Social Media Tips for Start-Ups [Guest Post]

Social media marketing is hailed as one of the best ways to promote a start up. It is cheap, relatively easy and pretty effective in helping a company establish its own identity and brand. While there are certainly many benefits to social media marketing, truly benefiting from your efforts requires a certain level of skill and dedication. With the wrong approach, your social media presence could even harm your fledgling business.

These five tips will help any start-up make the most of this hectic time & leverage the power of social media for maximum benefits.

Focus Your Efforts

It seems that every day a new social media platform launches and claims it will be the next Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. This provides a mind-boggling number of options for you to try with your social media efforts. While exposure is a good thing, spreading yourself out too thin is not. Pick a platform that works best for your business. B2B start-ups could consider LinkedIn. Targeting a younger audience, consider Twitter.

Are you a local business? Facebook offers plenty of tools to expand your subscriber base by location. By limiting the number of platforms that you are tracking, you can invest real time and effort for your start-up. This can also help to avoid mistakes as you get accustomed to the platform and social media marketing.

Be Interactive

In many cases, the ultimate goal of social media marketing is to increase exposure, drive traffic and create leads. This leads to some misconceptions on how to use the platform. Simply promoting yourself everywhere you can will only find a small level of success. The true power in social media lies in building relationships, establishing authority & offering benefits to subscribers. The first step in this is actually interacting with your subscribers. Every little interaction, from thanking them for reading or sharing one of your posts, to responding to questions helps to build a relationship for your brand. This is also the best way to keep track of what readers and users are saying about your company and an integral part of brand management.

Establish Authority

Anyone can create a social media account and post about how great their own products or services are. In fact, you will see a large amount of this. However, this is just a basic implementation of the platform. As a startup, you should be establishing authority in your field and building your subscriber base. A great way to do this is to find other relevant social media accounts, blogs, sites and services and mention them on your social media feeds. By establishing authority, followers will be more likely to trust your suggestions, look at your links and come to you for products, services and information.

Participate Regularly

Frequent interaction with your social media accounts is essential to success. Try to set aside a few minutes each day to dedicate to finding new targeted subscribers, posting new content and communicating with your existing base. If you have trouble updating your social media during appropriate hours, simple use a scheduling service, such as HootSuite for Twitter or Buffer. If you use scheduled posting applications, be sure to keep each post unique and check back in periodically to interact with and respond to anyone who mentioned the post.

Test, Analyze and Improve

There is no guaranteed formula to social media success. It all depends on your market, your business and your investment. Certain tactics may work great for a competitor but fail for you. Track interactions, clicks and other important stats on your social media campaigns from the start. Though they make take a little time to provide useful information, you do not have to worry about not having access to the information should you need it. From the time you post to headlines and hashtags, any little detail could be the difference between social media obscurity and viral success. Do not be afraid to try new tactics. With your analytics behind you it, it is hard to go wrong.

One last bonus tip is to keep your brand’s messaging consistent. This requires some discipline in brand management and not veering off into every new trend that pops up on the Web. In this case, your Brand will send a mixed message to your audience members, hurting your chance for properly positioning your company in their minds as solution for a specific problem — one of the basic principles of branding and marketing.

About the Author

Steven Anderson has been writing about brand management and marketing solutions for nearly a decade. Visit Cloverleaf Innovation to learn more.

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Building a Stronger Brand Identity for your Startup [Guest Post]

Though there are plenty of things to worry about during the start-up phase of any business, there are few things as important as brand creation and management. Whether you are securing investors or building your customer base, your brand is often one of the major determining factors in your success.

The following tips and tricks are great ways for your start-up to establish & build a brand:

Understand the Many Facets of Your Brand
Many start-ups get lost in the act of brand building and fail to realize just how detailed the process can be. The end result is a weak brand. Brand building and management is not just about everyone sees your brand. It is about how investors, employees, customers and partners see your business individually. Though positive aspects for each group tend to offer some benefit to others, building a truly strong brand is about focusing on each specific group and showing them exactly how your start-up is the best target for their money, time and trust. By monitoring and building your brand from each perspective, you can ensure that your brand is solid, stable and strong.

