Entrepreneur Office Hours - Issue #6

The stupid thing entrepreneurs need to stop talking about, a conversation with the guy who invented tagging, and a Q&A about social marketing strategies

Fall semester wraps up this week, but it’s definitely not the end of Entrepreneur Office Hours.

In this issue I’ve got three articles, a conversation with Joshua Schachter — founder of del.icio.us — and a Q&A about social media marketing strategies.

Keep the great questions coming. If you haven’t gotten an answer from me yet, you will! To send new questions, reply this email, contact me on Twitter, or find me on LinkedIn.

And, as always, please forward this email to other people who you think would get value from it. Thanks!

-Aaron


The One Thing Successful Startup Founders Never Discuss

Great founders know the right things to say and the wrong things to say. That’s why you’ll never hear successful founders talking about this.


Joshua Schachter - The Banker Who Invented Social Bookmarking

In the late 90s, a weblog called Memepool was gaining popularity for more than just its posts. Half of its million-plus users per month were enjoying a unique feature built by the site's operator, Joshua Schachter. The feature allowed Joshua to bookmark interesting links from around the Web and share them with the site's followers. The feature got so popular that he eventually spun it out into its own product: del.icio.us. del.icio.us grew in popularity so quickly that it had thousands of user in its first month, investment from a top NYC venture capital firm shortly after, and, within eight months, an acquisition offer from Yahoo!

Hear the full story on:

…or just search “Web Masters” wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.


What’s Harder Than Starting a Startup?

Starting a new company is notoriously difficult. However, as hard as starting a company is, there's something harder that nearly every entrepreneur will have to deal with at some point in their careers. Are you prepared?


What I Learned About Writing on Medium After One Year and 100 Articles

I published my 100th Medium article this week. Well… technically… my 106th, but who’s counting? In honor of the milestone, I shared an article with lessons learned.


Office Hours Q&A

———————

QUESTION:

I’ve recently launched a new startup and I’m trying to build a social marketing strategy. Which platforms should I focus on and why?

- Kyle

———————-

ANSWER: Oh boy… that’s a doozie of a question. The simple answer is: “There is no simple answer.” Social media is an enormous category, and the best social media strategy for one company is going to be completely different than the best social media strategy for another company.

Let me also add one more caveat: I’m interpreting your question to mean a social marketing content strategy, not a paid advertising strategy on social media (which I don’t really consider social marketing).

With those caveats out of the way, let me get you started by completely ignoring your question and, instead, asking this question: “Do you really need a social media strategy?”

The reason I ask is because I occasionally see companies spending time/energy/resources/money on social media that, quite frankly, have no need for social marketing. For example, I remember speaking with the founder of a company that helps researchers get their science experiments on the International Space Station. He was asking me if I knew any students who would be good social marketing interns for his company. I remember thinking, “Why the heck do you need social media marketing? Your audience is so niche that there are clearly going to be better ways to tackle this particular marketing problem.”

Are you one of those kinds of companies? Is social media really a worthwhile place to spend your resources? If it isn’t, then don’t worry about it. Despite what companies like Facebook and Twitter might want you to believe, there’s no law requiring every company to have a social media presence.

In contrast, if you are the type of startup that can benefit from being on social media, then the next question I’d ask is: “What social media platforms make the most sense for your company?” I ask this because I often see companies thinking they need to be on every platform: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc. But every social media platform requires resources, and not all of them make sense for every company.

When deciding what platforms to be on, I suggest focusing on two things:

First, understand the kinds of content your potential customers will get value from. By that, I mean will they want infographics? Articles? Tutorial videos? Links to interesting content? Once you understand the type of content you’ll be producing, you’ll have a better sense of which platforms to focus on. For example, if your social marketing strategy involves sharing lots of interesting articles, then Instagram isn’t a good platform because you can’t post external links. In contrast, if your strategy relies on compelling photos of your product(s), then Instagram could be the best platform.

The second thing to focus on is the type of audience you’re targeting. That’s because different platforms tend to appeal to different audiences. As an example, Pinterest skews toward 30-something females, whereas Reddit is going to reach a slightly younger, predominantly male demographic. These kinds of details are important for you to know because it’ll impact the kind of content you create and the overall strategy you’ll deploy.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this answer, I could write tons more about social marketing strategies. I teach an entire, semester-long class on the subject, and even then we only scratch the surface. But start with the two above questions to at least get yourself focused on one or, at most, two social media platforms. Don’t try to do more than that.

Once you’ve launched on your platform of choice, commit to consistently maintaining it for at least 6 months. By that point, you’ll have A) learned a ton about social media; and B) have a much better sense of whether or not it’s a worthwhile use of your limited resources.

Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!