Social media makes it easy to connect with your customers, but keeping them engaged is becoming harder by the day. As more brands start to compete for attention across all of our social feeds, it’s crucial to stay on top of trends if you want to leave a lasting impression.

Ready to update your marketing strategy? Here are five of the biggest trends in social media we’re likely to see in 2018.

1. Influencer Advertising Will Get Even Bigger

The good news: producing high-quality photo and video content has never been easier. The bad news: all brands have the same ability and platforms to broadcast amazing content.

For that reason, /how/ you say something has become equally as important as /what/ you’re saying. Brands like MVMT Watches and Audi have shown off the true power and flexibility of social media by leveraging powerful influencers to build brand awareness in key communities.

Great content has become the standard. An effective marketing campaign isn’t about who can make the best content, everyone can do that these days — it’s about who can create the most compelling narrative.

Furthermore, your content is worthless if you aren’t getting it in front of the right audience. Influencers make it easy to reach targeted niches in a way that feels authentic and generates high engagement.

Want to launch a successful campaign on social media? Start by understanding who influences your target customers and what types of posts they’re likely to engage with. These days, people have an inherent trust in influencers — capitalizing on the way social media connects the general public with celebrities is still largely under-recognized in the marketing world.

2. Micro-Moments Will Become an Integral Part of the Customer Journey

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of the term UX in context with a website or a digital product. But what about thinking about the UX of your business?

In a sense, the customer journey is really just one large user experience. If you want to engage users, you need to think about how they’re going to interact with your business digitally.

Social media obviously plays a huge role in your overall brand experience, so it’s important to make sure all of the relevant information is readily accessible from all of your profiles.

Google defines four different intentions in its [guide on digital micro-moments](https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/micro-moments/micro-moments-understand-new-consumer-behavior/):
* “I-want-to-know moments”
* “I-want-to-go moments”
* “I-want-to-do moments”
* “I-want-to-buy moments”

Growing your presence on social media isn’t all about posting daily and optimizing your hashtags — it’s vital to make sure your page actually provides users with whatever they’re searching for.

This means adopting a mobile-first strategy; in order to anticipate the actions your target customers are going to take, you need to understand what they’re going to be looking for.

3. Chatbots Will Dominate Customer Support

Facebook Messenger reminds us every day just how far we’ve come from the laggy support bots buried deep in the help section of a business’s website.

For younger audiences, chatbots are quickly becoming the preferred method of interacting with a business — from basic customer support requests to more complex tasks like scheduling appointments and making purchases.

With the announcement of Apple’s Business Chat for iMessage, the competition is starting to heat up. 2018 is the year of experimentation. Brands are going to start branching out from handling basic support to engage their customers in new ways.

60% of millennials already use chatbots, and over 70% would like to try a chatbot experience with a brand they already have a relationship with.

Chatbots have the capability to make brands feel uniquely personal, and with Facebook Messenger and Business Chat, the UX is often better than a traditional phone call. Conversation retention is increased significantly by the fact that users can pick up a conversation from any device, anytime they want, without having to worry about waiting on hold.

# 4. Ephemeral Content Will Continue Remain King of Engagement

After Snapchat launched stories, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t want to get left out of the ephemeral content game. Soon enough, Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp launched their own versions of stories, all following the same basic recipe as Snapchat: photo/video content viewable by your friends or followers that disappears after 24 hours.

Ephemeral content creates a sense of urgency and makes your social profiles feel more human. On top of daily feed posts, ephemeral content marketing requires a strategy all on its own.

Instagram is doubling down on stories — and for the most part, this is a sign that you need to as well. You can now access stories from almost anywhere: at the top of the feed, on every post in your feed, and now promoted in random spots while you’re scrolling.

If you’re not posting stories to maximize your reach, you’re missing out on a ton of potential engagement. Due to their ephemeral nature, they lead to extremely high conversion rates. Instagram allows accounts with over 10,000 followers to promote links using their stories — users can simply swipe up and access websites without having to leave the app.

A perfect feed might be important if you want to gain followers, but users don’t want to see “perfect” in your disappearing content. The more human and behind-the-scenes you can make your stories feel, the better.

5. Facebook Will Become Primarily Pay-to-Play

If you’re experiencing lower reach and engagement on Facebook, don’t freak out — it’s not your fault. As Facebook becomes increasingly cluttered with advertisers, organic traffic is becoming a scarce resource.

Facebook has gone as far as testing the complete removal of brands from the News Feed. Unless, of course, they want to pay a premium that is.

Facebook ads have always been great, and this is simply another measure to encourage brands to start paying Facebook to take advantage of them. While the implications are yet to surface, we’re likely going to see an increase in influencer posts, increased Facebook ad budgets, and less organic posts from brands on their pages. Along with lower overall engagement, we’re also probably going to see a decent amount of brands shift their focus solely towards Facebook’s golden child: Instagram.

In the world of blogging, Medium is the new kid on the block — and it’s crushing it. After launching in 2012, Medium has quickly generated well over 60 million monthly users, 90% of which have already graduated college.

Does the name Evan Williams ring a bell? If you’ve ever written a blog post or crafted a tweet, it should — he’s the founder of both Blogger and Twitter. After providing a way for anyone to publish long-form content on the internet through Blogger, Williams moved on to tackle the opposite end of the spectrum: giving people a platform to publish their thoughts in 140 characters or less.

Ev’s Been Around the Block Before

Blogger was great for getting your ideas out there, but as more people began to publish content on the internet, actually getting noticed became almost impossible. Blogger had no internal platform to circulate content, i.e. Twitter.

Twitter was essentially a platform built to circulate content. It was one of the first social networks that relied largely on the re-blogging of content.

As soon as celebrities caught wind of Twitter, the new micro-blogging platform based on quick updates took off. Twitter was great at personalizing celebrities and brands, but it wasn’t so great for content — it’s pretty hard to inject a ton of depth into 140 characters (now 280).

What Makes Medium so Special?

Medium combines the benefits of a social network with the ability to publish beautiful long-form content. Instead of hosting your posts on a domain only accessible trough external links, Medium gives users the ability to create profiles and publications — both discoverable by anyone using the platform.

