Starting Your Business From Scratch on Social Media

by Allen Voivod

Old School Social Networking

Old School Social Networking – Rolodex by James Roach on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

New businesses are being started by the thousands, every day. And each and every one of those businesses starts with a social media presence at zero.

Nowhere to go but up, right?

Except sometimes it is SLOOOOOOOOOOOOW going, getting your social ramped up. And…that’s okay. Numbers for the sake of numbers? Sure, there’s something to be said for the credibility that a bigger number gets you. But a smaller, engaged community giving you great word of mouth, and spreading the news about you, is going to be much more valuable in the long run.

And speaking of smaller, engaged communities, here’s the truth. These days, NO ONE starts a social media presence at zero.


Because most of us already have networks. Most of us already have them easily at our fingertips, via LinkedIn and Facebook. Or, if you’re old school, in your Outlook contacts. Or if you’re REALLY old school, in the Rolodex.

Mari Smith and Mchael StelznerI’ve probably assembled this memory from three or four different encounters, but I remember being in Mari Smith‘s living room a couple years ago, listening to Michael Stelzner talk about the founding of Social Media Examiner. They currently have more than 220,000 subscribers, it’s the #1 or #2 social media focused blog in the world, and it also started from zero.

But Michael had a network. He used it to get the word out about his new venture. And not only that, he tapped a smaller set of people to be his “Firestarters” – experts with their own circles of influence, who agreed to guest blog and widely share with their own networks in the early days of Social Media Examiner.

And he’s no different than you or me. He doesn’t have some rare genetic quality, inexplicable magic, or superheroic mutation that made it possible.

That’s important. So let’s say it again, together.

He’s no different than you or me.

The only thing different from where he is and where you are is that he took the actions that made his success happen. And as he said in that living room – nearly two years ago to this day, actually – any of us could do what he did.

So, here’s what to do, if you’re launching your business from scratch:

1. Tap your networks to help you get the word out when you launch, and as you hit big milestones.

2. ID the big influencers in your network, who also have large networks of their own.

3. Make it worth their while for those influencers to become your Firestarters – the ones who will spread the word far and wide, over and over. And don’t hesitate to do the same for them.

Now, a word about ID’ing your influencers. And what I’m about to say, I say with a grain of salt. Klout and Kred are by no means perfect in terms of identifying influencers. BUT…a brief analogy. You might ask Google to give you a list of keywords to consider for an ad campaign. And when Google does, you’d go through that list, and say, “Yeah, that’s a good one” to one, and “No, that’s completely off base” to another, and so on. Use Klout and Kred the same way, to get a first-level list that you can review to find the best fit for your purposes.

Remember, you never really start at zero. If you find yourself falling into that mental trap, remind yourself of what you do have. Then put your bountiful blessings and assets to work.

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