How to jump-start social media when no one knows your company

It’s easy to make noise when you are the head of state. Both Lee Hsien Loong and Donald Trump are two (good and bad) examples of how to engage millions of people.

                                                                   

While the impact of social media is undeniable, not every business enjoys the reach of someone in the limelight. Though it’s hard to make noise when no one knows about your company, inaction is infinitely worse.

Before you jump the gun, you have to make a commitment to regularly update your business’ social media accounts. Ideally, appoint someone to be your social media manager, as it’s something you have to consistently work at to see benefits – ranging from direct communication with your customers to reaching people that never heard of your business.

Here’s how to get started:

Where is your audience?


With an array of social media platforms out there, you don’t need to be everywhere. To get your social media presence kickstarted, you’ll need to know where your audience is. If you are a B2B company, you are more likely to start conversations on Twitter or LinkedIn, while an e-commerce can better engage with users on Instagram and Facebook.

If you are unsure about what you should do on your social media channels, check out these do’s and don’ts of social media. This is where you’ll learn about how to reach your target audience and the tangible results you’ll be able to reap from it.

What are your goals?

                                                             

Bear in mind that you’re just starting out – so don’t be unrealistic with your goals. For newcomers like you, it’s recommended that you focus on consistency and growth to really make your social media game work.

For consistency, work on:
– Lock in a set number of days to plan posts and work on your social media presence. A good start will be 3-4 days a week.
– Create new content at least once a week to beef up your content library. This can be a new set of photos, a blog post or a video about your business.

For growth, work on:
Setting a goal for how many followers you want to gain by a certain date. Every business grows differently, so plan accordingly. Having a number to work towards will make things clearer.

If you want to start with a bang, you should consider working with social media influencer – Increasing engagement for your posts. Instead of asking your family and friends to share your posts to get the algorithm working, you might want to do a giveaway to start getting shares and traction.

What’s in your content library?


Gather all of your content into one folder that your team can access. This will be your content pool where you’ll go to find images, old news clippings, videos or anything relating to your business. If you make it a habit to populate this folder, your planning will be easier in the future. A good way to start your content pool is using your website’s content. You can always repurpose and use it for social content. While doing this, you’ll also probably start to visualise what sort of content you’ll want up on your social media channels.

Other content ideas:

  • New product updates to keep people interested
  • Introduce new team members to make your brand more human
  • Insights from conferences to show you are a thought leader
  • Behind the scenes snapshots for a positive image
  • Giveaways and contests to expand your reach
  • Photo albums for the user’s visual pleasure

Which brings us to the next point…

Have you created a social media calendar?

It doesn’t have to be anything too complicated. All you need is a handy excel sheet that keeps track of the content that you’re planning to post, or have already posted. This will also come in handy when you’re brainstorming for new social media ideas. It also makes it easier for everyone to share ideas. A well-kept calendar will also help you to plan your social media campaigns more efficiently.

What conversation are you joining?

Now that you’re sorted, it’s time to be part of all that social media chatter. Have a look at what’s trending by gathering some data and see where your brand can be part of the conversation. Controversial topics aren’t a strict no-no and may sometimes help your brand to stand out. But make sure that your company has actually something to offer or say about the topic. You have to remember that the social media world can be harsh and controversial topics can easily backfire. But in the end – it’s still up to you to decide if it will work for your organisation or not.

Need help with managing your social media campaigns? Drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.sg.

 

FunTech: Make that content cray

Making tech sound complicated is easy. Just whir adjectives, buzzwords, and punctuation into a blender and you have the first boilerplate for many startups. But making unsexy topics sound fun is totally do-able, it’s just a matter of finding a creative angle.

Almost all industries require content because words travel fast. So, to effectively create articles that are more fun and engaging, try these simple tips:

Warm up with your intro

The beginning of the article has the most room for weirdness. Feel free to start off with a joke, or a topic everybody can relate to. For example, if you’re writing about your newest cloud platform, talk about the issue that it’s solving rather than getting deep into the features right away. Or pick a hot news topic to spin off of. I.e. “While we can’t take #brexit back, at least we’ll be able to…” Riding a news hook for your blog is great for SEO and will lure the reader in right away.