For the first time, traffic to your company’s blog doesn’t have to come externally. Medium has its own content algorithm, and that makes it easy to grow your audience by publishing content that people enjoy. Plain and simple.

Customizable publications are the bread and butter of Medium for businesses. Like a blog, publications can feature multiple authors, sort content by category, and even display a completely customizable design.

A Custom Business Blog, but Better

Publications are free to use, and Medium allows you to customize the domain name so long as it’s preceded by medium.com (medium.com/yourpublicationname). For a fee, you can even add a custom domain — allowing businesses to match their website’s domain like a traditional blog.

Once your categories are set up and you’ve customized the design of your publication, writing is as easy (if not easier) than any other CMS. With the limitless benefits of a social network backing the platform, why wouldn’t you feature your business blog on Medium and get the benefits of both worlds?

Not to mention, adding in the social aspect to your publication makes your content feel more human and approachable than a traditional blog relegated to the back pages of a website.

With tons of updates and new features coming out all of the time, Medium is at the forefront of digital publishing. As a content marketer, hopping on new trends before they emerge is crucial if you want to set you and your brand apart.

Step 1: Optimizing Your Profile/Publication Page

Remember, your publication functions like a normal blog. Your design should be engaging, and your content should be easy to find.

If you’re trying to generate leads for a business, ideally you’ll be sending users to your publication’s homepage. Getting a custom domain that matches your brand is a great way to appear more professional.

Set aside a decent chunk of time for the design of your publication. Play around with the way posts are displayed, customize your categories, and if you have one, upload your business’s logo. Medium is super flexible — if you’re not taking advantage of it, someone else will.

Step 2: Test Different Types of Content to Find What Works Best

You’re never going to know what resonates best with your audience without trying multiple styles of writing, different topics, and changing the visual design of your posts.

Keep in mind that if you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, crafting something compelling is going to be impossible. It’s hard to truly sell a topic if you’re not passionate about it.

Readers on Medium like their posts short and sweet. Four to five minutes in length is ideal, and first-person tends to work best. As Medium is a social network at heart, users like to engage with content that feels human.

Step 3: Get Featured in the Big Publications

Start by monitoring your favorite publications and authors for a while. Take a look at which topics tend to get the highest engagement and experiment with putting your own spin on them.

If your content fits within a specific niche, identify the popular publications in your industry and get in contact with the editors. Large publications are a great way to drive targeted traffic back to the rest of the content on your profile.

Getting readers to follow your publication might be a little bit more difficult, but including a short snippet about the author with a link back to your page at the bottom of your post is a good start.

Step 4: Engage Your Audience

You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Anyone on social media knows that high engagement leads to more reach.

Blogging isn’t about crafting a monologue, it’s about creating a conversation. Always try to engage your readers with specific questions at the end of your post. Medium’s algorithm loves posts with a lot of thoughtful user responses.

You’re Not Going to Become a Star Overnight

Don’t get discouraged if your follower growth doesn’t quadruple overnight. While growing on Medium is way quicker than a traditional blog, it’s still a long game.

Your success builds on itself — the more engagement you get, the more your exposure will continue to grow.

Medium isn’t just another channel for your content marketing efforts. If you want to succeed as a writer on Medium, it’s vital to change your mindset before you get frustrated.

Medium isn’t designed to generate leads by giving your content massive reach, it’s designed to generate leads by building social proof. Stuffing your content with actionable value is key if you want to grow on Medium. You can’t fake good content.

What’s stopping you from shipping your product? Or for some, what’s stopping you from building it in the first place?

Being successful isn’t always about learning new things and complicating your daily routine. While the definition of success is different for everyone, bad habits are universal.

Anyone can come up with a great idea, but only a few end up following through. Regardless of what your goals are, success starts when you take a look back and identify what’s holding you back.

Some habits may take months to break, while others may disappear as soon as you’re made aware of them. Here are five unhealthy habits that you need to drop if you want to reach your maximum potential as an entrepreneur.

Stop Making Excuses

A five-minute break never hurt anybody. But if you take five of those breaks per day, five days a week, we’re talking about over eight hours that could have been spent learning a new skillset.

You can’t get anywhere by trying to justify wasted time. If you want to be successful, you need to take responsibility for making the most out of your day. Excuses are only a tool used to shift blame away from the root cause.

As an entrepreneur, establishing priorities is crucial. At the beginning of each year, month, week, and day, you should always outline the basic priorities you refuse to make excuses for.

Forcing yourself to exercise each day is far too difficult if your only goal is to “get in shape by the end of the year.” On the other hand, setting aside time in your schedule to workout each day because you know its integral to your productivity is both measurable and tangible. Remember, it’s better to plan around your priorities than to skip out on them altogether.

Give up on Being Perfect

Nobody is perfect. There aren’t any perfect ideas, and there certainly aren’t any perfect products.

The only way to make a product people like is to release it and get feedback. There’s a ton of power in releasing something and simply asking your users what they like and what they don’t like.

The faster you move, the more you can iterate; and the more you can iterate based on your customers’ feedback, the less time you waste making a product that nobody ends up liking.

Stop Multi-tasking

Humans are not wired to be multitaskers—it’s that simple. Powering through a design while talking on the phone may seem like you’re beating the clock, but you can’t beat your own brain.

While nine out of ten people you talk to will likely vouch for their ability to multitask, it turns out only 2% of the population is mentally equipped to multitask effectively. Quitting multitasking altogether is the fastest way to become more productive.

You may believe you’re working on two things simultaneously, but you’re really just switching your focus back and forth between tasks rapidly, blocking your brain from dedicated full power to either thing you’re working on.

It takes time to refocus whenever you switch to a new task. If you’re juggling multiple things, you’re going to lose a ton of cognitive power.

If you want to be less stressed (a key component of success), stop multitasking. Whether it’s a workout, a dinner with family, or a business meeting, the key to productivity is dedicating all of your focus to a single task at a time.

Don’t Think Short-term

Short-term goals don’t help you form long-term habits. You won’t get anywhere by measuring your success in material possessions. A lot of the time, being an entrepreneur is a long-game. Sometimes your ideas will work out and other times they won’t.

Trying to launch a startup so you can drive a fast car is a lot different than starting a business to become financially sustainable.

Don’t set your goals based on your immediate desired return, set them based on what you identify with. Do things because you know they’re good for you, not because they’re going to make you more money.

Don’t Get down on Yourself

Resilience is the most important yet underestimated trait of any successful entrepreneur. It’s easy to talk about failing and picking yourself back up, but actually doing it after six failed app launches is a whole different story.

Success isn’t given—it’s earned. Everyone has the tools necessary to build a business from the ground up. Knowing you have the power to succeed and constantly believing yourself is massively important if you want to stay productive every day.

Running your own business isn’t supposed to be easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.

While having your own business has a ton of benefits, starting anything from the ground up is obviously going to come with a lot of challenges—it’s unrealistic to get it 100% right on the first go around.

“80% of success is showing up.” — Woody Allen

You can’t expect to grow without building a network, launching your product, and talking to your customers. Everyone can come up with a great idea for a business, but only a select few ever end up actually following through with it.

Successful business owners don’t possess any divine traits. The only difference between those who failed and those who ended up succeeding is how often they picked themselves up after hitting a roadblock.

Nobody is responsible for making your life better except for you. You can’t expect things to change if you’re not putting in the effort. Having a bad day is one thing, but things aren’t going to work out if you throw in the towel when things go south.

This doesn’t mean you should stick your head in the sand and ignore all of the negative feedback on your product, but instead that you should listen to your customers and head back to the drawing board in high spirits.

All entrepreneurs make mistakes—the successful ones are those that acknowledge them and dive headfirst into fixing them.

Allowing your employees to bring their dogs to work may be great for creativity, but does it really matter if nobody is excited about solving the same problem?

Creating sustainable startup growth starts with unity. Company culture is important, but you can’t do anything if your team doesn’t get excited about solving the same problems.

The best startups use their culture to identify like-minded people and help them thrive. Diversity is the key to getting people excited, but unity is what keeps your team together.

At a startup, there’s only one guarantee: unexpected roadblocks. A team comprised of people that are only in it for the paycheck simply won’t last. The best products are made by people who would be working together even if there wasn’t any money involved.

Culture Starts at the Core Team

Regardless of what stage your business is in, the core team sets the tone for the entire company. Excitement starts at the top.

As a founder, you don’t have any time to drag your feet. You can’t expect employees to be enthusiastic unless you’re practicing what you preach.

It’s crucial for the core team to have a clear vision. While it’s important to cover a diverse range of skill sets with your hiring, it’s important to remember that most things can be learned — the hard part is identifying the necessary soft skills.

For early hires, the most important trait is a strong desire to learn. When you’re at your most vulnerable, you can’t necessarily afford to diversify the talent. Your core team should be ready and willing to switch gears and learn something new.

At companies with thousands of employees like Amazon, each hire is merely a cog in the wheel. If one breaks, the wheel isn’t going to stop turning.

Startups are more like old Christmas lights: when one goes out, everything falls apart quickly. When you have a team of five, you can’t afford to hire someone that isn’t going to show up when things get difficult.

If the core members of your startup are taking three days off each week, you can’t expect the work ethic of your employees to be any stronger.

As a founder, leading by example is everything. Whether it’s listening to everyone during brainstorm sessions, conducting daily standup meetings, or even opening up communication to public Slack channels — good company culture always starts with the founders.

Is Everyone Excited About the Same Thing?

When it comes to hiring at an early stage startup, your main priority should be on identifying the right soft skills. It’s easy to over-diversify and hire too many people at the first sign of success, but diluting your focus can spell disaster without the right team members.

An experienced freelancer who knows 25+ programming languages may seem like a safer bet over a college student willing to work at your startup for pennies on the dollar, but the fact is, freelancers simply aren’t going to dedicate their lives to your product. Just because someone isn’t an expert doesn’t mean they aren’t a great candidate for your team.

Your core team should always be the most passionate and be willing to learn the widest range of hard skills. The various skills your future hires contribute should get more granular as you continue to scale.

Hiring people who are excited about the same problem doesn’t necessarily mean they have to same the solve the same part of it — that’s how you start to add diversity to your team.

When the seas get rough in the Silicon Valley, internal drive is the only thing that forces people to go to work every morning. If you’re excited about what you’re working on, perseverance comes naturally.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

It’s impossible to improve your company’s culture without looking at what’s already going on. Before making any changes to your internal operations, you need to know what you’re doing right, and what you’re doing wrong.

Always start by making a list of your strengths and weaknesses as a team. Maybe everyone is great about project deadlines but nobody knows what’s going on internally. Finding balance is everything — if you want to keep the marketing team in sync with product leases, maybe it’s time to shift from Slack channels to a weekly stand-up meeting.

While the Silicon Valley may have you thinking otherwise, adjustments to company culture don’t always have to be made by letting employees bring their dogs to work. Dogs might be great for productivity but start by pinpointing your weaknesses and adjusting accordingly.

Does Your Company’s Culture Promote Organization?

Creating a culture that keeps your team organized is the most important part of your internal review. Sometimes the biggest changes are the simplest to implement.

Whether you’re in the same office or distributed across multiple contents, getting organized is central to staying focused as a team.

Your company’s culture is an opportunity to bake creativity and organization right into your team’s work habits.

While it’s hard to improve your individual company’s culture without looking into what exactly needs to change, opening up your communication channels is a great starting place.

Always hire people that don’t need to be micromanaged. Your culture should promote independence by segmenting projects and encouraging team members to communicate.

First Unite, then Diversify

You can’t have a successful startup without unifying your team’s vision. The first stage is bringing together people with the same idea. Your core team should have all of the soft skills and technical knowledge needed to build your MVP (minimum viable product).

The second stage is diversifying. This comes once your team is stable, your product is launched, and you’re starting to generate revenue.

Diversifying the talent on your team helps you grow in unexpected ways. When the focus is on new product releases and customer development, hiring an employee with a more niche skill set allows your startup to scale by playing to its strengths.

The transition is usually incremental—maybe instead of having a marketing manager who handles everything, you add in a social media specialist and copywriter to take over blog updates and daily content.

