Bootstrapping · Brand Development

Bootstrapping a social media presence

Ben Cornwell Program Manager and Software Development Specialist

February 6th, 2018

I have been prototyping and refining an online business concept over the past few months. The service is now stable/mature enough for a initial launch, so I have begun to think about strategies for building a social presence.

I have plans to advertise through social channels but this strategy would clearly benefit from having some form of established social following. A complicating factor is that my business is largely 'non-visual'; it's a B2C payment/financial service.

Can anyone offer some suggestions on how to build brand awareness via social and begin attracting likes/follows etc?

For the moment I've set up pages/accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but plan to test audiences across all three platforms to work out where to focus my time and effort. I'm starting with (literally) zero engagement/followers so any advice on how to make a strong start would be greatly appreciated!

Alan Kittle

February 6th, 2018

Hello Ben. There are at least three ways to kick start a social presence I would consider. Firstly you can hire people off sites like to research users in the audience profiles you're interested in, and follow them for you. Then, if those users are interested in your bio and other information, some will follow you back. Secondly, you can work with micro influencers who have established audiences in the same space you want to be in, partner to have them talk about and promote your new startup and hope their followers are interested. Thirdly, you could invest some budget in advertising on social channels using very targeted messaging so you feel good that the people who click your ads do want to know more. The other way is to do this yourself with word of mouth approach, start small and find a "hook" that will make people want to share what your company is doing. Make it something they're interested in personally and they'll feel compelled to share your vision. That final one, of course, takes time. But if you have a strong point of view you can start to make your presence felt. Good luck

Rob Fregosi Looking for Co-founder and Developer

February 6th, 2018

start watching and studying Gary Vaynerchuck on youtube

Jemar Souza An aspiring entrepreneur and change agent trying to make a few things happen at a time

February 6th, 2018

Hey Ben,

My suggestions are:

1) Look for stock images that are relevant to your business. Two good resources are:

  • Pexels:
  • Unsplash:

2) Brainstorm some copy yourself or hire a freelance copywriter to spend an hour or two on some ideas. You want a good mix of "declarative" and "inquisitive" posts. (e.g.

  • Declarative: Imagine what you can do with financial freedom.
  • Inquisitive: What would you do today if you found some extra time and money?)

3) Mix and match the different copy with different images. Also experiment with some copy having no images.

4) Plan out your posts and schedule them with tools like Hootsuite.


5) Consider putting some paid money behind some of the posts to get more reach. Know your budget and allocate accordingly. You can get some decent results with $50 or less a month, split the budget across the platforms.

6) Consider putting some paid money behind acquiring REAL followers, split the budget across the platforms.

7) If you can, try spending 15 - 30 minutes a day engaging with users (e.g. search key words on Twitter and respond to users; search hashtags on Instagram to like, follow, and/or comment, etc)

Hope that helps!

Tom Creed Chief Operating Officer, Shari Creed Strategic Imaging, LLC

February 6th, 2018


Do this yourself, you can’t afford to by into SM. Social in my opinion only works with integrity, which can only be driven by the user.

1. Pick the platform you like to use. If you aren’t using any SM, it’s time to start.

2. Post regular, as honest and transparent as you can stand. This letter to us is well written start there.

3. What about posting your journey into a startup and being an entrepeneur while you launch.

Taylor Thurlow Passionate about data and design- looking to build a founding team

February 6th, 2018

Is the focus building brand awareness or getting customers? Either way, I would skip stock photos, etc. and focus on providing value and engaging users. A great way to do this is going LIVE explaining concepts that your ideal customer may be trying to understand, doing a Q&A, etc.

Wally Barr Business Owner at Undrnu Management

February 7th, 2018

The key is in the message. The platforms are not a concern. Crafting the message is the only essential part of the process. It requires 3 internal documents to be created. This will allow you to have social media posts created and ready for the next year. These posts are all created in less than 4 hours. The creation of the 3 vital documents usually takes 5 days. Since I am a growth hacker I can do it in less time to get you started. What these documents allow you to do is create your own internal digital marketing agency that you have complete control over in this 5 day period. When people ask or try to sell a certain platform over any other it raises a red flag with me. A digital marketing strategy should be platform independent. The reason being is that the majority of your prospects may be on a specific platform. Yes you want to focus on that one but there are plenty of prospects on others. My program allows you to target all platforms.

Hit me up if you want to learn more.

Ben Cornwell Program Manager and Software Development Specialist

February 8th, 2018

Sincere thanks to all who have offered advice! It seems like I'm unable to reply to individual responses, so I apologies in advance for the reply-all...

@Alan Kittle: I used Fiverr for some of the initial design work and it was really successful. It hadn't even crossed my mind that I could hire some help with social research but that's a fantastic tip.

I have a plan that involves advertising through social channels. I had only really considered social advertising with the objective of direct conversions but your suggestion of running some more like an 'awareness' campaign and observing who responds sounds like it'll be my next step!

@Jemar Souza: Thanks very much for those stock photography links - so much great free content! I've used some assets from istock on previous projects; although their quality is good, the cost also adds up.

I totally agree that engagement/interaction with other users on each respective channel is important. I'm just unsure how to do that as a brand and still keep it authentic.

@Tom Creed: I totally agree about keeping the message authentic. I hadn't considered posting about the journey of starting/building but I'll see if I can find an angle.

@Taylor Thurlow: Thanks for calling out the distinction between awareness vs conversions. As noted above, I'd not given it too much thought until now. I'm thinking I need to focus on awareness for the moment: see who the concept resonates with, and then use the insights to refine my service and the message.

@Rob Fregosi: Thanks for the Gary Vee recommendation. I have tried getting into his podcasts a few times - lots of good insights & interesting guests. For me personally, his brashness is just too much but I'll give it another go.

I've been listening to the Startup Diary podcast for a few months now, and it's been great for my overall understanding of running a startup business. (The Startup Diary hosts Adam & Harry also recommend Gary Vee, btw!)

@Elian Dupre: I'm building a B2C but appreciate the advice.

@Wally Barr: Point noted about the choice the platform. I've created accounts on three (FB, Twitter & Instagram) and but will probably stick to FB & Instagram until I've really honed in on who I'm targeting.

Elian Dupre student, founder of various small businesses

February 6th, 2018

Hey Ben. There's a lot of really good answers on growing your B2B social media presence here. I'd like to chip in what I have to offer.

I'm a big believer in the "give before you take" idea. This is where you're giving people value far before asking. If you had to choose between a store that's free versus a store that costs you money, which one would you go to?

This is how you build an established social media presence.

Think about Foundr. Most of their content on Instagram includes quotes and video clips to help aspiring entrepreneurs. Alongside that, they promote their free eBooks, webinars, and conferences constantly.

Through this, they've gained a total of 1.2 million followers to date.

Now you might think to yourself, "My business is a non-visual payment/financial service! What can I do?"

Start gearing your posts towards businesses. Talk about ways to improve a business' finances. The benefits of having over X number of payment methods. Give statistics, provide insights. Make it pretty and converting.

By doing this, you're giving people a reason to follow your page. Your prospective clients won't be following just another page, they'll be following a page which provides them value for free!

Once you've got a growing list of followers, then you can start advertising. Make it subtle. For every post you make about your product, post 5 quotes, insights, you name it.

That's how you grow a social media presence.

Hope I helped!