Social media marketing for startups – the search for emotions and added value

The social media in marketing has great advantages for companies, is nothing new. Whether for recruiting or the presentation of products, many companies show their skills and create viral and memorable posts that help the company to reach a pole position in the customer’s mind.

However, a social media strategy needs resources and often also money – no problem for corporations and established SMEs – for startups a major hurdle in the fight for consumer attention.

Many of the young entrepreneurs seem to follow the motto that the more hashtags, the better the post. But it takes a well thought-out strategy and a bit of humour to leave a lasting impression even with a small staff and low budget.


Innovation as an obstacle

Start-ups are characterized by a flexible, disruptive corporate culture. Innovation is one of the foundations of any start-up, but in marketing this is often a problem. Especially for customers who have no technical or technological knowledge, the messages are often too boring or difficult to understand.

Therefore, the communication goals must first be defined for each company. What do start-ups want to communicate at all and what brings added value to the customer? Is it necessary to know the technical details or is the benefit not more important? Who is the target group to be reached by the social media work and what does he want to know? Similar to product development, social media marketing has to evaluate and solve customers’ problems and needs. Not only with the product, but also with the communication message.

Companies should ask themselves questions such as:

  • Does it interest our customers at all?
  • Are there service issues that are directly or indirectly related to our product?
  • What kind of comprehension problems does the customer have with our product, our solution or overall with the range?
  • Are there any prejudices we have to clear up?
  • Can existing schemes be used to help the customer understand?


In no area are such questions more necessary than in the innovative market environment of start-ups. Innovations are new and often a bit enigmatic for the customer. To convince him, you have to make his access as easy as possible.

With a well thought-out strategy you can therefore make more out of your own product and increase the level of awareness. This can be done emotionally or objectively.


The team behind the innovation

Start-ups are known for their unconventional way of working. The myth of the founding team, who work in the garage or attic of their parents’ house, is firmly in the minds of most customers. It is therefore recommended to use the power of the “team” also in communication.

I am aware that it can be difficult for inexperienced founders and their colleagues to smile into the camera and talk empathetically about their complex product, but this personal touch is the key to success. Often it is good to build a brand around the founders in the first years. Steve Jobs already did this with Apple, which to this day inseparably links the brand with the deceased founder.

Therefore, if you can, go the personal way. It does not have to be in video or audio form. Also photos of the team members at work or short interviews, which aim at the personal touch, can help to put the startup and its culture at the customer in a good light.


Testimonials as Social Media Advocates

If you just can’t work with your own team or the personal touch doesn’t fit your company and communication strategy, you can also use your own customers as communicators. In branding, there is seldom something as good publicity as a satisfied customer who is not ashamed to say what it has brought him.
In social media marketing it is called “Word of Mouth”. Mouth-to-mouth propaganda is a good tool for quick reach. Often the customers themselves share their given statement in their own network and thus make you known to their customers and partners.

It can therefore do no harm to ask satisfied customers if they will help you apply for your startup. After all, they all know the challenges of marketing themselves.


Creating added value and solving problems

In addition to the emotional component, social media marketing can also be approached very professionally. So you can simply ask your target group what keeps them awake every day, where the shoe pinches or what they always wanted to know about your topic. For example, if you ask a startup from robotics, you can also answer general questions on the topic of automation and thus help the target group to better understand.

If your answer is well done, for example as an explanatory video, this not only has the potential to be often shared and licked, but can also put you on the radar of some potential customers who are still hesitant.


Basically, social media marketing always has to consider what moves your target group and how you can immerse yourself in their world. This way you can overtake the big companies with little financial means but a clever communication strategy and present yourself optimally in the social media.

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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