Sandra Fathi is President and Founder of Affect.
Promoting a startup can seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t know where to start. Entrepreneurs need to get the word out about their business to potential investors, employees and, most importantly, customers. Here’s what startups need to know about where public relations and social media are headed in 2013, and how new business owners can leverage each of these trends to their advantage.
LinkedIn is the new Facebook.
More brands will leverage LinkedIn to monitor conversations and connect with customers and influencers. New and enhanced features on the site, such as its “endorse” capability (which employs the one-click validation of a Facebook “like”) and new profile and company page designs are encouraging users to spend more time building their personal brands with LinkedIn’s tools — especially in a difficult job market where millions of people are still looking for work. Companies, particularly those in the B2B arena, increasingly recognize its marketing potential. Finally, as adoption and activity on LinkedIn reach critical mass, journalists will spend more time using the platform for research, identifying sources and breaking stories.
Takeaway for startups — LinkedIn is an effective tool for maintaining your existing personal network online. It’s also a valuable public relations resource, especially for nascent companies — if you’re an entrepreneur, you are your business. Almost anyone looking for information about your new venture will probably search for you on LinkedIn. Complete your profile with detailed information about your background, skills and business — and update it frequently, as this will drive notifications to members of your network and keep you top-of-mind among your professional connections.
The reputable journalist is revived.
The proliferation of blogging and social media has increased the volume of online news and the speed at which it’s available, often at the expense of quality reporting. Misinformation and rumors can spread quickly and trigger considerable backlash, especially when a news organization compromises accuracy in the name of speed (as evidenced by CNN and Fox News’s memorable misreporting of the Supreme Court ruling on healthcare reform). The citizen journalist’s 15 minutes of fame are running out and information-overloaded consumers will demand a higher standard of reporting in 2013.
Takeaway for startups — Media audiences are looking for quality content, so cultivate relationships with respected reporters and publications relevant to your target audiences. Read their articles, comment on their stories and look for opportunities to be a source (HARO is a terrific free resource for connecting with reporters and bloggers seeking sources). Beware of “pay-for-play” and free publicity schemes; associating your business with a low-quality media outlet could hurt your credibility with reputable media, potential customers and investors. When ready, startups should consider hiring a PR agency to help further raise awareness.
Pictures tell the story.
Increased demand for photo sharing is pushing business to deploy creative messages visually in order to compete in a crowded content market. All Things D reported that in August of this year, smartphone users spent more time on Instagram than on Twitter for the first time since Instagram launched in 2010. This is indicative of a broader shift toward visual content in the digital space. As the old saying goes, ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words;’ more importantly, it might also be worth your customer’s attention.
Takeaway for startups — When it comes to communications, make “show and tell” your mantra and remember that “show” comes first for a reason. Look for ways to illustrate your business’s story in pictures. Most social media platforms offer a simple way to accomplish this. Moved into your first office? Post a photo of your new space on Facebook. Speaking at a conference? Get someone to snap a picture of you at the podium to share with your followers on Twitter and LinkedIn. Got research or tips to share with your audience? Develop an infographic to bring the information to life on your social channels. As the use of mobile devices increases, businesses that create attention-grabbing, shareable content will get a better return on their efforts than those that stick to text-based marketing materials.
Whether or not these trends will directly influence your public relations and social media efforts in 2013, it’s important to be aware of changes in the business and media landscape as they pertain to your target audience. No matter which tactics you choose, always set goals, measure your results and evaluate your progress.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessNewsDaily.