What Successful Startups Are Doing: 2017 Social Media Edition

“What Successful Startups Are Doing” is a new blog series that I’m writing, highlighting the innovative ways successful startups are killing it with various aspects of digital marketing.

In this first blog, we’ll tackle one of the most popular online marketing platforms — social media.

I will explore in depth the strategies of 5 growth-stage companies that are outperforming their peers in social media, and share their tried-and-true social tactics that you can apply to your own business.

So let’s dive in. Shall we?

What Successful Startups Are Doing: 2017 Social Media Edition

1. Soothe


This California-based startup delivers massages to homes and workplaces in over 50 cities across US, UK and Canada. Their brand hashtag? #SootheYourself. Very catchy.

Social Media Stats:

Twitter: 4,325 followers

Facebook: 19,002 likes

Instagram: 26.2k followers

How is Soothe Rocking Social Media?

Soothe’s focus on delivering daily doses of positivity, relaxation, motivation, and work-life balance tips are consistent with the intended goal of the brand — to make people feel physically and mentally at ease.

Feel good photos and quotes are their weapon of choice.

Soothe Facebook Post

If you were a lucky Soothe follower, you’d often be graced with zen photos that make you want to book a massage ASAP (I almost did!).

Soothe Instagram post

On the other hand, Soothe does occasionally step outside their literal comfort zone, like when they offered free massages to travel ban protesters at Los Angeles International Airport, and proudly bragged about it all over social media.

Soothe Facebook Post Massage at LAX

Some might argue that it’s risky for brands to make strong political statements like this, considering the current divisive political climate in the US. But at the end of the day, Soothe knows exactly who their intended audience is (political belief is certainly part of the audience profile) and the engagement on their Facebook post proved that their gutsy action was worthwhile.

Key Social Media Takeaways:

1. When in doubt, share inspirational messages and beautiful photographs. A good chunk of folks simply can’t resist them!

2. You don’t have to play it safe all the time. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?


2. EatStreet


You might think that food delivery startups have an easier time building their social media presence. And you would be right. Nothing melts our hearts (and impels us to click the Like button) more than seeing tantalizing pictures of pepperoni pizza, juicy burgers, and Oreo-stuffed cookies. But this shouldn’t undermine the good job the social team at EatStreet has done.

Social Media Stats:

Twitter: 9,059 followers

Facebook: 53,809 likes

Instagram: 1,397 followers

How is EatStreet Rocking Social Media?

Really, this brand does more than sharing mouth watering images of food. Because that would be too cheesy (pun totally intended).

In fact, their social media accounts are infused with an appropriate amount of good vibes and light humour, much like @totinos, @arbys and @charmin.

Get ready to chuckle:

EatStreet Twitter posts
EatStreet Twitter poss

EatStreet closely follows the latest memes and trending hashtags, and putting their own spin on them in a way that their fans can relate. Frankly, it’s refreshing to see a brand letting loose and just having some fun.

EatStreet tweet with pizza

Key Social Media Takeaways:

1. Humor is a universal language. If it meshes well with your brand image, don’t hesitate to use it (sparingly if you must).

2. When it comes to trending hashtags, join the conversation if you have something relevant to share. But don’t force it, people can pick up on disingenuity.


3. Teespring


At first glance, Teespring appears to be a run-of-the-mill eCommerce site. But don’t be fooled by the massive amount of cool swag on their homepage, this brand is more than meets the eye. Teespring allows creative people to submit their own merchandise designs, and takes care of product production, shipping logistics and customer service for them. Isn’t that a dream come true for wannabe designers (such as yours truly)?

Designing on the platform was surprisingly easy. Behold my first creation after 30 minutes of fumbling around:

FloraPang I Have Not Slept In 3 Days Hoodie Front  FloraPang I Have Not Slept In 3 Days Hoodie Back

And yes, I’m strangely proud of it.

Now let’s talk about social media.

Social Media Stats:.

Twitter: 57.7k followers

Facebook: 797,177 likes

Pinterest: 52.4k followers

How is Teespring Rocking Social Media?

Teespring is in a unique position because they have access to massive amount of user-generated content (i.e. cool T-shirt designs), and they definitely make that the focal point of their Facebook Page.

Teespring Facebook Post 1
Teespring Facebook Post 2
Teespring Facebook Post 3

Notice that Teespring doesn’t use professional models for their photos. Heck, they don’t even use filters on their photos. That’s part of their ingenuity shining through — their Facebook Page looks more like a typical person’s Facebook feeds than a traditional business Page. Not only do their posts blend seamlessly with regular Facebook posts from friends (seen too many friends’ selfies, anyone?), but their unpretentiousness also very much appeals to their customer base.

Teespring Facebook Post 4

Moving on to Twitter.

Teespring doesn’t kid around when it comes to social engagement. If you tweet positively about your recent Teespring purchase, chances are, @teespring will retweet you. They even set up a separate Twitter account to handle customer service inquiries, which is becoming quite common for popular e-tailers but it is still nice to see that Teespring takes their customer support seriously.