Research Your Market to Help Establish Your Brand
With the competitive nature of a globalized economy, market research is more important than ever. Establish a demographic & market and build your brand from there. Knowing your market makes establishing value and building your brand much easier. This also ensures that other parts of your brand, such as the name, logo and advertising, are honed easily to fit your market for improved results in your start-up efforts. Each of these factors can impact the success of your start-up. It is also much harder to alter many of these smaller aspects once the business is established. By researching before and during the start-up phase of your business, you position it for long-term success.

Embrace Your Brand
You can ask anyone what they feel makes the brand of a large corporation or business and get many answers in return. It is easy to promote a brand after it is created. However, establishing a brand in a start-up is very different. Most start-ups have only a few employees. This means that everyone should be embracing and living the brand of the company. When so few people are involved, every action you take reflect directly back on your start-up and could help or hurt its success. If you are living your brand and integrating into your practices, partners and eventually employees will be more likely to adopt your stance as well. This makes brand management and promotion easier in later stages of the business. The opposite is also true. If you live in opposition to your brand, your employees, investors and customers will be the first to notice and point it out to others.

Build Your Brand from the Beginning
Every second that a business delays in building its brand it is risking failure. Branding is not a process that requires substantial investments or dedicated professional services. Branding should start at the conception. This means that it should be an integral part of the start-up process. Branding establishes a number of things, ranging from your target market to your potential competition. This makes it one of the most crucial yet overlooked aspects of the start-up process. By establishing your brand early, you are defining the value and benefits that your start-up will offer consumers, investors and other entities. While making money is important for any business to succeed, creating value and establishing a market are two major keys to long-term success.

In summary, know what you are trying to convey with the brand, do the market research to know what your target audience will respond to, and don’t delay in executing — just do it !!!

About the Author

Eric Armstrong is a marketing professional specializing in qualitative market research.

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Some more interesting articles on “Brand Building” can be found here

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Success Story of MakeMyTrip [Guest Post]

Gone are the days when we had to stand in queues for booking train/bus or even Flight tickets. With the rise of OTA, it has not only become convenient for customers to book tickets but also get great discounts on them. Today we have an article by Rohit who works for  Coupon Lava & his awesome customer experience with MMT gave rise to this article where he touches upon “The success of MakeMyTrip”. He can be reached on Google+

Initial Days of MakeMyTrip

Many might think that MakeMyTrip [ henceforth referred as MMT ]is yet another website founded in the early 2010′s. But it is certainly not so. MMT became the traditional online travel-booking site of India a few years ago. It was founded on the 1st of April in 2000 by Deep Kalra, a successful agency businessman from Haryana. The website was almost untouched till 2002 and then, advertisements triggered a revolution in the field of tours and travels. MMT is funded by Helion Ventures, Sierra Ventures and SAIF Partners and the amount is nearly Rs. 13,000,000.

Sweet taste of Success

According to some official surveys and accounts of the Indian Airspace, it was inferred that nearly 1/12th of all the domestic flight bookings was done using this website in the year 2009. Initially, MMT was just an intermediate between the passengers and the ticket counters for air travel. Subsequently, as time moved on, the website experts and the IT technicians decided to boost the privileges and started online booking for railway trains, registered government bus services and international airways.

After 2005’s incredible success, the developers started focusing on e-tickets. Today, the e-ticket is processed in less than 30 minutes and is immediately emailed to the concerned passenger. Bookings of domestic flights, international flights, hotels, packages like ‘flight plus hotel’, holidays, taxi cabs, private cars, bus and railways are the services offered by the company.

