Despite whispers of bubbles about to burst in Silicon Valley, the start-up tech industry continues to boom. Crowdfunding sources such as Seedrs and Crowdcube are helping cultivate an ecosystem of new businesses, and we’re seeing a plethora of disruptive consumer models materialise and thrive.

Social media is being used to help fertilise this ecosystem, and, without wanting to overstate the gardening analogy – it can make it flourish too. We regularly witness a strong intuition from B2C startups that they should be on social media, but their rationale for it is harder to define. In many cases, the potential of social media is being under-appreciated or expectations are misguided. The fact is, there isn’t enough understanding about the positive power of social media.

“Professional expertise in social media can be priceless for a blossoming tech startup company.”

Social media can successfully move a startup business forwards either before or after funding. Our biggest tip? Make sure that your social media tactics are dynamic and responsive, and your methods (content, engagement and targeting) are tailored to the short, medium, and long-term goals of the company.

Professional expertise in social media can be priceless for a blossoming tech startup company. In this blog, we review ways social media can be used by a tech startup before investment. In our next blog, we’ll explore social post-investment.

It’s never too early to start Tweeting

There is a popular misconception that social media only comes into its own once a company is up and running. The common view is that an online social profile is only of value when consumers are in a position to use the company’s services in earnest and when the business is experiencing a degree of success. This is a myth. In fact, for B2C tech startups, this line of thinking can be costly – social media can after all be a real asset in furthering the interests of a young company at any stage on the business development journey. The key is executing the right social media tactics at the right stage.

Before a startup succeeds in raising any form of initial capital, whether seed stage or angel stage, they’ll be shaping their product or service by listening to feedback. If they’ve tested the business model on consumers, they’ll be looking at results to see what does and doesn’t resonate. Social media can play a key role in this process. It can be used to reach out to the Press for publicity and maintain relationships with journalists before and after launch. Social media businesses such as Thank Social use careful targeting and content techniques to pinpoint influencers and encourage them to follow the new startup.

“Alongside our honey coated social content, we very gently pre-soft launched the product, building a sense of anticipation”

One startup client of ours designed and created a physical device for adding bubbles to drinks. The product itself was a high design, luxury item aimed at specific age demographics that varied between male and female. The female demographic largely had families and the male demographics were younger, medium to high-income earners. During the crowdfunding investment stage of this project, our objective was to pull in relevant followers from this demographic by producing a ‘honeypot’ of relevant content, including in-house designed drinks ‘recipe cards’ for both cocktails and healthy family drinks. Alongside our honey coated social content, we very gently pre-soft-launched the product, building a sense of anticipation, and reaching out to online retailers and of course relevant journalists. By the time the product was ready to launch, we already had an engaged relevant following, ready to try out the product. We achieved similar with a new, online music streaming app as well as a novel app for instant gifting.

There are plenty of good reasons to invest time and effort into creating a responsive and dynamic social audience, whatever your platform. A lively social stream can present your company as being more advanced than it actually is, and in doing so, successfully provide a glimpse of what’s to come. By presenting your proposition publicly this way before trading, prospective investors will also be watching to assess whether your skills are rounded, commercial and viable. It’s an opportunity to shine brightly.

Use social to reach out pre-funding

For these and other reasons, organisations seeking crowdsourced funding are active on social media. Social media enables a business to talk to prospective clients and engage with authorities in their space. This can be invaluable for shaping and iterating a company’s proposition – through engagement, publicity, and feedback. We’ve used social media for startup clients to help build a sense of excitement for the service, even before launch. Many like the intrigue of a new startup in stealth mode. We target influencers and prospective customers, subtly asserting a business authority in the social space via research and sharing of relevant news.

“… don’t discourage your audience by showing content they’ve already seen. They want to know what you’ve achieved and where you’re going.”

We sometimes see new startups reaching out to prospective investors using Twitter. However, our experience shows this to be ineffective when blatant – our previous blog explored the problems of using social media as an acquisition tool, and this equally applies to the acquisition of investors. People who have followed your company Twitter account or ‘liked’ your Facebook account are interested in your prospective business operationally. They don’t want to see a steady stream of repeated requests for funding or direct requests to use the new service. If someone has taken the time to become interested, don’t discourage them by showing them content they’ve already seen. At this stage, they want to know what you’ve achieved and where you’re going. Avoid using social media as an advertising model like Google Ads, where ad impressions are distributed across a demographic. If you repeat the same or irrelevant information, your followers will leave, and more than likely never return.

Clearly, social media can have a number of functions for a pre-funding tech startup, but there are three key actions you will need to take in order to use it to your best advantage:

1. Define the goals you hope to achieve through your chosen social media platform.

2. Take time thinking out and planning your social strategy.

3. Lay the foundations for your business’ future development.

In our blog next week, we’ll look at how your social media presence can be a central part of this future. The post-funding stage for a tech start up is critical; your social media strategy and associated tactics need to adapt to suit the new aims, resources, and constraints that you will encounter. Once again, professional knowledge and experience in the social media world are priceless.