How often does your startup Tweet? (Or is it X now?) When’s the last time your startup gave more than a passing thought to LinkedIn? After all, the whole world is active on social media (well, 4.2 billion of us anyways). Are you missing out on brand awareness, market leadership, and leads because your social media presence is practically non-existent? If these questions keep nagging in the back of your head, read on.

Each platform has unique quirks and nuances, which can make social media as a whole seem a bit daunting, especially for startup marketing teams who never feel like they have enough time or resources. But don’t worry — once you get the hang of it, social media can become another resource in your toolbelt! Here are some tips and tricks that can help you harness organic social media for your brand.

Why use social media?

Remember when “But everyone else is doing it!” wasn’t a good enough reason when you asked your mom for permission to go skateboarding down the steepest hill in town? Well, it’s a good enough reason now. 

77% of businesses use social media. That’s a high number, and it’s only going to climb. Social media eliminates the typical barriers that limit a startup’s reach. It’s easy to share new updates, interact directly with customers, and create brand awareness. Every like and comment you accumulate develops a relationship with a growing audience. And when you post share-worthy content, your audience can expose you to potential new clients with the tap of a finger. Even small startups have the opportunity to go viral and gain a substantial online following. 

Who’s your audience?

The first step to maximizing your social media presence is also one of the most simple: determining your audience. It’s no different than considering different personas for your products and solutions. Who will interact with your content? Who do you want to engage with? Compared to users in their mid-twenties, users in their late-forties will use vastly different social media platforms for vastly different purposes (e.g., the Instagram influencer who snaps aesthetic pictures of their meals versus the proud Facebook parents posting about their kids). 

To nail down your target social media audience, consider the average age of your clients, and then start thinking about the types of content that they might want to see. From there, you can narrow down the optimal channels and determine how you should present yourself online. Should you be serious? Funny? Quirky?

The language app Duolingo recently began targeting Gen Z via sarcastic social media posts that urge users to continue their daily language lessons. Their TikTok account thrives off of this chaotic hilarity; the infamous owl figurine participates in the latest trends via daily unhinged videos. 

The result? Their TikTok account has garnered over 8 million followers. Duolingo is a masterclass in social media, and they wield their astonishing popularity to foster a personal connection with their clients. Even though its figurehead is a massive green plush owl, the brand has constructed an identity that feels genuinely human and authentic. 

What platforms should you use?

While Duolingo uses several platforms, the company has a massive social team dedicated toward producing content. If you’re like most startups, however, it’s unlikely you’ll have the resources, personnel or time to steadily maintain accounts on more than two to three platforms. So which channels should you prioritize? Currently, the leading social media platforms for businesses are Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but I’d like to add TikTok as well. Here’s an overview of each:

LinkedIn: The average LinkedIn user is 25 to 34 years old. As a professional platform, LinkedIn stands distinctly apart from the others. LinkedIn is the perfect place for companies to demonstrate their industry knowledge, bolster their brand awareness, and generate leads by sharing gated content. 

For inspiration, I recommend checking out Microsoft’s LinkedIn and Dropbox’s Linkedin.

X: The average X user is 18 to 29 years old. As a platform, X best serves companies who want to communicate with customers in messages that quickly get to the point. With a 280 character limit, posts are conversational and somewhat informal – there’s simply not enough space to write posts chock-full of complex jargon (unless, of course, you want craft a loquacious thread tweet, which might disengage your audience). X is also great for companies that want to post daily but don’t necessarily have the time to churn out visual content. That being said, if you want to jump on a visual trend, I recommend editing a quick graphic and sharing it on X. If not, feel free to add a hashtag to your posts for easy exposure. 

For inspiration, I recommend checking out Slack’s X account and Adobe’s X account. 

Instagram: The average Instagram user is 18 to 34 years old. It skews a bit younger than X, and the content is more visual. On Instagram, you curate a feed (which is basically the complete collection of posts on your profile) that’s based on aesthetics. You might notice that brands are limited to certain color palettes or fonts. That’s because the main objective is to post content that’s cohesive and polished. Instagram is great for establishing a brand image, sharing weekly news, and engaging Gen Z. There’s also a built-in shop that allows you to sell products directly on the platform. 

For inspiration, I recommend checking out Mailchimp’s Instagram and Shopify’s Instagram

TikTok: The average TikTok user is 18 to 24 years old. TikTok videos are short, attention-grabbing, and driven by trends, so it’s especially important to keep an eye on the latest audios and templates. While brands have a higher likelihood of going viral on TikTok compared to other platforms, it can be difficult to film and edit videos. Like Instagram, TikTok includes a service that allows customers to buy products without leaving the app. For brands that gear more creative and less formal – and that have a bit more time to create content – TikTok is a fantastic option. 

For inspiration, I recommend checking out Grammarly’s TikTok and Zoom’s TikTok. 

Facebook: The average Facebook user is 25 to 34 years old. Out of every platform, Facebook has the highest amount of monthly users. Content includes images, videos, and text, making Facebook perfect for sharing product updates and starting conversations with customers. Because of this multiform content, Facebook is also ideal for sharing exclusive content or deals, both of which would encourage users to further interact and engage with your account. 

For inspiration, I recommend checking out Salesforce’s Facebook and Canva’s Facebook.

How do you create a posting plan?

Now it’s time to start thinking about your posting schedule. Each channel requires a varying amount of time and effort. For Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok, the algorithms are happiest when you post 2-3 times per week. X and Facebook’s algorithms prefer a bit more content, so try to post 4-5 times per week. I suggest developing a weekly routine for generating content (filming TikTok videos, designing infographics, researching trends) and creating a content calendar so that you can appropriately space out your posts. 

It’s important to remember that you might not be successful at first. If your first TikTok video goes viral, that’s great! But it’s more likely that it won’t — and don’t let that discourage you. It’s all part of the process, and as you continue to create content, you’ll develop a keen sense of what works and what doesn’t. 

What are the next steps?

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, that’s okay. There’s a lot happening on each social media channel. Figure out what kind of time commitment your team can realistically give, and if you need to outsource part of the work to a freelancer or agency, that’s okay too. Either way, start plotting out your strategy and then give it a shot! 

About the Author

Bridget Weingart is an intern at Firebrand Communications. As a Communication and Writing student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she’s passionate about crafting compelling narratives and developing social media marketing strategies.