The same can be said for the product side. Mark Zuckerberg may have coded the initial version of Facebook, but it’s a safe bet he hasn’t written any code for at least a few years considering over 13,000 people work at his company.

The roles might become increasingly granular, but your team members shouldn’t be any less aligned with your vision.

We’ve all complained about email at least once in our lives; late-night sales pitches, endless chains, and cluttered inboxes full of information you just don’t need. Done wrong, email marketing can leave a very bad taste in your mouth.

But in the age of the internet, there’s no way to grab someone’s attention quite like a message straight to their inbox. When reaching out to prospective clients, customers, or audience members via social media isn’t personal enough, email is there to give you a direct line of communication. If you don’t want your recipients groaning when they see your address in their inbox, check out these quick tips to step up your email marketing game.

1. Always Provide Value

With average email open rates sitting right around 25%, it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to find unique ways to engage their audience. In the noisy age of social media and fast-paced content consumption, attention can be easily won or lost with the click of a button. To keep those open rates up, make sure your emails always provide engaging content, timely insights, or exclusive offers—whatever form of value the subscribers of your mailing list would be interested in.

2. Get to the Point

Part of providing value and keeping attention is to cut away all of the fat from your email copy. Whatever value that you’ve determined you can offer to your audience is all that needs to be communicated—as they say in the news business, don’t bury the lede.

Don’t try to do too many things at once. Keep your emails simple so you can measure the responses to different styles of copy, content, or audiences.

3. Be Generous

But not tortuous. As the great Gary Vaynerchuk so concisely put it, “Give, give, give, then ask.” Nothing will kill your open rates more than reading like the internet’s caricature of a door-to-door salesman. As you liberally supply value through engaging content, you will end up keeping some of the least expensive attention digital marketing has to offer.

While Facebook ads, Google Adwords, and influencer marketing all play huge roles in creating a successful marketing campaign, building an email list is by far the cheapest. Once a user subscribes, you no longer have to pay for extremely targeted inbound clicks.

4. Speak to Your Reader

When you read an email, it’s a solitary experience. So when writing an email, the key is to make your readers feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

With over 300,000 subscribers and counting, The Hustle has rapidly made a name for itself as “What you’d get if The Daily Show and The Wall Street Journal had a baby.” Want to know their secret recipe for explosive growth? A unique tone.

In a business world cluttered with boring publications and dreary market reports, The Hustle switches things up by adopting an informal (and at times, hilarious) tone to make current events easier to digest for millennials.

5. Know Your Voice

And be authentic to it. Lazy, self-interested copy will be picked up on immediately, and cause users to rapidly unsubscribe from your mailing list; the same goes for emails that copy rather than communicate. Consistency matters here as well—which is why the easiest way to write effectively is to write honestly.

6. Personalize Important Emails

If you’re running a business, it’s probably safe to assume you don’t have the time to personalize 1,000 individual emails two times a week. But if part of your campaign hinges on some key points of participation, don’t be afraid to get focused. Sometimes, 30 well-tailored messages go farther than an email blast to list of 1,000 subscribers. However, as with anything else, a combination of the two is likely to work best.

7. Avoid Over-the-Top Visuals

That is, without reading test emails yourself on both desktop and mobile first. Many of the more complex layouts will deliver in a disjointed manner on mobile, resulting in an unenjoyable read and quick click to your unsubscribe page.

8. Experiment with Personalized Subject Lines

According to Campaign Monitor, emails with a personalized subject line are 26% more likely to be opened. Across the board, the data is clear–play around with your email marketing software and customize as much as possible, or you’re already behind. Even if you don’t have the time to create unique emails for all of the various segments in your mailing list, the majority of today’s email marketing apps allow you to automate the basic customization of your emails.

9. Segment Your Email Audiences

Or outright split them into multiple lists if it makes sense to do so. If you find your target audience expanding, you may be faced with a few different factions valuing what you offer for different reasons or demanding different things altogether. Listening to those new developments in your audience is how you remain relevant to them. Segmenting your email lists can also make it easier to personalize your message, so make sure your offerings are coherent with how you decide to split up your audience.

10. Be Consistent

Human beings are creatures of habit, and as we all know, it’s far too easy to unwittingly fall into patterns of behavior that we never change for inertia alone. Setting your email campaigns to occur on a consistent schedule makes it easier for your readers to incorporate your content into their daily routine, significantly increasing your retention.

11. Always Include a Clear Call to Action

And make it clear, attractive, and easy to access. Emails are likely towards the top of your sales funnel, and as such must be designed to engage, attract, and convert people who have expressed interest in the value you or your company bring to the table. Therefore, providing space in your email to access that value (and convert interest into sales) is of the utmost importance.

A 2017 McKinsey report noted that “the average [inbound] order value of an email is at least three times higher than that of social media”—no laughing matter considering the advertising dollars Facebook reaps in every year. When done right, email marketing is still one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to stand out to your audience.

We’ve all heard it before, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” And now, it couldn’t possibly be any more true—especially when it comes to marketing your business. Relatability, sharability, and virality are the defining characteristics of any successful marketing campaign.

You won’t resonate with your customer if they don’t relate to your ad’s creative. You won’t expand your reach if people don’t want to share your content. And if neither of these things happen, you won’t drive any sales, and you definitely won’t go viral.

Whether you’re trying to raise awareness for a new product launch or retarget past customers before the holidays, a strong social media presence is the fastest (and least expensive) way to start. At first glance, social media seems relatively simple. Setup your profiles, tweet out a few links, and you’re well on your way, right? Not exactly.

Making beautiful profiles and posting great content is only the beginning. Growing a massive following and going viral are two completely different stories. Here are eight tips to help you accelerate your brand’s social media growth and make a lasting impression on your audience.

Set the Right Goals

You can’t skip the planning stage. Establishing clear, achievable goals is the first step in any successful social media campaign. You should never create an account without determining why you’re on social media in the first place.

Start by setting specific, achievable goals. If you’re trying to grow engagement across all of your social media channels, the first step is to pick a platform and hone in on a metric of your choosing. Your goals should always contain metrics that are easy to measure. For example, trying to boost your daily Facebook engagement by 10% in 3 weeks is specific, measurable, and easily achievable.

