Social Media · Social Media Marketing

Social media expectations for stealth mode startup?

Greg Lipinski Patent Examiner at USPTO

August 25th, 2016

If a product is in closed beta mode, should we still create social media accounts? We're not actively looking to grow our number of users yet and spend nothing on advertising.  If we don't have accounts, we're worried investors will think we're not social media savvy. If we do have accounts and there's little to no activity on them, we're worried investors will think something is off. We could also create Facebook and Twitter accounts for our existing users but close the group's content to the public; I believe outsiders would still be able to tell that we exist and see how many members we have.

What's the best thing to do?

Kyra Reed Digital Marketing Consultant, Cannabis Marketing, Social Media Training and Educator

August 25th, 2016

Hi Greg,

You are right about the investors and it is possible to build a social media presence without having a product to offer yet.  That time can be used to tease, excite and inform your audience.  Populating your channels with great content prior to your release also gives you wind in your sails for your launch and gives the public something they can sink their teeth into when they go looking for more info on you.  It isn't hard to develop a strategy that takes all of these considerations into account.  And don't fret over how many members others see that you have or not.  Great content that communicates clearly to your audience will help build your following.  Hope this helps!

Kerry Stratford President & Chief Creative Officer – Caliber Group, a Brand Marketing, Public Relations & Interactive Firm

August 25th, 2016

We usually suggest capturing the social channel accounts you want, and holding them until you are ready to engage with an audience. These assets are an important part of your brand and you want to keep them out of the hands of your competitors.

Uri Ravin CEO & Co-Founder at Croosing

August 25th, 2016

Hi Greg. I look at it as a question of resources. Do you have the resources to maintain a quality social channels? than yes, just do it. All your resources are focused on tech and biz development? than postpone the social activities until you can give it the focus it needs. "Half way" is no way... 

Christi Foist Multi-Channel Communications Strategist

August 25th, 2016

Years ago, I heard someone say that you should use tools like social media insofar as they support your overarching business goals. Everything I've seen since then has borne out the wisdom of that.

Yes, if possible, get the usernames you'll want now. That being said, services like Facebook and Google+ may only grant you a certain type of custom username after you've verified your business and/or website. Sometimes you also need a minimum follower count to qualify for such usernames.

As others have said, keep the accounts private if you're not ready to use them right away.

When you do feel ready to start public accounts, look through several peer companies' social media channels to see what they're using and how often. See what kind of posts do well for them. Some organizations post multiple tweets an hour, while others post a smaller number of articles, which they then promote multiple times and multiple ways throughout the day. On Facebook, I tend to see fewer posts, but it's extremely important that you share well-optimized content. Posts without photos and other types of information get very few impressions -- almost certainly due to the Facebook algorithm.

At the same time, keep in mind that these channels all support two-way conversations -- but nurturing that relationship takes time and attention. Twitter has a good guide for businesses that includes several success stories, showing the different ways companies use the tool.

Lastly, if you end up deciding a social media presence doesn't offer much return on the time investment, you can always make a brief statement on your About page about the philosophical or strategic reasons for limiting communication channels. If you're doing so because of other things you're for, and saying no to social media so you can say yes to something more important to you, such as better service in other areas, that may be worth noting.

Judy Mod CEO + Chemical Engineer = Building Businesses to Fix Complex Problems through the #AccelerationOfInnovation + #AdoptionOfInnovation.

August 25th, 2016

Hi Greg.  For me, it's less about social media, and more about the ways in which you can build your independent authority in this field, by focusing on the problems that executives need to fix - that you, your partner, and ultimately your company, are and will be in a unique position to fix.  There are two sides to establishing, building and expanding your authority.  1st - the problem.  2nd - the network.  All of this can be done in advance of the product launch.    

Nikhil Shah

August 25th, 2016

Hi Greg, 

If you go down the social media route:

One option would be to create social media accounts under an alias. i.e. if your product saves people money then create a Money Saving channel on Twitter etc. to establish yourself as an expert and create a base of people you can market to in the future. 

You can then change the name of the account to your company name at a later date - I know Twitter / Facbook both allow this subject to conditions (>5000 members or something like that.) 

Or you could keep the names the same but only start posting links to your product from the existing accounts when you are ready to go public.

May I please ask how you got your Beta users whist remaining in stealth mode?

The obvious answer seems to be friends and family but this is quite a general as opposed to focused demographic (i.e. people who might be interested in your niche) 

Any help much appreciated. 


Stephen Fitzgerald Design/Direction at Monovich

August 25th, 2016

I would tend towards establishing the accounts and securing the usernames that you want to use. Just because you start a social media account doesn't mean that it will have an immediate audience. If you don't give people cause to discover it then it will most likely remain very low profile or unnoticed. You could also plan a carefully messaged first series of posts that relate to your project / product but are intentionally vague so that your investors don't see an empty account.
What I wouldn't want to see is a squatter or someone else taking the brand name or usernames that you intend to use because you chose to wait.

Nathan Burgess Independent Digital Strategist and Tactician

August 25th, 2016

Everyone above is correct, but without more context it's hard to know what route to take.  Yes, you should grab your usernames if possible (or the feasible alternatives). You should definitely consider resources - it's just as easy (easier in fact) to turn someone off as to activate them.

Can you use the channels pre-launch - sure if your folks have smart things to say in the industry? Is your product the killer thing or is the leadership team sufficiently strong to support being talking heads on the industry notwithstanding availability of the product.

As a side note - it may be worthwhile to remind investors what they want from you - an ROI, not a fan count. Building a non-vested following on social media (assuming your product is unknown to the outside) does not necessarily equal creating ROI for them.  Also - size isn't the key here - if you're making backend security software for community banks it's a smaller universe that isn't coming to social when they're out shopping. If you're making the next Tinder, that's a different story.  

For the investors you can also show them the other metrics - interactions of your Beta community, opens on mailings, app/site usage by the betas, referrals from the betas to their friends, etc. That's far more insightful than "how many people are following my twitter account because we happen to be curating good content, somewhat related to my industry, that no one will care about after we launch" (an industry term ;) ).

Michael Ratnik National Operations Manager at Full House Group

August 28th, 2016

Hi Greg, 

This may not be for you as you are in a different space than I was when I used this tactic;

If you create a Facebook page, add your administrators and do not publish the page it will not be able to seen by anyone but your administrators.  This neither gets your name out there nor builds a social media presence but it does reserve your page.  If you make a post every now and then, even telling the story of how you are growing the business, small wins along the way or whatever is relevant to you, when you finally publish your page and want to get your name out there you have a story.  Users will not go to your page and see a newly created page but your story and hopefully, connect with the product more than they would have.

This of course does not satisfy investors who may be looking at interaction and users so a private group may help.  Get your beta testers on this group and generate discussion/likes or just show that you were able to achieve a private group of X% of your beta users.  Groups are not great in the long run so you will only want to use this to 'tick the box'

Like I said, it may not be for you but I personally think it is better than nothing.