Some critiques and journalists say that online travel booking is totally unsafe as the discounts have no relevant roots behind them. The companies never tell the source of discount and subsidies. To curb this problem, MMT added trusted brand-ambassadors and increased the advertisement frequencies to let everyone know about their genuine and reliable methods of operation. Also, they have consistently provided great MakeMyTrip coupons which can be easily found at coupon websites like Coupon Lava, CouponCabin etc. Also, in the quest to provide economical travelling solutions to its customers, MMT launched the ‘Trip Rewards’. According to this deal, a passenger earns a certain number of reward points after (s)he books a relevant travel plan with the online mega-company. These reward points can be used as discounts for all the future transactions.

MMT is also one of the first Indian websites to accept online payments via PayPal.  The payments can be made via many accounts. More than 70 employees are engaged in website development, consumer support and customer relations.

The history, revolutionary development and the present success of this e-company is capable enough to make us believe in the bright future of this company.

If you had an awesome experience with any OTA, please share them in the comments section …

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33 tips for getting hired at a startup [Guest Post]

For many people, working at a startup is the holy grail of employment, and it’s not hard to understand why. You can get in on the ground floor, be a part of something exciting, and maybe even be a part of huge growth. That’s why it’s so cool to work for a startup, but that’s also why it’s so hard to actually get a job with one: everyone else wants to do it too. Competition is fierce, but with the right knowledge and approach, you can find a way to make the cut. Read on, and you’ll discover 33 insider tips that can help you land a coveted job at a hot startup.

Find a startup you love
Identify a startup you can really connect with, and the rest is easy. With the right fit, you’ll be better poised to connect with the startup’s culture, vision, goals, and needs.

Present yourself as an innovator
Startups are always ravenous for fresh and creative ideas. You can really stand out if you come to your interview prepared with ideas for growing and improving the business.

Show that you’re well-rounded
Do you have side projects that demonstrate your interest and passion for technology? Discuss what you’ve been working on and your dedication will be clear.

Identify what makes you unique and valuable
Getting a job means being a great salesperson, and every great salesperson knows you’ve got to have a unique selling point (USP). What’s yours? Be sure it’s the star of your resume and cover letter.

Engage in startup-related chatter
Check in on Quora and other great sites featuring startup discussions, and do your best to answer questions impressively. By being a part of the conversation, you just might catch the attention of a startup that’s hiring.

Don’t wait to see a job posting
Actual startup job postings may not show up for quite some time, especially among those in the early stage. Rather than waiting to see if they’ll pop up, get engaged with the startup early on to express your interest.

Go big or go home
Go into the application process with the mindset of leaving it all on the table. Successful startup hires have created infographics, catchy slideshows, even interesting websites to stand out in the crowd.

Be flexible
Working at a startup isn’t like working at a 9 to 5, usually. You may have weird hours, unusual commitments, and strange tasks. Be willing to take them in stride and don’t be shocked when you’re asked how you’d feel about taking them on in the interview.

Just start working
One of Square’s earliest employees was initially denied an interview at the company. But he brushed it off and took it upon himself to acquire card readers and use them to sign up 10 new merchants for the service in one day. It’s a bold move, one that got him noticed, and hired, by the startup.

Say thank you
Sure, it’s impressive to create high tech, attention-getting media to woo your potential employer, and if you have the skills, by all means, do it. But startups are made up of regular people too, and everyone, yes, everyone appreciates a good, old-fashioned hand-written thank you note. Do this, and you’ll really stand out.

Fill multiple needs
Being great at one thing is impressive, but it’s much more likely to get you a job at a big company where they can afford to have one employee for one task. At a startup, needs tend to be much broader, as each employee is expected to take on a wide variety of tasks. Show that you can contribute with a wide skill set that fills multiple needs.

Know everything there is to know
Don’t just check out the company’s website a few hours before your interview. Really spend time getting to know what the startup is all about. Do extensive research, connect with their social media outlets, and learn about their development. Go beyond the surface so that you’ll be able to stand out as knowledgeable and intensely interested in what the startup stands for.