As long as you have a clear, definable purpose when you’re posting on social media, you shouldn’t have a problem increasing the engagement and overall interaction with your page.

Find Your Audience

Before you start posting, make sure you know who you’re trying to reach. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn all have millions of users, but you’re going to need to narrow down your audience if you want to reach customers effectively.

You’ll need to take into account which social media sites your target customers are using, what types of content they’re consuming, and how you can better tailor your strategy to generate engagement amongst your audience.

To get a better idea of what you should be posting, segment your audience into small subsections and take a look at how they interact with other brands on social media. It’s easy to grow your presence organically if you know what types of content your audience is likely to engage with.

Be Relatable

When you’re interacting with customers on social media, it helps to have a little personality. Whether you’ve got a separate Twitter account for your company’s support team or an autoresponder on Messenger, be friendly, respond quickly, but most of all, don’t forget to be human.

When posting, make sure your copy is fun, easy to read, and highly engaging. Figure out what type of voice resonates with your audience experiment with giving your captions a bit of personality.

Use Visual Content

If you’ve used any social media platform within the last five years, then you’re no stranger to the impact visual content has to offer. Almost all of the viral content on any social media platform is tied to some form of photo or video.

[Photos get the most engagement](https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/photos-generate-engagement-research/)––it’s that simple. So if you want to grow your audience, think about using visual content to your advantage.

Social media is a great place to post photos of your team, photos of customers, product photos, event photos, behind-the-scenes photos, and engaging quotes.

However, always try to make sure your visual content somehow ties back to your brand. Reposting is great, but there’s nothing more valuable than being the original creator. If you’re trying to rapidly generate growth across your social media channels, focus on producing original content that engages users while simultaneously exposing them to your brand.

Pay Attention to Analytics

Want to know the easiest way to grow your social media presence? Measure everything. You can’t optimize your marketing strategy without knowing what you need to change.

Engagement rates are an easy way to keep track of what types of content resonate with your audience and when the best times to post are. Always remember to take a look at your followers every once in a while and make sure your audience aligns with your target customer. If not, you may need to rethink what content you’re posting and adjust your targeting.

Create a Content Calendar

The more you start to grow on social media, the harder it will be to stay organized. When you’re running multiple accounts and posting two to three times a day, it’s easy to get behind and lose momentum.

Scrambling for headlines in the middle of the day right before you need to post isn’t a sustainable workflow. It’s crucial to plan your content out in advance. If you want to stay ahead of the game, take the time to sit down at the beginning of each week and build out a content calendar. When you start focusing on social media content for a few hours at a time, you’ll find it’s much easier to stay in the mindset and come up with gripping creative.

Be Consistent

If you want to get seen, you have to post every day—there’s no way around it. Every major social network penalizes users (in terms of feed ranking) for infrequent posting.

Once you find the best times to post for each day of the week, keep it consistent. Ideally, you want to become a regular component of your followers’ daily schedules.

In terms of content, make sure your profile has a theme. While it’s obviously encouraged to test different types of creative, don’t post random cat photos if your followers are there for daily fitness tips. Content curation has its place, but don’t repost random stuff just to get a few extra likes—a strong presence starts with a consistent brand message.

Regardless of how big your team is, hiring is a massive gamble for any business. Effective hiring is easily the most important aspect of successfully scaling a business—one bad hire can cause a major financial setback and kill your startups momentum.

The truth is, finding and recruiting quality employees that fit your team takes time. But like anything else, implementing the right strategy can make the hiring process much more approachable.

Every business is unique, and every team is going to need something slightly different. Finding the right person to fit the exact role you’re looking for can be daunting for teams of any size.

While it’s common for hiring managers to select potential employees based on previous job experience and achievements, looking at things like talent, tenacity, intelligence, willingness to learn and overall attitude are much better indications of how a potential candidate will fit into your team.

Nothing works quite as well as hiring for raw talent. Experience may be one indication of overall knowledge, but it doesn’t provide the scalability of hiring someone based on the immediate value they provide to your team.

Hiring for talent allows you to fill holes in your team more directly and provides future scalability in terms of job flexibility and project diversification.

Most recruiters and startups still prioritize previous business accolades over a candidate’s raw talent. This leaves a massive amount of untapped, undiscovered talent out on the market for your competitors to eventually leverage themselves.

Past Achievements Don’t Always Result In Future Success

More often than not, people typically assume experience automatically translates into talent. The problem is, this doesn’t give an opportunity to the people who haven’t had the chance to build their track record.

The same potential is there, and fresh talent will always be more eager to expand their role within your team.

Believe it or not, a lack of experience can actually be an asset in early hires. Candidates without exposure to previous jobs come to your team with a fresh perspective.

Potential hires without a set career path will always be more likely to take on new responsibilities and try different things—they haven’t yet developed the fear that inevitably comes with maintaining a reputation.

Prioritize People that Are Excited to Learn

It’s not too difficult to find intelligent employees for any role these days—the hard part is finding people who are excited to learn. At an early stage startup with loosely defined roles, hiring people that are willing to learn new skills and adapt to their environment is a crucial component of sustainable business growth.

Employees that are excited to learn makes your business more agile. Increased adaptability at the individual level helps you hire fewer people in the end. You never want to onboard people that are “too good” for certain roles or responsibilities.

It’s impossible to scale a business if you and your core team are afraid to get your hands dirty. As a startup, your early hires should be the most flexible. An adaptable team gives your business more internal security.

Spotting the Right Soft Skills in Potential Hires

Identifying specific traits can be hard when you’re searching for talent. While it’s best to give potential employees a hands-on project designed to test their individual abilities, it’s also important to step back and consider the bigger picture.

Teaching an engineer a new programming language is easy, but it’s hard to transform someone with a negative attitude into a contributing team member. While what you’re looking for is always going to depend on your individual business needs, here are a few of the most important soft skills to identify in anyone you’re thinking about hiring.

Tenacity

Early stage startups are never free of storms—you can’t expect smooth sailing across calm seas. If possible, look at past projects where your job candidate rose to the challenge and did something a little out of their comfort zone.

