Recently, I have been talking to a number of start-ups about building a business from the ground up marketed through social channels. There is no question that it is easier to make two-way communications a part of the lifeblood of your organization if you are starting from scratch. It is probably one of the reasons that we are seeing larger organizations who are having such a hard time figuring out governance and structure when it comes to utilizing social.
If you are looking to build a company that embraces social, and you do not have a current client set, I think there are a few steps that you can take to make the process of “going viral” a realistic possibility.
1. Listen to what people in your target pool are saying – Most new companies have identified a pretty large set of individuals who can use their products or services. Understand who is actually using social channels first, and then figure out what resonates with that target audience.
If you are a service that provides access to “green” products, find out the largest set of people who are engaged on social media discussing similar topic areas. Let’s say that there a lot of people in many different demographics discussing “green”. Great, that’s an opportunity for future growth. But maybe mothers with young children take up over 60% of the conversation related to “green”. Well, start there, and see what they are looking for. When they talk about products, are the products for themselves or their children? Let’s say that they are talking about personal products for themselves (services, personal care, etc.)
2. Develop relationships/partnerships with companies who provide these items – If you want to reach mothers who are looking for “green” personal products, you want to have products and partnerships with your service that resonate with this group. Perhaps, you go after local businesses in your region that provide these products. Build up a portfolio of as many companies in perhaps Ohio who provide green products. Most businesses are happy to be included as part of new channels to get their product to market, so work on creating this first.
3. Engage with your target audience - Once you have set up adequate relationships to make it worth the while of mothers to start talking about your product and how you can provide local “green” personal products to mothers, get the word out. Tell bloggers that your service provides access to over X different companies in the Ohio area who deliver the products that their audience is looking for. If you are providing value, these individuals will help to spread awareness of your service.
I think a lot of new businesses are thinking about social in the back of their minds, but they are not thinking about how they can build their business to strategically utilize social and current discussions. In this example, if you simply build partnerships with all “green” businesses without focus (personal hygiene, solar equipment, restaurants, etc.), you may just not resonate with any specific group. And then it can be a long hard road to readjusting your vision, as you subsequently see where the interest is coming from.