

Description/How to use: Once you sign up for a Snapchat account, you have the ability to post photos and videos (up to 10 seconds long) that will stay on a recipient’s device for 24 hours before it disappears.

Main Audience: Snapchat has increased dramatically in popular amongst the 13 and 34 year old demographic and is a great opportunity for businesses to create clever campaigns to reach their target audience.

Pros:

  • Snapchat generates 7+ billion video views daily, making it an ideal platform to increase brand exposure
  • Gives customers a ‘behind the scenes’, personal view of your business
  • Easy to include Snapchat scannable code on other marketing materials and social media platforms to allow users to add your business.

Cons:

  • If your target audience falls outside of the millennial demographic (13-34 year age group) it may not be worth the time to dedicate resources to regularly post video and imagery.
  • As more and more businesses get on board with Snapchat marketing, the potential for ‘spammy’ posts to increase will eliminate the personal and fun aspect of the platform.

Summary: If you’re looking for a fun and creative way to connect with your customer base then Snapchat may be perfect for your business – just make sure your target audience is frequenting this platform. Visual communication is becoming the driving force of engagement across all social media platform, so Snapchat is an obvious platform to get on board with.

Star Player: McDonald’s is well known for their high-profile ad campaigns, and the fast food giant uses Snapchat to give their followers a sneak peek into what goes on behind the scenes with their favourite celebrities and athletes, such as LeBron James. Connecting with their audience on a more personal level gives McDonald’s the opportunity to break away from the corporate angle they’re usually associated with.

 

kristine-bioKristine Stone is a copywriter at Sydney-based design agency Orion Creative. She’s obsessed with social media, blogging and keeping up with the latest digital marketing trends. A self-confessed word nerd, Kristine has experience writing about women’s lifestyle, bridal, technology, interior design and a wide range of other industries.