Quote more interesting people

As a content writer you’re not going to be an expert at everything, so get the opinion of someone who does. A quote from an expert (especially a funny one) can really bring a piece of writing to life.  If you don’t have anyone specific, quote someone who has an excellent view point on the subject.

Check your tone

Don’t be too formal. Geek speak will soak up the fun like a mouthful of Scottish Shortbread without a glass of milk in sight. Sarcasm, humour and wit can be carried across any topic. Be upbeat so it’ll be easier for your audience to read it. Happy readers means more shares.

Be concise

A super wordy post will cast your reader’s eyes from your blog to instagram memes in 30 seconds or less. If there is a word that can be taken out, remove it, if there is one word that can replace three, replace it. The fewer words the better.

Here’s a tip: Show don’t tell. Instead of saying something is ‘smart, innovative, state of the art, revolutionary’, explain how it works, why it’s different, and lead the reader to come up with his own adjectives.

Pick a picture outside of the box

Alright alright, the ol’ ‘hands on the keyboard’ photo is always a great default for online blog topics, but take your stock photo game one step further. The image should illustrate the article you write, but not imitate it. Use metaphors with your imagery and people will be able to channel more than just what meets the eye. For example, you’re writing about how a certain app can connect us all, a picture of laughing people in a crowd, skyscrapers, globes, or even traffic can still elicit the feeling of ‘ connection’. Making the reader work just a little bit will help them remember your article.

Writing is hard

 

And there you have it! Making content go a little cray just takes some imagination, creativity, and thinking outside the box. Need more advice on adding a little zing to your content? Write to us at hello@mutant.com.sg.

 

You can’t do everything

This feature is part of a regular series”Getting frank with Joe” giving you a brutally frank, yet realistic look at the business world.

When you run your own business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing no one has the same passion and drive that you have. You’ll think other people’s way of doing everything isn’t how you would do it, the quality and attention to detail isn’t at the level you have, and the drive and passion behind it simply isn’t there.

The ironic thing is that you are correct. Your business is your baby and you cannot expect people to have the same investment in it without the emotional and financial input you have had.

But it also doesn’t matter. Seriously, stop complaining and be a solutions person.

Having worked with dozens of startups, this is one factor I regularly see that impacts the long term viability of a company – no matter its market potential.

Focus on growing your business

In a small business it’s easy to oversee all activity and influence everything. That’s cool if you want to stay a small business, but I’m guessing you don’t. If you are spending all your time overseeing everything, you need to ask yourself how effective you can be actually growing your business.

You know what you are good at, so why not focus on that? Get other people to do the other work to free you up.

Different doesn’t mean worse

When you hire someone else to do a job, I guarantee that 95% of the time they won’t do it exactly how you would. You need to get over that. I don’t mean throw quality to the wind, I mean get used to people doing things differently.

It’s better to get something happening, than to kill time and slow your growth doing everything yourself.

If quality drops when you step away, or your staff aren’t performing, then invest your time into training rather than instantly taking over every function. If things don’t improve, fire them, and hire someone better.

Interns are not a growth solution

I’ve seen this a lot and I think it’s worth slotting in here as a standalone point. If you are trying to resource your company by stacking it full of interns, you are going down a dangerous path. Yes they are cheap and enthusiastic, but they are also inexperienced and short-term.

By all means, have your interns to help lighten the load, but don’t treat them as a replacement to hiring experienced, capable professionals.  

Experience is sometimes worth the spend

When you hire for any specialist role, make sure you’re getting someone who knows what they are doing and are experienced in the field. It’s worth the extra money.

If you are tight on finances the argument is the same. It’s better to have someone who is experienced and great working for three days a week, rather than paying the same for a full-time junior who needs constant support and checking.   

Specialists are specialists for a reason

If you are using an agency or have a senior hire, listen to what they say. This doesn’t mean you can’t have input – it means that you don’t ignore their warnings without an extremely good reason.

I’ve seen so many CEOs of all-sized businesses decide they know better and interfere in a process they, quite frankly, have no business getting involved in.