You don’t want to hire employees that will quit as soon as they hit their first roadblock. Your early hires—and any hires for that matter—should always be excited to take on new challenges and stick with you when the going inevitably gets tough.

Self-Awareness

Regardless of a job candidate’s past experience, look for people that take pride in their work. Whether or not a given employee cares about their reputation plays a huge role in the quality of work they will end up producing. Your best team members will always be those that are self-motivated.

Quality work comes from within. Hard skills like programming languages, email marketing, Facebook ads, and even content creation can all easily be taught. You can’t go wrong investing in the education of people that are self-aware, excited to learn, and ready to take on new challenges.

Positive Attitude

Unlike Adobe InDesign, you can’t teach someone to have a positive attitude. Onboarding an employee with attitude problems from the start will only lead to much larger problems for your team as a whole—especially at an early stage startup.

When it comes to building a sustainable team, creating a positive work culture is everything. When something inevitably goes wrong, having a positive attitude keeps your team glued together.

A person’s attitude during the job interview is an excellent indication of how they’ll perform in the workplace. Hire candidates that are willing to listen to criticism and improve themselves in order to elevate the team as a whole.

The Benefits of Turning a Blind Eye to Previous Experience

Fresh, inexperienced talent gives your team a new perspective. Going with less experienced job candidates allows lesser-known businesses to snag superstar talent without the superstar price tag.

The more credentials someone has, the more difficult they are to hire. And worse yet, a prestigious track record can lead to a significantly more complacent attitude down the road. Undiscovered talent is constantly chomping at the bit to prove themselves—hiring inexperienced employees leads to significantly more engaged team members down the road.

Remember, a person’s credentials are only worth the value you assign to them. The next time you’re looking to bring on a new team member, try forgetting about their experience and focusing on what unique value they provide to your business.

Website builders make it easy for entrepreneurs to validate their ideas and launch businesses without writing a single line of code.

As a small business, it’s not necessary to spend a few thousand dollars on a web development agency when you can just build a website yourself for less than $15 per month.

However, like anything else, it’s important to start by establishing the overall goals for your website. There’s a huge selection of website builders to choose from, so don’t worry if you’re having trouble finding the right one.

While every builder is different, some are definitely better than others. Here’s a quick overview of the four best website builders for entrepreneurs of any experience level looking to launch their next idea.

Wix

While most drag and drop website builders have a reputation for being over-complicated and difficult to use, Wix is easy for anyone, from experienced to designers to first-time website builders.

The blank canvas start and expansive library of tools give users the ability to create stunning custom websites from scratch.

With over 100 million users across nearly 200 countries, Wix is widely accepted as the best website builder for people that need complete control over their design.

Wix is a true blank canvas editor—and while typical site builders that start you off from scratch are cumbersome and disorganized, Wix combines high levels of customization with an easy-to-use interface.

Unlike most of the other blank canvas editors, Wix pays attention to the details. It’s the small features like being able to hide all toolbars and preview any page of your website with a single click that make Wix such an intuitive platform to use.

Despite the inherent messiness that comes with being this customizable, Wix makes up for it by giving users tons of control without the cost of hiring a full team of designers and programmers.

Features: 

  • Blog
  • Newsletter
  • Ecommerce
  • Membership system
  • iOS & Android Apps
  • True Blank Canvas
  • Restaurant Menu
  • Audio Player

Wix’s best features, its flexibility and customization options, are also its biggest downfalls. Wix isn’t the most organized website builder, and its editor lacks the refinement of other platforms such as Squarespace or Weebly.

Squarespace

As the oldest and arguably most well-known online website builder, Squarespace has carved itself a dedicated following by creating an extremely refined jack-of-all-trades platform for artists, entrepreneurs, and everyone in-between.

After launching in 2004, Squarespace has taken years to perfect its interface—and for the most part, constant refinement has paid off—Squarespace is by far and above the most polished website builder on the market.

One of Squarespace’s highlights is its massive range of gorgeous starter templates. Though most themes are beautiful to begin with, almost all of the elements are customizable depending on which one you select and what you’d like to change.

Squarespace also offers great customer service in the forms of a highly responsive chat and 24/7 email support.

Features: 

  • Blog
  • Newsletter
  • Ecommerce
  • Form Builder
  • iOS & Android Apps
  • Restaurant Menu
  • Audio Player
  • Themes

Despite being extremely customizable, Squarespace’s organization is quick to learn and easy to use. Every template starts you off with a few examples of Content Blocks, so the best way to get the hang of things is to just start playing around. The interface is linear, guided, flexible, yet understandable to anyone.

Weebly

Similar to Wix, Weebly is another drag and drop website editor that makes it easy to build highly customized websites without any prior knowledge of HTML or CSS.

Another benefit of Weebly is its expansive App Center—a place for users to find elements such as galleries, pricing charts, tables, information accordions, counters, FAQ sections, and even integrations with some popular Google apps.

Weebly offers a great blend of power and intuitiveness for people that want a refined, easy to use, highly customizable website builder.

You can start with a variety of simple themes and place custom text elements, images, and other components onto the body of your page. Weebly may not be as customizable as a platform like Wix, but it’s definitely more refined.

Weebly is lightyears ahead of its competition in terms of interfaces and subtle details like snap to grid, control over map elements, and customizable items in the App Center.

Features: 

  • Blog
  • Newsletter
  • Ecommerce
  • Membership System
  • Multi-Lingual Support
  • Form Builder
  • iOS & Android Apps
  • Restaurant Menu
  • Audio Player

Weebly is rapidly improving and is a solid option for anyone that needs high levels of customization in a well-rounded, easy to use package.

Strikingly

Strikingly is by far  the best builder for people looking to design a one-page website. One-page sites are a great way to get attention and encourage users to take action.

Another benefit of single page websites is how simple and fast they are to set up and publish. Most builders are terrible at creating one-page sites—as most of them are for extensive portfolios and commerce stores, they only end up making the process way too complicated.

