How social media is changing the game for start-ups

[Editorial Notes: This post has been written by Achintya Gupta, who works as a brand manager at Kuliza, a social technology firm.]

Having sold and marketed social media for the past 2 years, I have realized the immense potential in this concept, especially for start-ups, SMEs and fast growing companies. And when I say ‘potential’ I don’t just mean potential as a business model but potential to market better, gain valuable PR, hire smart people and build a great network.
Social media has proved to be the most impactful tool for start-ups and SMEs to compete with bigger players in their markets even with immense marketing resource pressure. The concept that a great idea that can lead to meaningful conversation, will gain attention of people and get them to engage and connect with each other has proven to companies that they no longer need to worry about running after PR agencies, start-up reporters or high marketing costs but gain traction with smart content, engaging ideas and channel presence.

In this post I would like to discuss how some start-ups are solving some of their major challenges like lead generation, building a brand on thought leadership and knowledge creation through social media:

Lead Generation

I really admire the way Hubspot (a Sequoia and Google Ventures funded inbound marketing company) markets itself. The company has a very active Facebook page that they use very smartly for lead generation. You will see a very good pipe line management by Hubspot where it uses its webinars to bring people to the Facebook page, engages them through conversations about inbound marketing and finally upon ‘liking’ the page, takes them to a lead generation form where presently one can download a webinar on ‘marketing through Facebook’ in exchange of contact

I found this type of lead generation tactic more methodological than the more known lead generation tactics through engagement on Twitter and Forums. However if you want to know more about these, here is an interesting article which you can use.

Thought Leadership

Another  impactful way social media can help start-ups and SMEs to get attention of its target audience and acquire the ‘field expert positioning’ in their mind, is the way it can be used for thought leadership through tools like blogs, webinars, Twitter, Quora and forums etc. David Ogilvy, in his book, ‘Ogilvy on advertising’, mentions that their own advertising campaigns used to be page long articles about teaching other people, how to advertise better. Today social media gives you a publishing platform to do this without an advertising campaign. The reason why start-ups can give a tough fight to established organizations in the thought leadership battle is lack of hierarchies, bubbling passion for the field of work, an easy manageable content flow and social media policy.

Adaptive path (a US based user experience design and consulting firm) uses social media very impressively for thought leadership. They use their blog (called ‘ideas’) for sharing ideas or topics like experience design, user research, interaction design, game mechanics etc. I see a lot of people blogging in this 40 people company. Their Twitter channel is used for promoting blogs, events and related industry news. Hubspot too uses its marketing blog and inbound marketing community as channels to showcase its thought leadership in inbound marketing areas

Knowledge creation for industry

Gathering knowledge and relevant resources can be a huge time and effort investment for start-ups and small companies. Never the less, certain businesses thrive upon such knowledge and information which are critical for their business

There is an increasing trend by such companies towards open research which is knowledge creation on an open source model. Altimeter group (a research based advisory firm focussing on emerging technologies) has a Social Media Resources wiki where people collaborate on information on social media agencies, consultants in the space, social media boutiques, interactive marketing agencies etc. Daachis Group’s social software wiki is another brilliant effort in this space.

Hope this post would help start-ups in rethinking how they can leverage this fascinating medium for their business better. Do let me know how your company uses social media for promoting its business.

[This post has been written by Achintya Gupta. Achintya works as a brand manager at Kuliza – A Bangalore based social technology firm. You can read more of his posts on the Kuliza Blog]

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