You might have read the newspaper every day for your entire adult life or even been interviewed a couple of times, but it doesn’t mean you know more about the media than the trained specialists you are paying, who have dedicated their working lives to getting results for clients.

I know all of this is easier said than done, but if you invest your time and resources towards making sure the people around you are capable and awesome, the payoff is massive.

Have a question? Why not drop us a note at hello@mutant.com.sg.

 

Is your startup ready to launch? Probably not.

You’ve got two engineers, a cool co-working space, a product in the works, angel funding, and a registered company name. Congrats! You’ve done a bunch of productive stuff, but it’s not enough to introduce your company to the world.

There are several fundamental steps you need to do before consulting a PR agency for the launch of your product or service. There is a common misalignment in a startup’s timeline, where the founder feels they need to get media attention for their half developed idea first, then raise more funding to complete the world’s greatest product.

Sorry friends, it’s the other way around – you need to develop a working prototype before letting your freak flag fly in the media – otherwise you’ll spend a lot of cheddar building a product with features nobody needs.

Some startups tend to think first about how they can scale their idea before they have a working product. But let’s say you spend $200 on Facebook ads, get some downloads – but your app is buggy, or has a three second loading time – that’s an automatic uninstall. Figure out first if it can be used and sold before spending tons of cash on it.

There’s only one chance to launch, so before calling up a PR company and selecting the fillings of your mini sandwiches for media, make sure you have the following, in this order.

1x solid MVP

The MVP (minimum viable product) is a working product with core features, let’s say version 1.0 of your product that lets you gain insight as to whether the world actually needs it. There’s no purpose in spending your savings building the Uber App if you don’t develop a functional “driver”  account that makes you scale the adoption among drivers.

20 x friends

Well, they could just be colleagues or neighbours – individuals who will not blast you on social media if the product is buggy. You need at least 20 people who are using the MVP and are willing to give you feedback. Here you need to ask, do people love it? Do they need it? Will this gain traction? Will they trash if after five uses? You need to build a product that can gain traction before scaling.

Feedback

It’s better to do repairs or a pivot BEFORE you launch than after you launch. A company that has an identity crisis doesn’t look good to the media. Once you have some local users, this is the opportunity to do some A/B testing, improve on the UX, and even at this early stage you still have resources to pivot if you realise no one needs blue tooth dog collars. Now ask, is it going to be scalable?

[Spoiler alert Silicon Valley S3]: You don’t want to end up like Richard when Jack Barker’s cuts up Pied Piper to make it easier to sell via the ‘Conjoined Triangles of Success’ to make it more profitable.

10x pieces of good content

Let’s say you’ve launched early and the media are flooding to your Facebook page. But umm, there isn’t anything on here except 1 post from your mom that says ‘I’m proud of you!’ Have someone create content on your company website just to show that you are truly interested in the issue you’re solving.

5 x brand ambassadors

We don’t mean the tanned and toned Instagram influencer who holds ANYTHING for $500 a post, we mean a real human being who truly LOVES your idea and product. If you have social friends who are ranting and raving with one another about your idea, then it brings some legitimacy to your product. An enthusiastic brand ambassador is worth more than any advertisement at this point.

1x small community

Once you have some people who love your product or service, it’s enough to start a community. This can just be a minimum of ten people who are talking about your dope product online. Successful startups have kicked off because there was a community around an already existing common issue: ‘Jon realised he couldn’t get meatloaf online, ‘til he met Peter and Jim who also wanted to digitise the meatloaf industry’.

People might not know they need your specific product, but if they meet other people who love it, they might realise they have been missing your product their whole life.

Always remember to start small, very very small. Do that small thing very well and invest in making it better for your fans. Only then can you grow and improve. This will reduce the amount of money wasted on building and selling a product that nobody wants.

Get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.sg.

This article was first published in Tech in Asia on 11th May 2016

I’ve launched an entire company on my own, I can do my own PR, right?

The email addresses of the reporters are online, I have friends of friends who can introduce me to some reporters at Channel NewsAsia. I can save some money and do my own PR, right?