Don’t try to share any BS
Entrepreneurs tend to have great BS detectors. Don’t give them a reason to lose faith in you by trying to feed them any. If you don’t know the answer, own up to it and offer to find out and follow up with them.

Be a part of the community
Be visible in all the right circles. Attend meetups, hackathons, and launch parties. Take the time to make connections and nurture your network. Connect with the right people, and it’s likely to lead you to a great startup job.

Be personal
Joining a small startup means lots of one on one time with the first people with boots on the ground. If you don’t click personally, chances are, you’re not getting hired. Do you fit in with the company’s culture? Get along with the founders? If you think you do, make sure that you let your personality shine through so they will recognize it as well.

Have your own questions
Be really impressive by showing that you’ve taken the time to contemplate what the startup is all about. Come to the interview with your own questions, ones beyond salary, hours, and benefits, that really demonstrate an understanding, appreciation, and willingness to explore the company.

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App Review: WeChat – The new way to connect …

There is no dearth of chat cum audio/video applications namely Nimbuzz, TalkBox, WhatsApp with WhatsApp being the most popular [at least in India :)], today we review an interesting app named WeChat. WeChat is a robust, fast-performing, 100% free mobile voice, video and text messaging application with the strength of over 200 million users worldwide. For doing the review, we downloaded the app for Android from here. In the review, we look into the features of WeChat & compare with it’s close competitor WhatsApp.

Gist of “WeChat”

As mentioned above, WeChat is a free voice, video & text messaging application. Among the many features that this app has, the friend-discovery location based social features and shared streaming photo feeds from friends’ personal photo albums are something which is very unique to this. The user has the option to add contacts who are using WeChat or invite/connect with users using a unique id called QQ ID

Key Features of “WeChat”

Some interesting features of the app are:

  1. Video/Voice Calling, Text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, photo/video sharing, location sharing, and contact information exchange.
  2. Offers engaging one-on-one and group chat sessions with an extensive range of animated and custom emoticon and emoji art. The user can beautify the chat’s with customizable backgrounds.
  3. Supports social networking via shared streaming content feeds and location-based social plug-ins [Shake & Look Around] to chat with and befriend local and international WeChat users.
  4. Shake: Exchange ‘contact information exchange’ with nearby WeChat users, or connect with WeChat users worldwide who are eager to make new friends. I tried the “Shake” feature & could find couple of users from Korea who were shaking their device at the same time. Don’t know how useful this feature this unless you have a handful number of known people using this feature simultaneously.
  5. Look Around: Connect with nearby WeChat community members who are also looking around. This feature is quite interesting since I could find couple of my “NearBy” friends who were using WeChat.

WeChat vis-a-vis WhatsApp

When I used WeChat, the obvious comparison that came to mind is WhatsApp. There are couple of features in WeChat which are interesting when compared to WhatsApp namely – Drift Bottle : Write a message or talk, put the message in a bottle, and throw it to the virtual sea. Soon or later a random person will take the bottle with your message & (s)he could reply to you or add you in his/her contact list. Though this feature looks interesting but just like the “Shake”  feature we could not find it usable !!!

Walkie-Talkie Feature : WeChat offers the “Walkie Talkie” feature where a person can easily talk by pressing the “Tap to Talk” button. Also, if the audio is not clear; the user has the option delete that particular chat transcript.

Contact Backup : With WeChat, user can also Backup the address book to QQ ID Website

One simple yet effective feature in WhatsApp is “Double Tick” which indicates that the other person has received the message or not & might be a good feature that can be taken by WeChat :) In India, WhatsApp has a wider adoption compared to WeChat & Reliance Communications offers unlimited access for GSM subscribers Apart from features, WeChat would need to focus on partnering with Telecom operators to increase it’s user base. There is already a shift happening to WeChat & we need to wait who wins the “Chat” race :)

This review is a part of the Sponsored Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com.

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About the author

Hey, Welcome to Himanshu's blog. Himanshu is a engineer, blogger, startupper & an aspiring entrepreneur from Bangalore, India. To know more about him, please visit this page.

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