There are few projects more invigorating than marketing a start-up like dsgnfix, an art and design discovery app. But using social media to promote a new company presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities that don't necessarily exist with established brands. Indeed, social is often a flashpoint for start-ups: look no further than Warby Parker and Lyft, whose robust social presences keep them on audience’s minds and encourage sharing with friends.

1. Create and deploy a solid brand identity.

Knowing what you’re going to say on social is only half the battle. The other half is knowing how to say it. Before you even write your first content calendar, you should be able to define your brand’s tone of voice with a set of four or five adjectives.

2. Focus on the platforms that make most sense for you.

Trying to be everything to everyone on every platform can be a recipe for brand schizophrenia, even where unlimited resources exist. As a start-up, spend some time thinking about which platforms work best given your product and audience. In art-centric dsgnfix’s case, focusing on visual platform Instagram has led to high engagement.

3. Activate your team and personal network.

There’s nothing wrong with a little grassroots marketing. Your brand’s team should all be following your start-up and sharing content from their accounts, and there’s a lot to be said for an email to professional contacts, friends and family asking them to support the growth of your start-up. Strength in numbers is a big deal early on -- when someone unaffiliated is deciding whether or not to follow you, a peek at your follower count will likely be the difference.

4. Find and reach out to influencers.

Once you’ve built your audience a bit and added tons of awesome content to your feeds, start reaching out to influencers in your vertical. For dsgnfix, this meant artists and designers of all stripes, as well as publications, museums, galleries and schools associated with the design community.

5. Make it easy for influencers and personal networks to help you.

A social media kit with a couple of suggested hashtags goes a long way. With dsgnfix, we provided these assets to the ambassadors and curators who populate the app with content, sparking engagement and spreading the word. (For more on this, click here.)

6. Publish a mix of original and curated content.

If your curated content comes from an influencer source with an @reply, double points. As for original content, feed your streams with creative product shots, pictures from launch events or blog posts. Remember, social is the place to introduce your start-up to the world: original content tells who you are, curated content shows who you belong among.


Lauren Mangiaforte is a social media manager at Obviously Social. Follow her on Twitter: @lbmforte.

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