The use of social media has never stopped growing, but it is very different to what we were seeing a few years ago. Worldwide, there are more than three billion active users within one or more social networks, 13% more than last year, according to a study by We Are Social. Although Facebook remains the most dominant platform, following closely behind are YouTube and Instagram. Twitter occupies the seventh position for number of active users per month, while LinkedIn, Reddit and Pinterest are last in the race.
With so many accounts that publish content on a daily basis, does it make sense for a startup to attempt to reach their audience through social media?
For Jaime Valverde, head of MAPFRE’s Development of Social Networks Department, social networks are a “more or less cheap” channel that allows emerging companies “to quickly make known what they do”.
The problem is that, with so much activity, the majority of users are ‘infoxicated’ (intoxicated with too much information) and not all messages reach the intended recipients. “The challenge for startups is finding a way to make their content ‘sexy’“, explains Valverde, which essentially means “demonstrating that the product has value for the user” through “a powerful message”. In addition, one of the advantages of this channel is that “it offers a thousand ways to share an idea with a very low marginal cost”.
Generally speaking, you can make content reach the target audience in two ways: directly, through an individual communication, such as private messages on LinkedIn; and indirectly, making “people who are influential for the user talk about a particular product,” says Valverde. And what about those emerging companies that offer services for other companies? Social media can also be their channel, since a company’s managers or purchasing staff are also users of these platforms and “if the content is interesting or attention-grabbing, it will reach its audience”. According to a study on digital marketing in the ‘b2b’ sector (business to business), websites, email and social media are the three main channels in which the most money is invested.
Before you begin to schedule publications you need to design a clear differentiation strategy. “The basis of marketing is differentiation […] you have to find a way to communicate a message differently, and a startup must do so with more motivation, since neither their brand or their logo are recognisable to the user,” says Valverde.
“With social media you reach a wider audience, but there are also more people competing for the same user attention. […] If the avatar does not grab their attention, and the content does not bring them value, the user passes by,” says this social media expert.
For example, each second more than 6,000 tweets are sent, which adds up to 500 million tweets per day. According to Valverde, “startups must find their own style and a different way of sharing the information”.
In the case of a major insurer such as MAPFRE, the use of social media has different objectives: strengthening the brand, generating trust, building an image of innovation, providing customer support through this route, generating new relationships that can be converted into sales, and communicating sponsorships and the actions of MAPFRE Foundation, among others. One of its most innovative actions on social media was #RafaEnVivo. “We were the first to offer a service of this kind. Any user can ask the MAPFRE account on Twitter how Rafa Nadal is doing, directly, and they receive a response in real time. Although it may not seem it, it is customer service,” explains Valverde.
When opening new channels on social media, we have to take into account another very important aspect: monitoring, which will be associated with the objectives being pursued. Some companies do not know which indicators they should analyse in order to know if their strategy is successful, but Jaime Valverde is clear on this point: “The role of networks in a company will tell you what has to be measured. For example, if you want people to know of you, impacts will be more important and the number of followers less so”.
It is clear that one of the main challenges for startups is becoming known and getting into the minds of customers, investors and other companies with whom they may wish to collaborate. Without a doubt, social media, used properly, can be a very powerful tool for this.