Social media marketing on a shoestring

Online campaigns can attract and engage established and potential customers without busting your budget. Try these approaches.

High-priced ads remind us that good advertising doesn’t have to be expensive: It can cost next to nothing.

After all, even the funniest or most compelling ad isn’t a good marketing tool if it doesn’t result in increased sales or qualified leads. This is where effective use of social media can be a boon for those trying to save on advertising while trying to boost sales.

Using social media to bolster your marketing efforts doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive or time-consuming. It’s all in how you focus, target and engage.

Here are a few ways to run a cheap social media campaign for your business.

Ads add up—in a good way

You don’t have to go crazy here. Just $25 a month can go a long way when used appropriately. Start small by narrowing your target to a smaller radius (think of one ZIP code or neighborhood), and aim to make an impact.

Aim to make ripples, not waves—at this point you are just trying to test your demographic to make sure you are hitting your targets. Once you establish the best places to fund your efforts, your funds will go further and your impact will be greater.

“Peek” interest

Your day may seem pretty normal to you, but to an outsider who loves your products or services, a little insight into how you make it happen is actually pretty exciting.

Take candid photos and let your followers take a peek into your day, whether you show them your favorite coffee mug, your current source of inspiration, your playlists or glimpses of the next goal in the pipeline. The best part of these posts is that they are completely free; you just have to be yourself.

Stretch your dollar, not your focus

Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest—the list of social media platforms just keeps growing. How can you possibly handle all the varied content, keep it relevant and keep it coming? The answer is easy: You don’t.

You might opt to hire a social media firm that can. Because this post is about saving money, though, here’s what you must remember: The most successful social media campaigns you run are the ones you are most comfortable posting to regularly.

Commit to one or two platforms, update consistently, and have fun. Your passion will come through in your posting, and the rest will come naturally.

Short is sweet

Always remember that people are a lot like you. They don’t have time for paragraphs, they love snippets, and they embrace glimpses. Think in sound bites, vibrant images, short stories and witty quips.

You never know what you can get unless you ask

Want a free focus group? You got it. Engage your fans and followers with quick polls, trivia, random questions, even calls for advice on things as personal as what to have for lunch or as important as what your next product should be.

You never know what you can get until you ask, so ask. The more engaged a customer is in your service or product, the more committed they will be to buying it.

Keep your eyes on the prize

Unlike personal social media accounts, social media for business has a purpose outside the ego (well, usually). Your goal isn’t just to boost morale by filling your basket with “likes.” Your goal is to get your fans and followers to do something—visit your website, order your project, stop by your store, email for the latest coupons, sign up for a seminar, etc.

Watch your toots

You can puff up your chest and toot your own horn on occasion, but do so sparingly. There’s a reason why DVRs are infiltrating American households: No one likes commercials.

The success of your cheap business social media campaign hinges on how many people allow you into their feeds, so be sensitive, informative and engaging. You can be proud of your business and share your success with your fans, just make sure you recognize them as the reason you are successful.

Running an inexpensive social media campaign is not only possible, it can be the easiest thing you ever did for your business. Whatever you do, just get started.

Beth Trejo is founder and CEO at Chatterkick. A version of this article first appeared on iMediaConnection.

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