Social & Search Mojo for the Lean Startup

May 7th, 2014

When you launch a new company, it is essential to build visibility and credibility from the beginning, in order to drive awareness and inbound inquiries. Regularly publishing fresh, desirable content and thought leadership, as well as participating in relevant communities help to increase your company’s presence on search engines and social media channels, two of the most important and accessible mechanisms for establishing your brand.

At KITE HQ, we have begun to juice up our social presence and SEO to promote backlinking and create a consistent voice across the web. Despite tight startup budgets, we have set up an initial social strategy that is resulting in engagement and improved pagerank. It’s even starting to drive media and business development leads.

Here’s how we are improving our organic digital presence. We’d love to hear how you’re doing it in the comments, as well.


The Social Big Four

In social, we are concentrating on the “Big Four”: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. These pillar networks help us engage in real-time conversations and create connections within our target audiences: startups and emerging tech, brands and agencies, and tech-focused media.

KITE on Twitter

We use our Twitter account (@getKITE) to highlight industry news and engage with brands, agencies, startups, partners and thought leaders on a daily basis. Our largest (and fastest growing) following is on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, Twitter has yielded relatively high impression and engagement numbers.

[twitter-timeline id=373887490790133760 username=getKITE]

Pro Tip: if you spend $50 on a Twitter ads campaign you can more quickly claim abandoned Twitter accounts that are closest to your “domain”/name.

KITE on Facebook

We use Facebook as a platform to showcase our brand, company culture, activities and thought leadership off of our site. It allows us to expound on the content we post thoughtfully, but briefly, allowing us to start conversations quickly with less effort than a blog post. This is an important channel, as many people check a company’s Facebook Page along with its site and LinkedIn profile. Our like count and engagement levels are consistently rising, but as you probably know, Facebook has greatly reduced the reach of Pages without paid promotion, in which we have not yet invested.

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KITE on LinkedIn

Our posts on LinkedIn are our most targeted. We have a smaller following on LinkedIn, but we’ve discovered great value in thought leadership and event promotion here. Our posts are often related to ways in which we can connect with partners and prospects in the real world. We post event invites, showcase our own recap blog articles and highlight articles from industry leaders. As one of the first places that people look when researching a company, it is essential to keep company information and content up to date and consistent.

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A note: iCrossing recently published their CMO’s Guide to LinkedIn; we found their feature-specific recommendations to be really helpful when developing our content strategy on the platform.

KITE on Google+

While it seems like Google is diminishing the presence of Google+ as its own social network, it remains an important part of the Google ecosystem, as they are using it as connective tissue between all of their products. For us, G+ has proven to be effective in improving our pagerank in Google search results and learning more about about those with whom we engage. It provides page managers with the most granular analytics amongst the Big Four and provides a surprisingly high level of actionable intelligence, given our page’s small following. We’re getting a lot of bang for our buck (i.e. free) with their analytics tools. While the future of G+ is uncertain, it seems worth it to maintain a baseline of activity there, even if just to optimize for Google alone.

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Owning Your SERP

Search engines are still often the first way that the majority of Internet users begin researching, so it is essential for startups to own as much of the first few search engine result pages (“SERPs”) as possible. While search engines are taking different approaches to incorporating individual social posts into results, owning your brand name on popular social channels helps to present search results that drive to sites and profiles that you control, whenever someone searches for your brand name. Therefore, one of the first things you should do after you choose the name of your company is to claim profiles on at least the Big Four.

In addition, incorporating a blog into your site helps your owned content rise to the top of the SERPs for both your branded and related keywords. Search engines love recent, high quality content, so the more you publish about a range of relevant topics, the more visibility you will drive. We certainly know how difficult it is to create content on a regular basis when you’re building a product and a business, but it doesn’t have to be overly long or complex. Consider publishing quick insights, partnering with other content creators and spreading the responsibility for content creation across your whole team. When influential industry peers, the media and potential customers begin citing and linking to your blog, you will quickly realize the benefits of this small investment.

Finally, get out into the world and make some noise. Attend and speak at events. Offer to guest blog for popular sites and media outlets. Comment on Quora and LinkedIn posts. Without being salesy, you can include your company’s name, and sometimes even link to your site, which will contribute to the credibility of your company and will slowly, but surely, start showing up on your SERPs. It definitely doesn’t hurt when links to your site from an article about a panel that your CMO was on.

Google, Bing and Yahoo! are frequently changing their algorithms and rules, but we know that sites and content that are regularly updated and linked to by other reputable sites tend to rise to the top.


Where Next?

We have laid our social foundations, but we are looking to expand into other, more specialized social networks that will continue to increase our visibility and credibility in our space.

The first place that we will likely expand our activity and publishing frequency is SlideShare, a simple and vibrant community for sharing presentations. We are considering creating companion presentations for our blog posts, presenting photo slide shows and otherwise leveraging this channel more fully, as it drives immense engagement, search traction and sharing of our content. Look out for more presentations, panel recaps and case studies on our Slideshare page soon.

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Some of our most popular posts have been images from events and conferences, as well as team photos that help to convey our unique company culture. As we move forward with the implementation of our social strategy, the most natural space to push into next would be specialized visual web startups like Instagram and Pinterest.


Managing Social and Content

As we grow, social management tools will prove to be even more essential than they already are. Our current go-to is Buffer, a key cross-platform management tool for our small team. Their platform  makes it super simple to schedule posts and monitor their performance from a dashboard.  Plus, their blog on all things social media is one of the smartest corporate blogs around. We will likely add analytics, influencer and other platforms to our stack soon.

Let us know how you’re thinking about social, content and search strategy in the comments section and where you are gaining the most traction.