Using social media for your business

In the third episode of the Startup Series, Pip Murray, founder of all natural nut butter brand Pip & Nut, talks about how to engage your audience using social media.

Startups can gain a real edge over bigger competitors when it comes to telling stories on social media.

When Pip Murray started Pip & Nut four years ago, she put social media at the heart of the brand. The idea behind her business sprang from her passion for running. Her favourite post-run treat was peanut butter on toast, but she found leading brands were packed with cane sugar and palm oil, and brands marketed as healthier options were often dull and unexciting. Pip decided there was a gap in the market for a new range that focused on natural ingredients but catered for younger tastes.

Pip & Nut started life at Pip's kitchen table, now the brand is stocked in 2,300 stores, including Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Lakeland.

“Right from day one, when coming up with Pip & Nut and developing the brand identity, social media was always in the back of my mind,” explains Pip. “It was always within our briefs - how do we create a product and a brand that is going to appeal to a certain demographic? For us, this was 19-35-year-olds.”

Pip’s target demographic is active on social media platforms. Pip & Nut uses Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to talk directly to customers and share interesting and engaging content.

Pip believes social media storytelling is one area where startups can really excel. Smaller brands often have interesting stories of how and why they came into being, which can be more appealing to customers.

“If you are a startup and you’ve got a story to tell, you can communicate your growth story, your plans and all the values behind your brand through Instagram and your social feeds,” Pip explains. “I think it’s a really great advantage that you’ve got over bigger brands who find it very difficult to tell a story through it or have that authentic voice.”

Read on below for Pip’s advice on how to bring your brand to life with social media:

1. Think social when coming up with your branding

Social media marketing is a key part of the Pip & Nut brand.

At the outset, the branding needed to emphasise the goodness of nuts and natural ingredients. It also needed to be fun, playful and energetic to appeal to the target demographic.

“Social media was really key,” says Pip. “We had to make sure that the products themselves were something that someone would be wanting to share.”

2. Use social media to grow your own audience

Pip & Nut uses Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share news and content with the brand’s followers. One of the benefits of social media marketing, is that you can build a sizeable audience in a relatively short space of time.

Pip says: “We are really fortunate that we’ve got a very engaged following on our social media. Across the three platforms, we’ve got just under 100,000 followers and that’s within the space of two years.”

3. Use great content to tell your brand's story

Pip says smaller brands have the advantage when it comes to engaging their customers - being closer to their followers makes it easier to create engaging content.

Pip & Nut’s social feeds include product launch news, recipes, a ‘crunchy vs smooth’ poll and invitations for customers to share their own recipes and creations on the company’s social media channels.

“You’ve got so much content you can put out there that people are really hungry to consume,” says Pip. “I think it’s one of the bigger strengths of a start up challenger brand.”

4. Reap the power of recommendations

Having an engaged audience means Pip & Nut can also reap the rewards from their followers recommending their brand to friends. These word of mouth recommendations are not only powerful - they’re also free.

Pip says: “What’s brilliant about that is that not only are they talking about your product all the time, those people who are interacting with you are also recommending it to other people. I love that, because whilst we will always celebrate our products and shout about the benefits of them on our own platform, it’s great when other people are doing it for you. It’s way more authentic.”

5. Reach out to key influencers and bloggers within your industry sector

As well as sharing content which will interest and engage their customers, Pip & Nut also seek out key bloggers and influencers with a shared interest in healthy lifestyles. Reaching out to these influencers can help your brand reach a wider audience.

“We will often send new products that we are launching or fun boxes to online influencers to show them our products and, if they want, hopefully, share it with their followers. All of this is quite organic and essentially free,” says Pip.

“You are just trying to link with key thought leaders within that community online so you can leverage it on your social feed and gain more exposure for your brand.”

Have a UK startup that earns up to £50,000? Join Xero for Startups* and get a years' free membership to Enterprise Nation's small business community. *The Startup Series is published in association with Enterprise Nation.

Xero is beautiful online accounting software for your startup

Join Xero for Startups today.

Find out more