Note: This series is a lighthearted take on startups, written by a guest author. This advice isn’t meant to be taken seriously.
By far the most important factor to whether or not your business is successful is your social media strategy. Companies run by old white people spend literally billions of dollars a year on people under the age of 25 to make sure they come up first on Google and getting Russell’s Taxidermy Services 75 likes on Facebook.
This is probably the only way to redress the balance between the baby boomers, who own everything and the younger generation who are in crippling student debt and unable to buy a house anywhere near civilization. We charge them exorbitant rates to do social media for their monolithic business models which really any half-enlightened hack with a mouse, a keyboard and the very vaguest of clues about online psychology could do. (There is no need to point out the irony of me posting my own blog as a vessel to carry this message).
So how do you run your social media to improve your business and make it cool? First of all, have a Goddamn website. Any company whose only website is a Facebook page is and should be avoided like the plague. It’s like a restaurant which doesn’t post its menu online. It’s like a Thai restaurant which is reticent to tell you what the meat in a dish is and simply say “light” or “dark.” It’s like economists who say negative growth, beautiful people who drive BMW’s but are single at 45, micro-brewery beer described as “hoppy,” anyone who shows you a 10 minute YouTube video and says it’s “hilarious”, films with Adam Sandler, self-help books, Winnipeg, talking about religion and politics, Jaden Smith’s Twitter, cooking any dish you need to buy 2 spices you’ve never heard of to make, reading online comments sections or companies that advertise on the radio. They are shit, avoid them.
Websites now are cheap and really not that hard to make cool; Wil Wheaton has his own fucking website for the love of Christ. There is no reason why you shouldn’t. The website is the hub of your social media strategy. Everything you do is designed to make people visit your website. So make it good. Have cool graphics, interesting effects, make it comprehensive but in bite size chunks. Easy to navigate but leave room to explore. Do not make it complicated for people to reach you or pay you. Put an e-mail, contact form or phone number right there front and center. There are bonus points available if you actually say what it is your fucking company does on the main page too. It’s 100% guaranteed that if you go to a website and it is not immediately obvious what they are selling, they are a shitty consultant firm. Don’t be like them; be cool. Have an awesome website and then drive people to it, drive them to it like they are over-tired vacationers and you are a local taxi driver about to charge them 5000 times what you would charge a local to take them the 1 km to their hotel.
First of all, have a LinkedIn account and pay whatever stupid, inane pointless, exorbitant fee they charge you to connect with people. LinkedIn in makes people think you’re serious and able to afford it. Everyone knows Facebook is free and LinkedIn costs money, use it and you look like you mean (small) business. Pick the most attractive of your team and have them pose for the picture for the company. If you don’t have any attractive people working for you hire someone really attractive to do a BS blog one day a month and post their picture. Looks are very important for a start-up. You can be ugly and successful but only if you’re brilliant. Assuming you are less-than-brilliant, hire attractive people. Connect the living shit out of people on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is good for not spamming people so people are usually pretty open to connecting on it so you can build a huge base of potential clients pretty quickly.
Facebook has the potential to be way more annoying. Your friends will almost certainly agree to like your page and then immediately unfollow you, so like Spiderman use your powers for good. People like working with companies who they think have a social conscience so find a charity your organization can support. NB people like animal charities more than people charities; the donkey sanctuary in the UK receives more donations than charities for abused women. Attend events that raise money for helpless animals and watch people flock to your beacon of philanthropy and in-no-way-cynical-or-shameless-high-roading. Use Facebook to show off all of the cool things your company does, at no point should you solicit, advertise or even mention business on Facebook.
Twitter – You can’t write anything profound in 140 characters so don’t try. Keep it short, enjoyable and twice a day…like bowel movements. (That was 130 characters…booya!)
Snapchat – Sure, maybe some 16 year olds would like a way to follow your start-up.
Instagram – This is another job for the attractive person at the office – having a sales meeting out somewhere, pick somewhere cool and post it. Most people in the real world can never really be bothered to go out and DO stuff, that just seems so exhausting. But doing business with a firm where attractive people go out and do things is probably the next best thing. Make them live vicariously through your company.
Pinterest – Absolutely. If your business in any way involves designing or creating things, then use this as a way to showcase your talents. People are on here for exactly that anyway so this can be the harbour for the industrial toxic waste dumping that is your display of very average talent.
Remember – most business these days are online or virtual so there is almost zero penalty for misleading people. You can lie about your office space/location, the attractiveness level of the people working for you, or even how “ethical” the source materials for your products are. You’re a start-up, the only people who care about the truth in your business are Government auditors, so go and play, and lie!