Startup College Tourist Gives Tips on Social Branding

Alison Tatham invented College Tourist to connect college students in their own college towns through a Postcard Facebook App. Through the app that she and her business partner Lori Stratford now run, college students can upload photos and tell others the best places to eat, hang out and shop in their college towns, share their dream destinations and weekend hotspots, providing a community of local knowledge for current and prospective college students.

Here, Alison and Lori give a few of their hard-earned tips about how to make the most of a social biz:

1) Brand Differentiation – Write a list of unique ways your business is different from your competitors. Use these points to develop your social media strategy and connect your brand with your audience.

Alison and Lori

Alison and Lori

Once you have decided on a fabulous eye-catching logo, blanket social media. The wide variety of social platforms means you can connect with Pinners, Tweeters, FB’ers and bloggers alike. By conveying your central ideals as a business through social media, you are able to connect on a deeper level with your audience than just by promoting your product or concept through traditional media channels.

2) Targeted Content – While you are building your website, begin building a social media following through blog posts, Facebook links and Tweets that reflect your audience’s interests and bring with them a strong flavor of your company.

College Tourist decided early on to focus social media on three main areas of interest to the target demographic. By finding material and re-blogging posts from sources we liked, College Tourist built a following that enjoyed varied content. It’s about the conversation rather than promotion of the web site.

3) Feedback – It is important to obtain feedback directly from your target audience. The College Tourist team pounded the pavement, visiting places where large numbers of college students gathered. The founders talked but then listened twice as hard.

The response from the audience was invaluable. It helped refine the message we were sending so as to be clear on what was being provided and why they should participate. Refining your message is important. It is crucial that you don’t confuse your target demographic.

4) Creative Collaborations – Marketing yourself and attracting sponsors and advertisers presents a dilemma when you have a very small following. Rather than focus on your low volume of web traffic, keep your attention on how fantastic your product or concept is. Think of ways to create a joint project with a larger company that complements your own.

College Tourist found several companies that recognized our great concept and understood that they were just beginning. Try directly contacting companies that complement your own product or concept. Even if your target is large and successful compared to your tiny start-up self, many companies are constantly looking to create joint ventures with interesting and new companies. You may be surprised at the warm reception you will receive from fellow CEOs who would love to run a mutual project. Meeting people in related industries affords you the chance to establish guest blog positions with other bloggers. This is an opportunity for both parties to increase their media footprint.