Teespring keeps their Pinterest rather uncomplicated — as another platform to showcase their products. People seem to love this format (52.4k followers is nothing to sneeze at) so more power to them!

Key Social Media Takeaways:

1. Be authentic. While we love those perfectly designed glossy brand images, sometimes it pays to be natural and real, especially if you’re selling a product that holds mass appeal.

2. Engagement doesn’t get old. People love it when you’re responsive to them. Treat social media like a party that you’re hosting and interact with everyone. If someone waves hello at you at an actual party, wouldn’t you at least smile and wave back? Why should socializing be different online? Using that mindset, strive to respond to every social inquiry in some way (whether to thank a new follower via DM, or just liking a reply) and you’ll go far in social media.


4. Timehop


Timehop is one of those rare gems of startups that just get it.

First of all, I love what they do. To quote their official description, Timehop lets you “see your photos and updates from this exact day in history.”

I was so surprised to see this out-of-character tweet of mine (from 4 years ago, to be exact) through Timehop that for a brief moment, I thought my Twitter account had been compromised.

Timehop FloraPang

Social Media Stats:

Twitter: 368k followers

Facebook: 544,962 likes

How is Timehop Rocking Social Media?

With original illustrations!

Timehop Facebook Post 1
Timehop Facebook Post 2

Before you ask, yes, that cute teal dinosaur (I assume?) is in every illustration because it’s part of their branding.

Timehop Facebook Post 3

Even though Timehop doesn’t have a Pinterest, I’m sure someone out there is collecting these illustrations, because they are simply awesome.

Timehop Facebook Post 4

These illustrations aren’t created just for social media (they appear in the Timehop app as well), but I’d still hand them an A+ for efforts!

The only minor change I would propose is to add a tiny Timehop logo to every illustration so that someone randomly stumbling upon these images on a remote corner of the Internet could refer back to Timehop as the source.

On Twitter, Timehop is not afraid to get silly.

Timehop funny Father's Day tweet

Remember the adorable dinosaur? He actually has his own Twitter account, @Abe (I thought this dinosaur looked more like a “Charlie”, but that’s beside the point) and its main purpose is to notify users of technical issues with the app. And he does it with so much cuteness and sass.

Able tweet

Abe perpetually amazes me with how many different ways he can say “our app is currently down”, but I guess I’ll keep on following to find out.

Key Social Media Takeaways:

1. You put into social media what you want to get out of it. Scheduling a bunch of tweets and hoping for the best is no longer enough to attract a quality following.

2. Injecting a healthy dose of humor into your social customer support isn’t going to scare your customers away. Whenever issues arise, be transparent and upfront about it, and more importantly, assure people that you’re on top of it.


5. Patreon


As someone who spends a decent amount of time consuming digital content from indie content creators, it makes me uneasy to call Patreon a “startup” as I am fairly certain that this company is on its way to being acquired in the near future (hopefully not before I hit the “Publish” button on this blog).

For those who are less familiar with Patreon, think of it as a monthly-subscription version of Kickstarter. Instead of making a one-time donation to help specific projects, fans (or more commonly referred to as “patreons” within Patreon) can support content creators by making small monthly donations.

By doling out rewards according to patreons’ contribution levels, YouTubers, podcasters, photographers and writers alike can achieve financial stability. Pretty sweet, huh?

This company must be doing something right, because almost anybody who is somebody in the digital art world is using it. But we’re not here to talk about their business savvy, we’re here to admire their social media efforts and learn a lesson or two.

Social Media Stats:

Twitter: 51.3k followers

Facebook: 109,647 likes

Instagram: 14.9k followers

How is Patreon Rocking Social Media?

They put the focus on their biggest differentiating factor: their talent pool. Everything is about helping creators with their creative endeavors and showcasing their work.

Patreon tweets about one of their creators

Patreon hardly ever mentions itself on social media, and this lack of blatant self-promotion clearly worked to their advantage, as they’ve created something else in the process: a close-knitted community of creators. It’s a beautiful thing to observe.

Patreon's Instagram post

Patreon realizes that their own business success largely hinges on the success of their creators. Although it’s the patreons who ultimately open their wallets to keep the business afloat, the creators are the ones choosing to bring their fanbase onto Patreon in the first place. If Patreon is able to attract, inspire and retain the best content creators, the patreons will follow.

Therefore their entire social media mission revolves around motivating aspiring content creators to pursue what they love, attracting successful content creators to join the platform, and providing their creators with the tools and resources they need to take their success to the next level.

Key Social Media Takeaways:

1. Know who your primary audience is (it’s not always as clear cut as it might seem), then cater to their needs and help them become successful.

2. Self-promotion isn’t always the top priority on social media. Of course, this depends on your business model, but this likely holds true for businesses that don’t depend on social media for the bulk of their traffic.

Final Words

What other brands are doing cool stuff on social media? Please share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comments section below.

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Flora Pang

Flora Pang is a digital marketing strategist specialized in turning startups into success stories. You can also find Flora on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

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