Well you could. Then again, you could also buy your own property without an agent and represent yourself in court. The question is then, would that really be the best way forward?

The most important thing about PR is not the media contacts, it’s the narrative. What an agency can provide is a seasoned ear that can counsel you on what exactly are the really juicy stuff that would be interesting to press and then find a way to package it.

You know that saying: “When you are too close to a situation (in this case your business) you can’t see the big picture”? This is exactly that.

If we had donated a dollar to charity for every time a client wanted to release to media the outcome of an “internal meeting” or “upcoming revolutionary product upgrade”, the world would be a better place.

So back to packaging, how do we do it exactly? Here’s the secret. We take a magical blend of the following:

  • Your objective for the PR effort (e.g. get more users to your product, build buzz before an upcoming IPO?)
  • Your key messages (e.g. what makes your business special in the market? Reliability? Cost-effectiveness? Proven R&D?)
  • Your initiative / announcement (e.g. Doubling your headcount in Singapore? Tie-up/partnership with another firm for an initiative? Received a round of funding?)

We will use all this information to provide journalists and influencers with a comprehensive narrative that will articulate your brand in the best way possible.

Without the narrative, you may still get the coverage, but trust us, it won’t have the same impact on the readers. There’s nothing worse than securing a big interview but losing the story because the message was lost. It won’t leave a lasting impression.

Need help kickstarting your next PR campaign? Get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.sg.

Getting frank with Joe Part 1: “No one cares if you are a startup”

Okay, maybe your friends, family and investors do — but that’s about it. The rest of the world couldn’t care less that you are a startup.

They say they care, they think they care, they like the idea of it and the romance of it all, but they don’t really care. Don’t blame them; I’m sure they are nice people, but at the end of the day, their love of supporting a startup goes no deeper than an immediate reaction.

This might come as a bit of a shock because your business is everything to you. To you. Allow me to run you through a few home truths to help you avoid falling on your face when it comes to managing a successful startup.

Your target market doesn’t owe you anything

You can certainly leverage being a startup in your branding and to tap into natural sympathy and support. You can even cultivate pro-startup audiences and have your brand develop and evolve over time.

But be under no illusion that most people won’t hesitate to drop you if they have any issues or face any barriers.

They will gladly move back to their safe corporate, mass market product if you impact their consumer experience in any way. It’s simply the nature of the beast.

Don’t be a loser

Always be positive around friends, contacts, clients… anyone.

Why? When you talk about your business, even your closest friends are making subconscious decisions about you and your company, and when they have the opportunity to refer you to one of their friends or contacts, they know their reputation and credibility is also at stake.

If all they hear from you is complaints about staff or how tough it is, they are going to form a negative image of you and are less likely to make the referral.

But when you are positive and they feel like you are on the up and up, well, everyone loves a winner.

This is not necessarily a conscious decision. And yes, if you are too positive, you run the risk of not sounding genuine. No one believes any entrepreneur who says it is all smooth sailing.

Try something like this:

Friend: “Hey mate, how’s business?”

You: “Really good. Cashflow is a total pain in my arse but we are getting some really strong traction.”

Boom. You get your gripe out, but the positives outweigh it and you still sound like a winner.

Don’t let your bubble become a crutch

I often come across founders or staff from startups who are extremely tapped into the startup scene, constantly patroning drinks, networking events and conferences. In many ways this is great – you will learn something from your peers in this space and you’ll have a good time. They will be a valuable source of tips, advice and a sympathetic ear, but it does not replace your need to get out into the real world.

Unless your company or brand is aimed at the startup community, no one cares if you are friends with a dozen different CEOs of bootstrapped enterprises. By all means keep your toe in the scene, but the law of diminishing returns exists even for your own time. Instead, think about who your target audience is or what you want to achieve, and go where they go.

Don’t be a wuss

Toughen up. It’s supposed to be hard.

Recently, I was blown away when a startup I was meeting with said they couldn’t meet before 11am because that’s when they arrive at the office. Seeing my shocked expression they followed up with, “Oh don’t worry, we work really late. Like until 8, sometimes 9.”

