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QCA Bootcamp Insights: Social Media

(EDITOR’S NOTE: As mentioned in Tuesday’s feature article about the recent visit of the top leaders and others from Queen City Angels to Knoxville and the “Entrepreneurship Bootcamp” that the organization conducted, this is an article that summarizes advice offered to local entrepreneurs during the session.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Mike Halloran told attendees at the recent “Entrepreneurship Bootcamp” that Queen City Angels (QCA) conducted in Knoxville (see Tuesday’s teknovation.biz feature article here) that he had experienced a four-stage career. That includes 10 years as a Marketing Director and Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble, other consulting and marketing roles, several start-ups, and now a Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Xavier University since August 2017.

“I’m here to help entrepreneurs,” he said, adding, “I’m 100 miles wide and six inches deep.

During his presentation about social media, Halloran reviewed various platform options that start-up entrepreneurs should consider and started his comments by offering this key advice: “Focus on one or two key platforms, then build a plan. Finally, learn and iterate.”

Why should start-ups have a social media presence? The answer seems obvious. Thirty-seven percent of customers said that social media played a key role in their buying decisions. Social media: (1) improves brand awareness; (2) establishes a brand voice and personality; (3) builds a company’s reputation; (4) drives traffic to the start-up’s website; (5) generates leads; (6) improves sales; (7) creates more loyalty; (8) helps secure market insights; (9) improves search rankings; and (10) is cost-effective.

So, which one is right for each entrepreneur? My takeaway was it depends to a certain extent, and Halloran offered these insights about the options.

  • LinkedIn – Ninety-five percent of business-to-business (B2B) marketers use it. The primary age of users is 30 to 49. It’s a great option to post content and secure followers. Halloran said those who successfully use LinkedIn: (1) find the right people and connect with them; (2) plan their posts carefully; and (3) know that content is king, suggesting posts on topics that address “how to,” “future of,” “you need to,” and “why you should.” He suggested that Dell had a great LinkedIn presence.
  • Twitter – Saying that it is “outstanding as a customer service presence,” Halloran said that some people spend more time on it that it is worth. The age of Twitter’s core demographic is 18 to 29. “One good way to use Twitter is to follow your competition,” he said.
  • Instagram – Halloran described it as promoting the concept that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Seventy-one percent of its users are under 35 years of age, and they skew heavily to females. “It is clearly great for B2C (business-to-consumer businesses),” he added, citing Tentsile as a good example.
  • Facebook – Describing it as the godfather of social media, Halloran noted that its original focus was on B2B but it is now primarily a tool for B2C. A good example is Zappos.
  • YouTube – “It’s a great place to do social media,” he said, particularly for B2B companies. The YouTube demographic is 18 to 42 year old individual. “Create a company presence and your own channel,” Halloran advised.

So, what are the key planning steps for a social media presence?

  • Define your brand which he suggested people should follow Simon Sinex, an author, speaker and podcaster known for popularizing the concept of “Why.”
  • Determine your selling message, then test and refine it, making sure to “speak to them (customers) in their language.”
  • Research the competition.
  • Create a high-level social media plan that includes goals and measure progress.
  • Build a content marketing strategy.
  • Build a distribution calendar.

Near the end of his presentation, Halloran amplified on the content elements. “Video is very, very powerful,” he noted. “When you use video on your social, your audience is 10 times more likely to engage with you.” Other options include leveraging trending topics to engage a start-up’s target audience, using podcasts, publishing eBooks, and offering giveaways and contests if the company is a B2C.

He concluded with this reminder: “Social media is low cost; it’s not free.”

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