Are you gearing up to launch your dream business? If so, congratulations! You are well on your way to the one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences of your life. You probably already know that social media must be a part of your success story, but what you may not know is that, once you have an idea of the type of business you want to launch, you should start using social media before your launch.
Here's a mini-case study on this. San Francisco-based Fitbit, the company that makes fitness trackers, launched in 2007, but it didn't ship its first product to consumers until 2009. In 2008, it was featured in several media outlets and won prizes naming it a top consumer tech gadget … and no one even had one.
People placed orders for the product while the company was still blogging about manufacturing delays. Fitbit's use of social media resulted in early orders that helped fund the business. While you may not win industry prizes or influence people to pay for a product before you've made it, you can use social media to lay the groundwork for eventual success. Here are eight benefits of using social media before your business launches.
Donna Maria Coles Johnson, Indie Business Network
Eight Benefits of Using Social Media Before Your Business Launches
- Social media offers access to people.
No people, no customers. Your business does not have to be launched in order for you to begin developing relationships with your target customers. Engage and cater to them sooner rather than later and they will thank you with their attention when it really counts.
- Social media invites your target customers to know, like, and trust you before you need them to do so.
In order to successfully influence people to buy your products, they must first know about you and your offerings. Once they know about you, they can form an opinion. If they like what they see, they will stick around to see whether you are some kind of Internet scam or a credible person with a product that can enhance their lives. If you pass that smell test, they will consider buying from you.
It takes time to build the kind of credibility that allows you to go from follower to family in the mind of your customer. Start developing this trust now, so when you need it, it's already there.
- Social media helps you saturate the Web with your message in advance of your launch.
The sooner you start feeding the Internet, the sooner it will start feeding you. If you want the Web to produce sales for you, you have to produce content for the Web. Each social media share is a tiny bread crumb that leads people to your brand. The sooner you start feeding the birds, the sooner they will start feeding you.
- Social media helps you develop confidence and leadership skills.
One of the amazing byproducts of using social media is the development of confidence and strong leadership skills. In fact, social media really is a kind of personal development tool. Confidence is one of those things that you must build in order to grow your business. Social media can help you do that naturally, one step at a time. Why wait?
- Social media introduces you to people who can help you be successful in business.
I have met and engaged with thousands of people on social media, and many have helped me on my journey. Thousands of people have become Indie Business Network members and clients. Authors have sent me autographed copies of their books. Some well respected entrepreneurs and business leaders have complemented my work, leading to more of the confidence mentioned above.
Every time someone ReTweets one of my Tweets about a member or a podcast or a blog post like this one, I enjoy an incremental business boost. You'll need as many of those as you can get, and they accumulate over time. Don't wait to start your collection. Start now.
- Social media facilitates the development of relationships with targeted media outlets.
I have enjoyed many media opportunities as a result of using social media. For example, the author of this article on Forbes.com found me on Twitter. The reporter who wrote this article in the Charlotte Observer found me on Facebook, and that relationship eventually led to my new small business column.
Whatever goals you set your sights on, social media can help you achieve them. Don't waste time. Start using social media to pursue your goals now.
- Social media helps you gain clarity.
Connecting with the public regularly will help you gain clarity on your why and on your target audience. You'll discover who your best customers are. You'll become more confident in your message and how it reflects the soul of your business. You'll begin to more clearly understand your target customers' likes and dislikes.
You'll understand what makes them tick, and this will help you serve them better. Social media can help ensure that you make your first sale to a customer who is tailor made for your product. That's nothing to shake a stick at.
- Social media allows you to launch your business to hundreds (or thousands) of people, and not just to your mom, dad, boyfriend and cat.
I accepted the first membership payment for the Indie Business Network in April 2000. I published my first newsletter on January 16, 2000 — a full four months earlier.
Between those two dates, membership was free because I wanted my target customers to get a taste of what I had planned for them. When the membership payment link was published in April, I didn't hear an echo. I heard a cash register. You can do the same thing.
Donna Maria Coles Johnson, Indie Business Network
You Need a Strategy
I am not suggesting that you set up a dozen social media accounts and just start chatting it up. You do need a strategy. Fitbit had a strategy. Get people to pay in advance so we can show them how dedicated we are to making a good product, and if we get behind, keep letting them know how hard we are working to produce for them. Was it risky? Yes. Did did pay off? Yes.
On a much smaller scale, I did the same thing. Of course there was no such thing as Facebook and Twitter then, but the same principle applies. I began to engage my target customers with the technology that was available at the time. I let them under the hood. I learned about them. I talked to them via email. I gave them a complimentary membership so they could try IBN out for themselves and see if it was worth their time and their money. Risky? Yes. Did did pay off? Yes. In spades.
How Can I Help You?
Do you feel overwhelmed at the thought of figuring out how to use social media in advance of the launch of your business? Do you need help creating a pre-launch strategy? Do you already have a business, but are struggling to create a strategy that works efficiently and effectively for you? Click this link to set up a one-hour social media pre-launch strategy session. I'd be happy to help you customize a system that will help you use social media to woo and service customers before you even have anything to sell. I'm ready. Are you?
Did you use social media before your business launched? If so, how? I'd love to hear how things worked out for you! Feel free to share in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.