It was clear they had bought into the romanticised version of their own story – staying up late working over Red Bulls and pizza with the occasional break to play Xbox. Meanwhile they are barely doing a normal day’s work because they don’t turn up until lunch.

I’m all for work life balance, but if you are serious about your startup, you are going to have to haul arse.

There is more to having a startup than proudly proclaiming it.

So basically, ignore the fact you are a startup in your day-to-day work life. Your number one priority is to move your business forward, so focus on that. Don’t let the hype or romanticism blind you. Be awesome every single day and get on with being successful.

If you have any questions just get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.sg.

This blog was first published in Tech in Asia on 19th April 2016

A guide to writing a press kit

Whether you’re preparing to launch a new business venture or you’re already up and running, a public relations strategy to boost the exposure of your brand should sit snugly inside your long-term business plans.

When we work with new clients, before delving into the nitty gritty process of media pitching, we help companies to write and prepare a media kit, or press kit, to help introduce them to members of the media.

Of course, this is something you can do yourself, although we would recommend engaging an agency to assist you in the process. We deal with the media on a daily basis, and know exactly what they need and what they’re looking for!

What is a press kit?

A physical or digital press kit is a thoughtful curation of vital information about your brand and organisation – from a company biography, biographies of key business leaders and photos.

A digital press kit is everyone’s preferred method of information distribution, as this makes it easy to send out to journalists. Its content can also be updated quickly when the need arises. A physical press kit offers more room for creativity, and is generally used when you’re meeting members of the press face-to-face.

When on a budget, forget about the fancy, extravagant physical kits that may cost a little to design. Begin with something simple like a Dropbox or a Google Drive folder.

Put yourself in the shoes of a journalist

With packed schedules, journalists rarely have the luxury of time to sift through a massive amount of information to piece their stories together.

It’s never good news if they have to look beyond your press kit to get basic information, even for details like your store address or your opening hours. This is why the information in your media kit needs to be clear, concise and easy to access.

There are a range of things that can go into your press kit, but make sure you don’t forget the following essentials:

  • Your company biography

Imagine telling someone the story of your business. Share how you started, when you started, what sparked your business idea, and the gaps or problems you address through your solutions or products.

Present all of that information in a succinct paragraph or two of text, and drop them in your press kit. While this information may not always be published as part of a journalist’s content, it offers clear insights to your company’s background and of course, to what you do. It will also help them decide whether you are someone they might want to interview for articles they have coming up.

  • Biographies of key company representatives

You need to introduce your business’s key founder or spokespeople, so the media know who the best people are to interview. Include the profiles of any key players whose profiles you’d like to raise through their biographies – such as the founder, the CEO, or the MD.

Don’t forget to include their photographs, as well as succinct information about their professional histories and one or two more personal details. This will give the media a good all-around idea of who they are.

  • Your brand logo

Include this in various colours, sizes, resolutions and formats, if you can!

This will allow journalists to publish your logo along with their content in the most suitable form, whether it’s in the print or online medium – or if you’re lucky, on both platforms.

  • Any relevant existing company press releases

From a product launch announcement to the introduction of a new member in the organisation – if you’ve got it, include it. The key here, though, is to ensure any press releases are relevant.

They can be a fantastic point of reference for the journalists to work off for their stories, and past releases can also be filed away as the journalists’ own sources. When the potential opportunity for a story relevant to your product or expertise arises, your company stays at the top of the journalists’ minds.

  • Your contact details

Think about who the media should contact, over the phone or email, should they have any queries pertaining to your business or press materials. This person needs to be someone who is knowledgeable about your products, easily contactable, and can also quickly revert to the media in the shortest time frame.

  • Other relevant product photos

If you’re launching a new product or have existing products, consider including some professionally taken product photos. Hire a proper photographer if you can – no journalist will want to publish dimly lit or poorly taken iPhone snaps.

These photos can also be reused for other purposes such as on your website or for social media purposes, so it’s usually worth the investment.

If you would like help launching a PR strategy for your business or startup, get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.sg 

6 phases of a PR campaign for pre-launch startups

So, you’ve got a great product or service. You’ve tried and tested your amazing idea and you’re sure it’s going to solve a big problem in people’s lives. All you need to do is get the word out there and before you know it, hoards of people will soon be using it and sharing it with their friends.

