When we talk about marketing channels with early-stage founders, social media usually elicits some groans.
It makes sense. Founders are incredibly busy, and creating social content can feel forced, tedious, or worse, like shameless self-promotion. It’s also a long game that requires consistent effort before you start to reap the benefits. For the early-stage founder with a sense of urgency, it can be hard to justify prioritizing something without immediate, tangible results.
Despite all these things, having some sort of presence on social media is crucial. For most B2B founders, this means LinkedIn. Even if your buyers aren’t there, your investors and potential partners may be. If they see you have zero presence, they will wonder why. The good news is that you don’t need to write and post groundbreaking content everyday to engage with and grow your community.
In this post, we’ll talk about why social media is important for early-stage founders, why you should start doing it now, and how much (and what) you should actually be doing.
Why you should start yesterday
Creating and posting original content on LinkedIn can be incredibly valuable for early-stage startups. Building a community drives new connections, and these connections lead to demo requests and, eventually, actual revenue. These kinds of specialized communities and Dark Social (e.g. LinkedIn) have become one of the main resources for decision-makers when it comes to product recommendations. You want to be there and build your audience as early as possible.
And it’s not just about sales – having a robust community also connects you to potential investors, employees, and partners.
Every interaction on social media is a touchpoint that strengthens your connection to your audience. This could be posting your own original content, connecting with someone via direct message, joining an industry-related conversation by commenting on someone else’s post, or even just liking or sharing it. Eventually, when your audience thinks of your product category, they will think of you.
But building this kind of positive association takes time. In our experience it takes around 6-12 months of steady, strategic growth to build a robust community – which is why you should start now.
Don’t be impatient and sales-obsessed
When it comes to social media strategy, a common mistake we see founders make is posting content that is too blatantly sales-focused before building up engagement and credibility with their audience.
Think about how a product recommendation from someone you know holds infinitely more weight than an ad, and you’ll see why it makes sense to focus on building trust with your audience first.
To build trust and credibility, early-stage founders should focus on sharing posts that reflect their point of view and their personal (and professional) journey. This could mean giving your take on current trends or industry news, reflecting on lessons you’ve learned, or sharing your startup’s milestones. Founders are passionate people, and social is the perfect conduit to capture that.
At the same time, you don’t want to rely too heavily on posting personal content. Almost everything you post should be tied back to your startup and what you’re (eventually) trying to sell in some way. Ideally it’s something your audience finds useful and contains some sort of hook that encourages them to like, comment, or even share your post.
Some tactics for creating a hook:
- Feature a notable number or stat that catches attention.
- Post your opinion about something polarizing within your industry.
- Incorporate humor or a meme.
- The key to all of these ^ – think about what would make your ideal customer stop scrolling and read your post.
As we said earlier, building an engaged community takes time and consistency. If you jump the gun too early and only post veiled sales pitches with no hook, you won’t keep your audience’s attention for long.
Do small things that add up
The good news is that you don’t need to dedicate hours every day to creating original content. But you should at least start to form a habit around social media and maintain a bare minimum presence. Here’s what the ‘bare minimum’ looks like:
- Seek out new connections: platforms like LinkedIn prioritize posts from 1st degree connections. Don’t wait for people to come to you. Follow people in your industry who actively post interesting content.
- Like and comment on other people’s posts: at least once a week, spend 10-15 minutes scrolling through your feed and engaging with content that feels relevant to you and your startup. This is another way to build your presence and your connections.
- Fill out your profile: this one seems obvious but you’d be surprised how many startups have little to no information about their company and their product on their profile page. If you have a website, you (hopefully) have all the copy you need to do this.
- Post your own original content: as we said, you don’t need to do this everyday, but try to do it at least once or twice a month. Remember to think about building interest and credibility before becoming too sales-focused.
What makes social media unique among marketing channels is how interactive it can be. Don’t treat it like a one-way street; embrace the back-and-forth – it’s the secret sauce for success on these platforms. Once your audience gets to know you as a real person with a unique perspective and voice, they’re much more likely to open your email newsletter, sign up for your webinar, or click on the pitch about your startup.
The bottom line
Most early-stage founders have mixed feelings about social media. The grind of creating content can feel daunting, the long-term benefits far away. But even the most time-strapped founder needs to have some sort of presence on these platforms, especially LinkedIn. Luckily, you don’t need to create award-winning original content everyday to start building your community. Take advantage of the fact that social is an interactive channel and start engaging with your audience regularly.