How does social media fit into your startup culture?
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Image Credit: Dmitri Otis / Getty Images Israel

Social Media is about more than just the face you show the outside world. It can say a lot about who you are inside your startup

If you are startup in this day and age, you certainly have a Twitter, a Facebook, and a LinkedIn account. You probably even have a YouTube channel, and maybe an Instagram, a Pinterest or even a SnapChat just to cover all of your bases. At a bare minimum you use it to share your company updates and respond to customer inquiries. Hopefully you also use it to cultivate customer relationships.

Internally, you almost certainly use a communication tool Slack or Yammer to funnel your team conversations.

So beyond all the time we spend on our own personal social networks, we spend a lot of time being influenced by our own startup’s social media. But despite that omnipresence, we don’t often think about how both internal and public-facing social media can shape our own startup culture.

Today we’re hopefully going to change that with some tips for how to cultivate culture via social media, and then we’ll even end with a challenge to you and your team!

How to use internal communication to discover and drive company culture

You probably invest in your public social media—maybe even with one or more full-time positions—but not so much in your small business’s internal communications. I’m addressing the internal first because I think it is actually the more important one. Your internal social media like Slack, Yammer or your own intranet is one of the most essential investments you make, whether you work in the same office, remotely scattered around the world or somewhere in between, it builds a written record of your culture and it dramatically affects your retention rates.

E27 Asian entrepreneur resource uses Slack as a way to keep their completely open floor plan office super casual and then focus on work online, organizing it based on projects, instead of ever having to have a closed off conference room.

Groove, the 100 percent remote help desk company, uses Slack to hold virtual daily stand-up meetings to talk about what everyone is working on. They even have a Water Cooler channel which is strictly for non-work discussion because culture is who you are, not what you do.

Make sure your admin settings allow anyone to create a public or private Slack channel and any Yammer group they want. This will cultivate self-organization. It will also let you open conversations up so you can see what are important topics your team wants to talk about, allowing you to identify your startup’s culture.

Once you have discovered an emergent company culture, you can then use Slack to emphasize it. Try creating channels that focus specifically on that value. You should have at least one that encourages kudos or shout-outs or gratitude only, where people can publicly thank and acknowledge teammates, because that is a value any company should keep prominent!

How your external social media affects your startup culture and brand

We tend to get very boilerplate-y and corporate-y on professional social media. After all, startups are surely starved on time and auto-scheduling all that evergreen content is better than nothing, right? Sure, that’s a start, but you cannot create a community by only talking about yourself. You’ve got to share a bit of your company, a lot of your culture, and a lot more!

What about letting one teammate a week post whatever he or she wants on the company social media? Or try having a sponsored and public team member in charge of sharing one thing a day on each of the major social networks. Instead of siloing social media to one or two coworkers, make it an inclusive part of your whole team.

And to let anyone get involved, you can run Q&As on Twitter, letting strangers and friends (put them up to it) interview your founder or perhaps just different team members.

You’ve got to develop a habit of sharing content from other companies that have similar company values. Also brag about your customers. Create content that is only geared to highlighting them (and not what they got out of you, that belongs on your testimonials page.)

Don’t take it all so seriously! Remember, funny and photogenic posts are much more likely to be shared and gain you followers, so have a little fun!

Photo credit: Caiaimage/Sam Edwards / Getty Images Israel

Photo credit: Caiaimage/Sam Edwards / Getty Images Israel

Challenge: Could you #gopositive on social media for one week?

It sounds easy, but just review your Facebook activity over the last weekend. How often did you share bad news or react with an angry or teary-eyed emoji to someone else’s post? We don’t live exactly in a very positive news cycle right now, but what if we were to just be positive for one week?

We challenge you to sign this Social Media Positivity Pact and #gopositive from September 8 through September 15, 2016. Try challenging your whole team to try it on both internal and external social media. It’ll be a fun culture activity that’ll have everyone policing each other.

Why not just go positive always? Because negativity or rather realism has a place on social media too. A good startup culture strives for transparency. Sometimes this involves apologizing for glitches in your software and sometimes this involves oversharing about scaling problems. At Happy Melly, we strive to be completely transparent about our sometimes fumbling finances. And Buffer takes it to another inspiring level where their “Default to Transparency” had them share employee salaries and actually seeing job applications triple because of it!

So yes as a startup, you have to strive to be optimistic to survive, and starting with one week is a good start to spread your hope for the future! So what do you have to lose? Will you #gopositive with us?

Have more social media culture tricks to contribute? Tell us them @Geektime and @JKRiggins!

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Jennifer Riggins

About Jennifer Riggins


Jennifer Riggins is a New Jersey Girl in Barcelona, a marketing consultant with a passion for helping start-ups better sell the benefits they have to offer and individuals build their personal brand, from messaging to marketing to website to pitching.

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