Social Media for Startups: You’re Doing It Wrong.

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Social Media for Startups.  It sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?  After all, 74% of startup founders are under the age of 39, based on a LinkedIn study published on TechCrunch.  (Of course, the way TechCrunch chose to report that same data was to say that 65% of startup founders are 30 and older. Because…TechCrunch.)  We can slice and dice data lots of ways, but the fact is that tech startups are nearly all founded by Gen Y, and primarily by guys of that age group.  Estimates range, but it’s generally stated that 94-98% of all VC funding goes to startups founded by men.  I haven’t found a source that was able to aggregate the ages of these founders, and there are some very notable exceptions, but it’s safe to say that the vast majority of new startups are founded by Gen Y-ers. Gen Y is the generation of digital natives. You bought your first cell phone at age 7, you got your Facebook account around age 12, you text more than you talk on your iPhone, and so on.  So why do you need a monthly column discussing social media for startups? You’ve got it covered, right? Wrong.

I’m here to talk to you about how to transform your business’s social media efforts from a simple communication method into a revenue-generation-machine. There’s a big difference between using social media for, well, socializing, and using it appropriately and effectively for business.  My monthly blog post will discuss ways to utilize social media for marketing, customer service, lead generation and PR, and much more.  Because guess what, startup founders?  Most of you are doing it wrong.

So what makes me an expert?  I identify myself primarily as a sales professional, and have significant experience in that field.  But I’ve also been a highly successful entrepreneur.  In 2002, I founded an ecommerce company specializing in ultra-luxury handbags.  I bootstrapped the whole thing, applied lean principles before Eric Ries even wrote the book, and within 18 months I was doing $2M in sales a year.  Profitably.  By the time I moved on to a new challenge, I had created full time jobs for 3 people, and employed up to 6 more seasonally.  I had brought in well over $15M in revenue over the life of the business.

How’d I do it?  A combination of social media, blogs, forums, Google & Facebook ads, paid search, and good old-fashioned networking–plus, of course, having a product that people wanted to buy.  And, here’s the kicker: experience.  Prior to founding my company, I had worked for 2 VC-backed startups, as well as 3 publicly held companies.  I’d seen my share of doofy business practices, blind flailing, and silly missteps in both types of environments.  I’d watched and learned as one of the startups I worked for bet the farm on an acquisition, only to implode when the acquisition didn’t work out.

You may be saying, “Well, that’s great, but I’m already doing my thing; I’m not going to quit and go work for someone else just to get experience”.  And you shouldn’t. That’s where this blog comes in.  Think of me like an indulgent big sister.  A big sister with a solid business background, actual entrepreneurial experience, who’s here to help you.  I’d like to share with you my observations; I’d like to challenge your assumptions; I’d like to encourage you to use the powerful tools you have at your disposal in new and better ways; and I’d love to see you succeed and fly higher than you’ve ever thought possible.   I plan to discuss a wide range of topics, and invite your active participation (arguments?) here, or wherever you feel like talking back to me.

Hope to hear from you, and I definitely hope you’ll subscribe so you don’t miss out on my next post: Dear Founder, Don’t Be A Kanye. Signed, Everyone.

Cynthia Schames
This monthly Social Media for Startups column is contributed by Cynthia Schames. Cynthia is a senior level sales professional with 15 years of experience in the business world including 8+ years of expertise in Enterprise and SaaS software sales and 5+ years as a successful eCommerce entrepreneur. She is passionate about the cloud and truly believes in the power of social media for more efficient business operations and deeper personal connections. +Cynthia Schames
Cynthia Schames


#500Strong. Founder @abbey_post now VP @sourceeasy revolutionizing apparel production through software.
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Cynthia Schames
Cynthia Schames

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  1. Scott Erb says

    Will this be addressing companies who don’t operate in the Retail space as well, such as institutional services etc?

  2. says

    Linkedin is very powerful tool for startups. But in order to position ourselves as experts on Linkedin, we need to have great content (blog). Otherwise, with only Linkedin, it may not able to convince others that we are experts.

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