Recap: Social Media Strategy for Startups

On Thursday, March 16th, the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship held its last workshop of the season: Social Media strategy for Startups. As usual, it was a full house when Maher Ayari, President of the Student Executive Team explained the rationale for including social media in our entrepreneurship events:

“Many people feel that marketing is a chicken and egg problem: you need marketing to reach potential customers, but you need customers in order to pay for marketing efforts. Using social media is one good way to maximize the return on investment of marketing spending by reaching many people at low costs.”

The workshop was lead by two guest speakers: Véronique Beaulieu-Fowler, a Community Manager at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill; and Simon Lejeune, a McGill graduate working as growth manager at Hopper, a successful Montreal startup.

First up was Véronique, who focused her presentation around best practices for a corporate media page to successfully establish a presence online.

Social media in context

Social media is less expensive than traditional marketing channels and allow you to reach a large audience. But more importantly, it allows you to target specific segments of the population based on marketing needs and to track the performance of campaigns, allowing you to use the feedback in future marketing efforts.

It also changes the way people read information and interact with each other: social media platforms tend to be fast paced and global, but also very local: there are real “bubble” effects that will influence the right strategy to get your message across.

During her presentation, Véronique emphasized that social media strategy should be managed rigorously. Each startup should assess on which platform it wants to be present and why, set goals, and a strategy to reach those: “You don’t want to be on social media just to say that you are”. A few methods Véronique mentioned include: having a theme and a timeline for campaigns, as well as scheduling posts to ensure maximal reach with a hands-off approach.

Véronique focused her presentation on best practices for a corporate media page to successfully establish a presence online

7 steps to engage your customers online

Finally, we compiled key takeaways of Véronique’s presentation into 7 steps:

1 – “Understand your audience”: you should know who you are talking to and who you want to reach, to figure out what your audience is interested in.

2 – “Build your company’s persona”: your company’s persona should be steady across all platforms – it’s who you are as a company. However, the tone will change depending on the media you publish on.

3 – “Add value to people’s lives”: your content should be interesting and valuable to people – don’t just try to sell them on your product/service. 

4 – “Be active and reactive: in order to stay visible and engage people, you need to post regularly, and to be reactive to the feedback given in the form of comments, likes, etc.

5 – “Good content is key”: there’s no “going viral” without good content. Adapt your message and way to deliver it to each medium, and include interactive media, as well as a call to action enticing people to follow up with your organization.

6 “Try new things and have fun”: social media trends and functionalities change all the time, which gives you the opportunity to constantly try new things when creating content.

7 “Check analytics, adapt”: a big advantage of social media is that you can track the success of your campaigns. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to leverage the analytics provided by the platforms to do better in the future.


The second part of the workshop was animated by Simon Lejeune, who specifically talked about paid advertising and gave the audience four tips on what to know before starting Facebook ads.

As an introduction, Simon reminded the attendants that the growth that one might want to achieve to social media will only be the “acceleration of early traction of a great product”: you’ll need a good product to get good results. He chose to present Facebook Ads as an effective way for a startup to reach its first clients.

One way Facebook ads could be used is to attract initial customers because they allow startups to get early feedback on their product and to gather data on what their user acquisition costs may be – in other words, how much it will cost you in ads to get someone to buy from you.

Simon shared the 4 things you need to know before getting started with Facebook ads

4 things you need to know before starting Facebook ads:

1 – “Target niche categories of users”: when going into social media advertising, you want to make sure that your ads will be displayed to the right kind of users, the ones that are most likely to try out your product and that constitute your target audience. To do so, you’ll need to leverage the high degree of specificity that Facebook allows you to achieve in targeting your ad.

2 – “Leverage Facebook analytic tools to improve ad efficiency”: A very useful tool that Facebook freely provides to businesses using its advertising services is Facebook Pixel, a tool that allows you to track the characteristics of users interested in your product and to display your ads to similar people that you haven’t reached yet.

3 – “Short mobile video ads”: The content of your ad should be impactful and get the audience interested in trying your product or service. Your ad should stand out to the eye of the user (video is a good example of engaging format), and convey a message about both the company and the product inviting the customer to learn more.

4 – “Calculate the ROI: Finally, it is important to always try and assess the efficiency of your ads to adapt accordingly. Simon acknowledged that this is a difficult thing to do, but also that social media provides more sophisticated tools than traditional TV or poster advertising to do so. Even if the results are really rough estimates (especially at the beginning), they are benchmarks of your marketing performance. If your return on investment for advertising is high, you should increase your spending to reap more benefits from it, and keep an eye on it to pinpoint at which point ROI starts to decrease and advertising to be less effective.

Next Thursday (March 30th), the winners of the 2017 McGill Dobson Cup will be announced!

On the same day, the applications for the McGill X-1 Accelerator – the McGill Dobson Centre’s intensive summer accelerator program for startups, will be open.
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Charlotte Gauthron

Charlotte Gauthron

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Sciences Po Paris, Charlotte decided to join the Desautels Faculty of Management, where she’s now pursuing a BCom, majoring in Information Systems. Now a staff writer for The Dobson Chronicles, she loves learning about new ideas. She hopes to one day be able to find her dream job - one that will allow her to reconcile her deep interest for social enterprise with her love of food.