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Organic social media for startups: Secrets to success

Nearly 60% of the world’s population uses social media, often for multiple hours per day. It’s no wonder that organizations want to be a part of the conversation. However, as platforms continue to grow and further monetize their offerings, it’s becoming harder for small businesses and startups to amplify their message organically. In fact, the organic reach for Facebook is often as little as 5% of your total following. You don’t have to be forced to pay to play. At DigitalOcean, we’ve been able to reach 4x our total following with one organic post using these tips! By creating genuinely engaging content, you can overcome numbers with quality, authentic connections.

Setting expectations

It’s important to set expectations around what organic social will accomplish for your business. Managing the expectations of your teammates and yourself will help you set realistic goals. ROI is not always a clear line on social media, and it’s important to remember that there are other marketing goals that eventually help contribute to conversions, even if it takes a little patience to get there.

Social media is great for:

  • Building love for your brand
  • Connecting with supporters, customers, and prospects
  • Cultivating quality relationships over quantity
  • Building credibility with consistency from your brand

Secrets to social media success

As you build the social media strategy for your business, setting a strong foundation for future growth and plans will be important to organically grow your social media presence. Businesses need to ensure that they outline appropriate strategies, refine metrics, optimize based on new insights, and maintain credibility with every decision.

Outline your strategy and redefine social media metrics

Consider your goals and what you want to achieve with social media channels. What are your overarching company goals, and how can you use social media to get there? It’s important to tie social goals to broader company initiatives.

From there, make a plan, a schedule, or a rubric. How often will you post? What kinds of posts do you want to try, and how will you define successful posts? Having a plan in place will help you filter out what’s working and not working and can help you draw lines with colleagues making requests for social posts.

Consider focusing less on vanity metrics—things like the number of followers, number of views, and follower growth—and more on measuring engagement. By tying success to metrics like the number of engagements, the number of clicks, and the number of website visits, you have a better understanding of what types of content capture the attention of your audience and entice them to take action.

Once you define success, keep repeating these metrics to stakeholders. Educate others on social media’s impact on the business beyond the channels themselves. Some of social media’s magic does lie in the “billboard effect,” which is hard to quantify, but other metrics can be measured. Define measurable metrics as clearly as you can.

Optimize every step of the way

As you track success metrics, you can start to plan your content based on anticipated performance. Start tracking the differences in the audience on each channel. What do they react to? What do they dislike? At DigitalOcean, we discovered that open-ended questions work really well on Twitter. When we tried the same tactic on LinkedIn, it wasn’t as successful. Trying a variety of content and documenting what’s successful is the best way to learn about your audience.

Social media shouldn’t be treated as a megaphone. Content should be thoughtfully curated for social channels. Speak to the ones that care about what you want to say because speaking to everyone often results in speaking to no one.

Feel empowered to set boundaries with what goes on your social channels. Not everything needs social promotion. If you’re the channel manager, you’re the expert. Posting content that you know won’t work will affect overall channel performance. Communicate that with stakeholders and be selective and strategic about your organization’s posts. Use the data and insights you’ve collected as your guide to how a post will perform.

Maintain credibility

Building a brand requires time and effort. There’s no shortcut, and trying to find ways to make organic growth happen faster can ultimately harm your brand. Authenticity is incredibly important to brand loyalty. Root your intentions in your brand’s values, and stick to those values as you build your social media presence. At DigitalOcean, one of our core values is love. We try to convey love with everything we do on social media.

Post with the intention of adding value to the community. Add something to the conversation, whether you’re using a fun, interactive poll, educational materials, or another form of content; bringing authentic value to the space is necessary to building trust in your brand.

Bonus tip: remember we’re all human

Mistakes will be made. Social media is a gift that allows us to connect with many different people, but remember that you can’t please everyone. Being transparent, authentic, and providing a solution when we make mistakes is the best way forward.

When you’re working with social media, you’re putting yourself and your brand out there for people to react to. People will have opinions. It’s important to remember that, whether we’re the customer of a company or the person behind the channels at a small business or startup, behind the screen, there’s a living, breathing human being with emotions and their own challenges in life. Try and humanize your interactions.

Remember that you’re only human, so take the time you need to protect your peace. Taking care of your wellbeing will allow you to bring the authentic love that your brand needs to find success in the space. The things that we post on social media are evergreen. It’s important to speak with kindness as often as we can. Take the time to understand what brings you peace—whether it’s a quick stretch, a walk outside, or a sip of tea—because eventually (inevitably), difficult conversations will come up on social media. And you’ll be mentally prepared for it.

Grow with us

DigitialOcean supports builders of all kinds through our global startup program, Hatch. Or you can get started yourself through our simple self-serve platform. Learn how you can build and grow your startup with simple infrastructure solutions like Droplets and App Platform. To sign up for a DigitalOcean account, click here.

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