Social startups: Real talk from the founders of inkbox, Sampler and Repable

Social media is an essential part of growth, awareness and brand-building for startups, though it can hardly be described as a science. Toronto was host to an independent Social Media Week event in June put on by Pinch Social, and three Toronto startup founders—Sampler’s Marie Chevrier, Repable’s Heather Anne Carson and inkbox’s Tyler Handley—shared lessons learned while building their businesses on social.

Reaching key stakeholders:
Heather Anne Carson of Repable reaches out to individuals at large brands via Twitter DM—it’s “the most effective way to reach them … because they get the push notification,” she said. She had an 80% response rate with this method.

Getting personal:
Tyler Handley of inkbox is extremely close with his social followings and regularly engages one-to-one with customers by DMing them on Instagram or talking to users on Snapchat. Almost all of their social content is user-generated—”a benefit of having a visual product,” Handley says.

Showing leadership:
Sampler founder Marie Chevrier points out that her own social accounts are important tools for recruitment. “I’m a bragger. It’s important. It’s hard to find talent quickly if you haven’t been developing leadership,” she says. Repable’s Carson agrees. “Your brand as a founder or early-stage employee is what’s going to make the company look good in the early days.”

Why being small can be mighty:
Both Handley and Chevrier pointed out that being small gives them legitimacy with their customers. “When you’re a larger team people seem to think less of you, but when you’re smaller, it’s the opposite. They can connect,” Handley says. Chevrier points to a story where they crashed, and posted a note explaining that they’re a small team, but they’re working on it. Their customers understood. “It was like, heart, heart heart—and we felt better,” she says.