Strikingly is best suited for simple sites with strong CTAs and large design elements. While its overall features list may not be the longest, Strikingly isn’t trying to fill the same niche as a website builder like Wix. That being said, when you want an extremely fast platform that makes it easy to build a captivating single page website, it’s hard to beat Strikingly’s themes and convenience.

Features: 

  • Blog
  • Ecommerce
  • iOS & Android Apps

If you’re looking for a quick way to build landing pages that make a bold impression, Strikingly is the way to go.

Always Stick with the Minimum

It’s easy to overestimate the scope of your website and pick something that only ends up overcomplicating your project. The fact is, most websites can be accomplished in a single page with a simple design. Think about your overall goals and growth the most basic platform possible.

Simplicity always wins when you’re trying to get the attention of potential customers.

Digital advertising channels have multiplied exponentially over the past few years, so startups looking to quickly grow awareness and generate leads have more options at their disposal than ever before.

This scenario can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have more opportunities available and won’t be shoehorned into a marketing channel that’s a poor fit. On the other, too many options can create choice paralysis, and you even risk spreading yourself too thin.

By defining your target market and pursuing them where they are most likely to be found, you can make smart choices for your marketing strategy and maximize your budget. I’ll also cover the respective strengths and weaknesses of the big channels at-a-glance to make your decision even easier.

Start by Knowing Your Customer

There is never going to be a 100% hard-and-fast answer to the question, “Which marketing channels should my startup use?” Every startup has a unique audience. The unique situation each startup finds themselves in can also affect the optimal choice to make. If you’re bootstrapping your business, chances are you’re going to want to make every penny go as far as possible.

To determine what your unique and ideal startup advertising strategy might be, start with your customers. True, you may not have many — if any — customers right now, but you have a solid idea of who your customers are. Otherwise, you would not have created your business in the first place.

Start by asking questions about your company and translating them into motivational traits for your audience:

  1. What are our core services? → Who would be the most excited about these services?
  2. Why should this person choose us over another guy? → What are they looking for that only we can provide?
  3. What type of person would genuinely love our services? → What are their goals, pain points, and what relatable key services/product features would interest them?
  4. How does our ideal audience look online for answers to their pain points or their goals? → If they are deliberately searching for options, where would they go? Also, if they happen to see an offering that catches their eye, where are they most likely to see it?

The answers to these questions can help you determine a buyer persona. Crafting buyer personas puts you in the shoes of your customers to ensure that you are speaking to their interests, not your company’s interests.

Big brands spend a great amount of money researching their customer base in order to define and refine buyer personas, but you likely won’t have that luxury. You can still make headway, however, by answering the questions above and looking to competitors.

Define Your Marketing Goals

The channel you decide to use should also correspond to your intended goals. Organic social media marketing may work well for awareness campaigns but generate low purchase conversions.

Possible goals include:

  • Lead generation
  • Growing brand awareness
  • Nurturing aware leads towards a purchase decision
  • Converting browsers into an end-of-funnel purchase

Options for Digital Advertising Channels

Once you have completed a buyer persona profile for your ideal customer and defined your goals, then you can start to weigh the merits of each digital advertising channel and how it could work within the persona’s preferences.

Options for digital marketing include:

  • Content marketing
  • SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Influencer marketing

Now, let’s briefly go over the strengths of each channel and why certain startup types might want to use it.

Content Marketing

STRENGTHS

  • Can be low-cost or no-cost
  • Helps you nurture leads, and gives them information about what you actually do
  • Can help you become a thought leader or go-to resource when done properly

WEAKNESSES

  • No guaranteed impressions without cross-promotion on other channels
  • Wide range of industry engagement rates; can be fairly low unless you have a paid or organic way to funnel leads to your content

WORKS BEST FOR

  • Startups with more complex or unfamiliar concepts; content can help explain what a product does and why someone would need it
  • Brands needing to differentiate in competitive or commoditized markets
  • Everyone should have some form of content on their site; increases odds of SEO ranking and provides answers to basic client questions

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

  • Content can include low time investments, like blog posts, or time-intensive things, like webinars, videos, ebooks and more
  • Start off with 5-10 blog posts that explain your core service areas or important concepts in your field; these can serve as assets when building relationships

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

STRENGTHS

  • Low-cost way to obtain leads through search engines
  • Ranking high in search brings in leads; 30% engagement for pages that rank first, 12% to those who rank second, near-zero for those not on the first search engine results page (SERP)
  • Maximizes the value of existing web page and content assets

WEAKNESSES

  • Can take a long time for efforts to result in high rankings in competitive fields
  • No guaranteed impressions compared to paid advertising

WORKS BEST FOR

  • All startups to ensure they follow basic SEO practices for their website
  • Startups with a high search volume, such as “email automation”
  • Startups with harder-to-define products; optimize for intent-based searches, like “how to calculate car loan payments” for a car dealer-oriented app

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

  • Bare minimum SEO should be table stakes for every company
  • Use search referral volume to determine potential gains

Social Media Marketing

STRENGTHS

  • Having a social media presence serves as a secondary website for your brand
  • Building a social page can enhance SEO and capture in-platform searches
  • Paid social ads can have laser-precision targeting parameters to help you find the perfect audience, (e.g., LinkedIn lets you target by job title and rank)
  • Being able to tag specific users and drive post engagement can quickly grow your reach

WEAKNESSES

  • Diminishing returns for organic engagement, especially at first
  • 45% of people have never made a purchase after seeing a paid social ad

WORKS BEST FOR

  • All startups; create social media profile on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn at minimum and post at least once a week to maintain a presence
  • Any startup with a personality-rich brand can use organic social to grow an audience
  • Targeted ads to generate awareness within high-value audiences

Email Marketing

STRENGTHS

  • Another low-cost option with high ROI potential (sometimes 3,800%!)
  • Good for keeping leads constantly in your funnel at all stages
  • Helps with retention and nurturing
  • Can increase brand affinity through meaningful 1:1 conversations

WEAKNESSES

  • Email marketing practically requires an automation system; luckily, most services are at low or no cost for startups

WORKS BEST FOR

  • Startups looking to nurture captured leads
  • Startups where retention is critical, such as SaaS products

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

  • Email marketing depends entirely on the strength of your subject lines, templates, and overall brand voice; write emails you would want to read, not immediately trash!

