Back in the early 2000s, using social media meant sitting at a desktop computer, putting up with dial-up Internet, and going on MySpace, MSN or Orkut. Startups had nothing to do with this world.

So no one could have predicted that, in just over a decade’s time, social media and startups would become inseparable. No startup can be without its Twitter handle, Facebook page, hashtag or YouTube profile. If it is not on social media, it does so at its own peril. Multinational businesses can, very occasionally, get away with it (to this day, Apple does not have an official Facebook or Twitter page) but startups cannot afford to be as shy.

Although, this does mean that social media and startups always get along. One pizza place in Indiana was publicly shamed on social media after it refused service to a same-sex couple. Over the course of one day, the business’ rating on Yelp went from five stars to 1.4 and on Twitter, the company’s handle and hashtag were trolled relentlessly. As a result, Memories Pizza finally closed down.

Of course, the reason for people’s aggravation was the restaurant owners’ prejudice. However, their ability to voice said aggravation was given to them by social media.

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The power of social media

This does not mean that social media is bad for startups. Rather, it means that, because of social media, startups need to be more aware than ever that their bad actions cannot escape bad reviews.

Bad reviews project a bad image for the business. This is obvious. Yet, sometimes a business becomes defined by a social media meme which means that, for better or worse, it has no control over its own image. To be in control, startups need to make sure that they take care of their social media presence. After all, 80 per cent of consumers agree that they are more inclined to buy a product if the brand has a good social media presence.

While big businesses may ignore the extra publicity social media can offer, startups should set themselves apart by updating their pages regularly and responding to queries from potential customers for the kind of personal touch that multinationals don’t have. Being involved in social media gives startups the opportunity to shape their relationship with it and their competitors as they see fit.

And isn’t that what we all want?

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The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at elaine[at]e27[dot]co

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