Fluent in Facebook, Basic Knowledge in Twitter: Student Entrepreneurs Diving Into Social Media Marketing

By Katja Schroeder, Expedition PR

According to the Kaufman Foundation, about 85% of all new jobs in the nation stem from entrepreneurial ventures. Companies like Google, Facebook, Reddit and FedEx proved that companies can successfully be started during college. Founding a company does not require a stint in the corporate world.  It can happen any time when you have the right idea. And, large corporations are also now looking for employees with an entrepreneurial spirit, to drive creativity and promote a “can-do” attitude. But an idea is not enough. Entrepreneurs, especially student entrepreneurs, need help with financing, operations, HR, and marketing.

Committed to assisting Brooklyn’s and New York City’s entrepreneurs, St. Francis College launched the SFC Center for Entrepreneurship. The center is providing classes, tools and academic research to support budding and existing entrepreneurs in the city. The first cohort of 18 students started this semester to learn the fundamentals of creating and running a business.

afkj-300x200I met the inaugural class of the Entrepreneurship Center last week to give a talk on how startups can use social media marketing.

At the beginning of each class, I typically survey what types of social media channels the students are familiar with. Millennials are the Facebook generation. 99%-100% of the students in my class are on Facebook to connect with their friends and family. They get their news on Facebook and YouTube, as opposed to newspapers. About 30-50% use Twitter and Instagram. Less than 5% are familiar with Pinterest and location-based applications like Foursquare. Even less students, about 1-2 in each class, use LinkedIn. No big bloggers or Yelpers, so far.

While budding student entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to apply their experience with using social media for their personal life to marketing their business, they asked the same question as any other entrepreneurs: How do I best use social media to engage with my customers? And, how do I start developing a good social media strategy?

My answer was that setting a good strategy in place starts with the following steps:

  • Know your audience: Yes, your company is communicating with prospects and customers. But they have different buyer’s persona. Describe the different types of customers that you are serving. And don’t forget, there are more stakeholder groups than customers. Reporters, analysts and business partners are on social media too.  Now also angel investors and Venture Capitalist firms are looking at companies’ social media engagement and traction.
  • Identify the key social media channels: Not all your audiences will use the same social media channels; even within your customer segment, some might be more attuned to certain social media than others. Keeping time and resources in mind, focus on the channels where the majority of your key audiences are and define your strategy by channel. Reading the latest industry stats on who is using which channels.
  • Listen to the conversations on the channels: After you identified the key channels, spend some time listening to the conversations happening on each respective platform. Define topics that relate to your business and follow comments about these topics for a couple of days. Try variations of key words related to those topics to find good hashtags and key people to follow on each channel.
  • Define communications and business metrics: Always set goals for your social media marketing activities, as part of your overall marketing strategy. Tie those marketing goals to your business goal. Winning 1,000 Twitter followers within a couple of months could be an excellent result for a Twitter channel strategy, but the campaign needs to be tied to business results. If the business does not benefit from it, dedicating time to Twitter might not be the best use of resources.

Last but not least, social media marketing tools and features change by the day. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to find the best mix of channels, paid and earned media, and topics for a company’s social media marketing strategy.