Influencer Marketing

STRENGTHS

  • Can cause your audience to multiply incredibly rapidly
  • Instills trust (e.g., “60% of YouTube subscribers say they would follow advice on what to buy from their favorite YouTube creator over a traditional celebrity”)
  • Often flexible budgeting; some influencers may even talk about your product if you just offer them freebies

WEAKNESSES

  • Often difficult to choose best-fit influencer by reputation and audience
  • Some influencers may not make brand-safe statements, tarnishing a startup by association
  • Influencers with large audiences have started to charge up to six figures for a promo

WORKS BEST FOR

  • Startups looking to differentiate their product or grow awareness
  • Startups with a niche/enthusiast audience

Know Your Customer and Your Goals, and the Right Digital Advertising Channels Will Come to You

Once your brand defines your ideal buyer persona and its individual goals, the channels to use will fit together like pieces of a puzzle. All brands should have a bare minimum level of:

  • Website content to read
  • Social media profile
  • Email strategy
  • SEO best practice use

However, those that want to invest further in these channels or those explored above can reap huge returns if they fit their strategy to their ultimate goals.

Also, remember that no one gets everything right at first! Start small, experiment and build up your efforts based on what works and what doesn’t.

In just four short years, Slack has amassed over 5M daily active users and 1.5M paid accounts. To most of its users, the team-based messaging app is a lot more than a way to connect with colleagues—it’s a culture—stemming largely from the disruptive nature of the software startup itself.

While most office software takes advantage of muted colors and robotic copy to help users fall asleep at the desk, Slack feels playful, taking advantage of a blissfully simply interface, vibrant colors, and lots of emojis to make the digital office feel a little more like a giant group chat.

One of Slack’s most useful aspects is its long list of integrations, apps, and chatbots. Similar to the early days of the App Store, developers have made it possible to do almost anything right from Slack. From daily web traffic reports to team-wide polls, Slack’s most popular apps have you covered.

Browsing the long list of apps for Slack can be daunting—here’s a list of a few Slackbots and integrations that’ll help you stay organized and streamline the way your team collaborates.

Google Docs

When it comes to cloud-based team collaboration across documents and files, Google has always been the industry standard. If your team works digitally, it’s likely you’re already using a few of Google’s products.

Google Docs makes it easy to share documents and collaborate on projects. Sign up is free, and there’s no limit to the number of documents you can create or share.

The Slack integration makes it even easier to share documents with your team. Simply copy and paste the URL into any channel or chat and your document will be shared according to your document’s sharing preferences.

In a sense, Slack+Google Drive almost completely eliminates the need for communication and document sharing over email. It takes fewer clicks, and having the added benefit of threaded messages makes it easier to keep track of the conversation.

Trello

In a nutshell, Trello helps teams organize projects by taking advantage of vertical lists and movable cards. You can also assign cards, add due dates, and subdivide cards into multiple checklists. Most of Trello’s features are free to you and your team forever (including both Slack apps), and upgrading to Gold will get you access to a whole host of Power-Ups (think apps for Trello) and extra abilities.

Trello has two separate apps for Slack, one that allows you to get notifications about your Trello boards in various Slack channels, and another that allows you to edit the content of boards, create lists, and move cards without ever having to leave Slack.

If you’re using Trello to manage ongoing projects, enabling Trello Alerts through Slack is a great way to update the entire team about a project’s details simultaneously, greatly reducing the need for sit-down meetings.

Using the Trello app within specified channels makes it easy to create and edit lists, publish cards, and assign tasks to teammates.

In a sense, you can take advantage of all of Trello’s best features without ever having to visit the app itself.

Google+ Hangouts

For distributed teams, frequent video meetings are a mainstay of solid communication. Hangouts are great, but sending links over email and scheduling digital calendar events can get hectic quickly.

The Google+ Hangouts app for Slack is simple but essential. With the /hangout command, you and everyone in the channel you’re in will get a link to the Hangout and a control panel right in the channel.

Don’t waste your time hunting through hundreds of emails for the right invitation—just type /hangout and join.

To-do bot

To-do bot is an incredibly simple task management application for Slack teams of all sizes. Slack may have its own reminder system, but it’s hard to organize large projects. To-do bot makes it easier by grouping tasks according to channel and adding a more intuitive interface.

To-do bot is currently forever free for its existing feature list, so it’s the perfect application for teams looking to add more functionality to their reminders app without losing efficiency.

Polly

For larger teams, polls are a great way to get quick insight into your business’s internal operations. From sprint planning to worker satisfaction, Polly makes it easy for teams to create native, multi-question Slack polls that garner more participation than email and web-based surveys.

Polly offers a wide range of templates, anonymity for responders, recurring/scheduled polls and surveys, and automated reminders. This bot is great for anything from weekly satisfaction surveys as well as daily stand-up meetings.

GrowthBot

This is where things start to get fun. GrowthBot is like a highly specialized version of Siri specifically for digital marketers. It can instantly tell you your daily website traffic, give you tips on email outreach, or even tell you which keywords a particular website ranks for.

Here’s a small list of the things you can have GrowthBot help you with:

  1. Company info about freshbooks.com
  2. Lookup email dharmesh@hubspot.com
  3. What keywords does buffer.com rank for?
  4. What PPC keywords is uber.com buying?
  5. What marketing software does zendesk.com use?
  6. Show me a funny cartoon
  7. Which products do you integrate with
  8. Show me a random example of what you can do

GrowthBot’s feature list is too long to summarize—if you want to know the rest, you’re just going to have to try it.

The Lay of the Land

Slack’s enormous user growth has changed the way teams interact with workplace applications. The dreary software typically associated with project planning, document collaboration, team communication, and task management has officially been revitalized by Slack’s colorful work culture.

Instant messaging is something all of us are used to, and being able to text new tasks to your project planning app brings the workplace a little closer to home.

For teams with largely distributed components, taking advantage of Slack apps is must if you expect to stay organized. But remember, don’t overdo it—too many integrations will only make collaboration more cumbersome. Sometimes a simple message really is the best way to communicate.