In this edition of our Let’s Talk Business guest blog we talk with Sam Stuchbury about social media hacks for startup businesses. Sam is the founder and creative director of independent, multi-award winning, creative agency and production company, Motion Sickness.

Why should I go on social media if I’m a startup business?  What is the point?

It’s one of the easiest, most efficient and cost-effective ways to get your business and brand out there at the beginning. When you’re starting it’s one of the easiest places that has the lowest barrier to entry, comparatively to something like a TV ad or an editorial.

Also, most of your competition is going to be there. The thing with social media is, it has levelled the playing field. It is now the fairest playing field for businesses out there. Smaller businesses can beat bigger businesses on social media if they are really smart with their content and creativity and how they use their money.

Should you be using more than one platform? If you do, should your content vary across your different platforms?

It definitely varies depending on what country you’re in. But if you’re in New Zealand I would say focus on fewer platforms, rather than too many and in New Zealand, for most businesses Facebook and Instagram are the key platforms. Sometimes LinkedIn can be good if it’s B to B stuff.

But the majority of the businesses we work with are doing really well on just Facebook and Instagram. It’s better to pick one or two platforms and do them really well, because otherwise you can end up spreading yourself too thin.

In terms of posting different content across different platforms, there are little idiosyncrasies across them. But the key thing, I would say, is if you’ve got a strong idea and good creativity, then you should be able to apply that same idea across your platforms and just tweak it accordingly.

How can you use social media for customer service?

There are a few different ways. When you are putting content out there, some of the most regular and personal conversation you will have with your brand are going to be through social media in the comments. So, I think by having good community management and responding to comments and messages you can actually build quite a good community with your customers.

And I think the way to build that customer service is always just to start the conversation. If people are commenting on your posts and you’re not replying to them, then they are not going to keep commenting. Make sure you engage.

What can you do to stand out from competitors on social media?

Finding a niche within social media is quite an important thing. The main thing with social media for people is you need to deliver value. So, if you’re putting out content, whatever that is, the people reading it need to get value out of it, whether it’s a skin care regime they can use if that’s your startup, or just something they can apply to their own lives.

How do I make what I put on social media look good? How do I make it engaging?

This can be tricky. One thing I always say is it always comes back to the idea. You can film or photograph something beautifully, but if it’s a bad idea in the beginning, it’s not going to work. Focus on the idea first and then figure out ways to execute that.

I’d also think about the platform as well. Think about where you are placing it, for example if you are shooting content for Instagram you are going to want to film in vertical so it fills up the whole screen, not landscape.

Another thing I will touch on is that copywriting is really important. The copywriting within your post and what supports your content is really key. Don’t be afraid to have personality, you don’t need to be super formal.

The last tip that I’d like to touch on, that we see a lot of startups not doing, is be willing to spend money on social media. What I mean by that is, actually placing ads on social.

What people don’t realise is when you are on social media organic reach is pretty much non-existent. If you have 1000 followers and you post something, probably less than 10 percent will see it.

So, the way you get your content in front of more people is to pay money to Facebook and Instagram. We often say that if you are a startup even committing to promoting every single post that you put out there for $30-$80 to the demographic of 18 to 34-year-olds that like such and such, makes a massive difference.