This is a glimpse into Entrepreneurship 100, our series focused on bringing leading entrepreneurs to the University of Toronto. The event was focused on social media and included the following panelists:

  • Ashlee Froese – specializing in Fashion Law, Ashlee uses blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as advertising tools to develop her business.
  • Erin Bury – deep in the startup world, Erin helps companies reach their customers.
  • Michael Seaton – an expert in digital marketing, Michael does everything from storytelling to amplifying the messages of big corporations and entrepreneurs alike.

What is the role of social media for an entrepreneur?

For big corporations and entrepreneurs alike, social media is a tool that can be tailored to your business needs.

Entrepreneurs might consider social media for:

  • The ease of being really close to their customers. “As an entrepreneur you usually are really close to your customers inherently because there are so few of them when you start out, but it’s a great and very inexpensive way to have conversations back and forth with your customers.” – Erin

  • Its accessibility and low barrier to entry in terms of cost.

  • The opportunity of being their own Ambassadors. Especially for businesses that promote their services by tapping into online communities.

Social media also exposes you to like minded people and business that as an entrepreneur – you can learn from. “You can find businesses that are like yours or are on a growth pattern like yours and see what they’re doing, consume their information, see how they’re using it.” – Michael

What are some individual platforms that you can use and why?

Getting to know your customers is key when crafting your message online and knowing where to promote it. But this can be challenging for a business with limited resources. In that case, the best place to start is to figure out your own social media consumption, as a consumer.

“To me LinkedIn is the best network for Business to Business, but it’s also not something that you typically visit on a daily basis. If you are in the B to B space, you probably want to consider having a presence on LinkedIn but also looking to a more daily network like Twitter” – Ashlee

If you happen to be a spokesperson for your company, which is the case for most entrepreneurs, you can determine which social channels you treat as personal versus professional. If you choose to not distinguish between the two, you should still consider how you approach followers on each.

Lastly, don’t forget that social media has a lot to offer, so there is really no reason to get settled in one specific medium. “If you’ve invested a lot of time and effort and money into one platform, you are just kind of leasing it, people are fickle.” – Michael. A platform you are relying on heavily can one day become irrelevant (anyone remember Myspace?). So diversifying is not only a great way to widen your scope, but also a reliable insurance policy.

Want to learn more?

Entrepreneurship 100 is a free event series that brings entrepreneurs to the University of Toronto to share their experiences and connect with students. Since Fall 2016 we’ve held 12 sessions covering ideas to funding, and everything in-between.

Sign-up now for our next session on November 1st.