Use Social Media to Attract Venture Capital

When you want to raise money for your company, going online is a given. While in the past many people viewed social media sites as novelties or time-wasters, now, they are necessary for business.

Connecting with investors through LinkedIn

If your website and e-mail addresses are the most important public persona your company needs, then LinkedIn houses the most important individual persona that you need. LinkedIn is an online resume that enables you to connect with other business people.

This service lets you keep track of the people you’ve met and attract the people you want to meet. Looking up someone’s LinkedIn profile before meeting for coffee or asking him to pitch for investment is now commonplace.

When you set up a LinkedIn profile, you make it easy for potential investors and other business associates to do their homework on you, and you can look up their profiles as well.

When you create a LinkedIn profile, make sure that it’s complete enough to give people an idea of your track record, but brief enough to avoid forcing them to wade through your high school hockey awards to get to the meat of your experience — assuming, of course, that you don’t have a hockey-related company.

The best part about a LinkedIn profile is that you control it in real time. If you begin serving on the board of a non-profit organization and you want to add that to your experience, you can do so right away. If you realize that your past work in a different industry is distracting to people in your current industry, you can delete it from your profile.

Using Twitter to find investors

Twitter has become a popular way for businesses to connect with their customer bases. Very basically, Twitter is a real-time information network that lets people post tweets, short messages (no more than 140 characters) that other members can follow. You can tweet text, links, pictures, and video. The people who are following you will see those tweets and any media attached in their twitter feed.

If you are one of those people who think Twitter isn’t important or that you’re just tweeting out into thin air, you’re wrong! Twitter has become one of the primary ways for individuals and businesses to find and connect to each other. You are able to tweet both individually and as a business; you should do both:

  • Tweeting as a company: Sure, your company isn’t a person and doesn’t have opinions, but it does have a culture and a brand. Your company should tweet information, news, and links related to the culture and brand.

    Leverage your online activities by tweeting whenever you post a new entry to your blog, website, or Facebook page. Tweet when you have a press release. Include your web address in tweets to drive more traffic to your site.

    Although anyone in the company can tweet as the company, put one person in charge of the account to make sure that direct Twitter messages (like really short e-mails) are being answered.

  • Tweeting as an individual: You can get your own Twitter username and create your own brand. If you are raising money, then your personal brand should align pretty closely with that of your company. Get your own followers and tweet successful milestones, intriguing thoughts, and informative news to the people who care about your tweets.

When you become active on Twitter, keep these points in mind:

  • Twitter is very public. Assume that everything you write will be sent around the world. Even if you don’t have many followers, your few followers can retweet your messages to their followers who may number in the tens of thousands.

  • Gathering followers on Twitter takes time. People have to individually click a button to say that they are interested in your tweets.

After your company has amassed a large number of Twitter followers (hundreds or even thousands), you can proudly claim to have lots of people interested in your company.

Finding friends and investors on Facebook

Facebook is another social media system that initially appealed primarily to teens and college students but is now very much for businesses, too. With a Facebook page, you can connect your business with the people who use Facebook (there are over 1 billion of them).

Many people now use Facebook for their news and entertainment media. If those people are part of your community, your company needs to have a presence on Facebook, too.

On your Facebook page, post the topics that are important to your brand’s community: Post offers, events, information, and news that your customers care about. If you’re a coffee company, for example, you’d post on anything related to coffee: coffee breaks, mornings, snack foods to have with coffee, health effects of coffee, art using coffee beans, politics of coffee, and so on.

People can “Like” your company’s page, which means that they agree to receive your posts in their inbox. When you have a certain number of likes, you have access to more advanced features (like promotions and a memorable custom Facebook address, like www.facebook.com/yourname).

With Facebook, as with any social media, your goal is to engage your community and influence thoughts and actions. Done well (don’t just post ads selling your product!), you can expand your community and help create a tight-knit feeling around your product or business. Investors love to see that people care about your company and your product.

Although you use Facebook as an informal marketing tool for your business, make sure your posts are professional. Also keep in mind that amassing a following on Facebook takes time and although it is “free,” leveraging it successfully requires significant resources.

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