Right?

Quite often here at Mutant, we see a pattern of pre-launch startups approaching us for PR, social and content activities a month (or even less) before their big launch. While it’s great our services are being sought out, it’s not ideal for startups – or for a PR campaign – to have such a short lead-in time. It’s something that you should be thinking about months in advance to plan your content, generate interest and kick-start press coverage.

Magazines work two months in advance, so if you’re hoping for print interviews and features, you need to be working to their timings.

These days there are more activities than ever for startups to think about. PR, social media, video content, blogs, marketing, SEO, SEM – the list goes on. This can be really overwhelming for a small team with a limited budget. All these activities will help you in different ways, but applying a small combination of them – or placing a large focus on one or two from the list – will help you go a long way.

For the purpose of this post we’ll focus solely on PR, going through the tasks and stages you should be thinking about before engaging an agency for help to execute.

  1. Writing a press release: What’s your angle?

Finding the right angle for your initial press release is the most important starting point. What do you want to highlight to the media and the public the very first time they hear about your business?

Ideally it’s your USP – your Unique Selling Proposition – which could be anything from innovation around great service, famous founders, game-changing food or venue, the solution to an industry-wide problem, the biggest, fastest, strongest product in its field, etc.

There are so many things you probably want to say, but you only have one shot to grab attention with a catchy angle and main headline. Make sure it really stands out.

  1. Press release tips to keep in mind
  • Make sure your news is timely – it has to be about now. Include dates and timings if applicable in your release.
  • Write all the main points in your first two sentences. Some journalists and bloggers might not read beyond this. Include the What, When, Where, Why and How of your story.
  • Make sure your release includes one or two quotes from key people, such as a company founder or an expert in the field. Make it easy for the press to extract a succinct quote that outlines the purpose of your launch.
  • Add in contact details for further enquiries or interview requests.
  • Put in a link to your press kit at the end.
  1. Putting together a press kit

By using something as simple as Dropbox, put together a folder of all the information the press may need to access about you. This can include biographies of key people, your company profile, high resolution photos, videos (if applicable), FAQs and, of course, your press release.

This way, media have all the information they need to write about you, making it much more probable that they will cover you. No one likes to go back and forth while collating an article.

  1. Pitch the right story to the right journalists

This is the most important step of all. There is no point pitching a tech story to a fashion magazine or a lifestyle angle to a business journalist.

Your business is likely to appeal to different sectors and industries. Alongside your PR agency, this can help you segment what aspects of your company will appeal to different journalists. For example, if you’ve created a lifestyle app that reviews restaurants, you would want to pitch your story to F&B magazines and lifestyle sections of daily newspapers.

But let’s take it one step further. If you’re willing to divulge figures, why not approach tech and business publications to announce your Series A funding? If you’ve got an interesting personal story, why not approach women’s and men’s magazines for a profile interview? If you’re not sure about the best way to do this, an agency can help streamline this process to ensure maximum coverage.

  1. Follow up

Distributing a press release is only half the job. Editors receive hundreds of press releases and are likely to have vaguely skimmed through yours or missed it completely. A follow-up call and email (or multiple) is a must.

Make sure it’s as targeted as possible and that you really understand the publication you’re pitching to. Know their specific sections well – for example, if they have a ‘Day in the life of…’ section and you think your daily schedule would slot perfectly into that, then pitch for that specifically. The more specific you are, the more likely you will get an answer from the journalist.

  1. Track

Make sure you’re tracking coverage, setting up Google alerts and keeping an eye on all listings and stories that come out. This sounds very obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people look back and can’t seem to find the article from two years ago that appeared in the local newspaper. Make sure physical print stories are scanned and saved for future reference.

This is just a tiny guide to get you started. The best way to carry out a full campaign is to engage with a PR company who already has established press contacts and experience. But when you’re pre-Series A or even pre-seed funding and are doing everything on your own savings, this can be difficult to budget.

If you’d like more advice on how to get started with PR, content and social, feel free to get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.sg.