Social Media Marketing Strategies That Cost $0

The sooner you become active on social media, the better — there is so much opportunity, and all it really takes is time and dedication.
Social media marketing allows small businesses to attract new customers and engage with current customers, turning them into repeat customers. It’s a great platform to leverage in order to generate additional revenue for your business, yet many SMB owners shy away from social media because they don’t think they have the budget necessary for an effective campaign.

While things like Facebook ads and paid promotion require monetary investment, there are several ways you can leverage the power of social media without spending any money.

Today, small businesses simply can’t afford to ignore social media. There are several reasons why your business needs social media marketing, with the number one reason being that it’s where your customers are. Facebook has more than 2.19 billion active monthly users and Instagram is rapidly growing, with estimates at close to one-billion users.

The sooner you become active on social media, the better — there is so much opportunity, and all it really takes is time and dedication.

Here are six ways that you can use social media to help grow your small business with zero cost.

Use automation to ensure consistency.
One of the hardest things about social media marketing is being consistent. You can’t post daily for a week and then take a month-long hiatus. You need to develop a posting-schedule and stick to it, whether it’s multiple times daily, once daily, three time per week or even weekly.

Every business will have different requirements in terms of the amount of content they will need to put out on social media. “The easiest way to ensure that you remain consistent is to use automation. There are many tools and pieces of software that will allow you to create a content calendar in advance and schedule Facebook posts, tweets and Instagram posts ahead of time. Spending a couple hours to plan out the next 30-days of social media content helps you maintain a consistent presence across all social media platforms,” advises Anthony Gilbert of The RealFX Group.

There are many paid tools, but for those small businesses on a tight budget, Hootsuite offers a free plan that allows you to manage three social profiles. This is a great choice for those looking to benefit from automation without having to spend any money.

Cross promote with other local businesses.
One of the most effective ways to grow your business is by networking with other business owners. Establishing mutually beneficial ways to promote other local businesses via each other’s social media can help drive instant sales.

“Cross promoting on social media accomplishes a few things. It can help introduce your business to local consumers that might not have known you existed, and it can help spread a special offer by amplifying the reach, helping to drive sales and inject revenue into your business almost instantly,” says Todd Sensing, founder of FamilyVest.

Having other local businesses distribute a coupon code or special offer can drive instant online sales or foot traffic, depending on your offer. Most small businesses will be more than happy to cross-promote as long as you aren’t direct competitors.

Encourage user-generated content.
This is one of the easiest ways to have your current customers promote your business on social media. Every customer has access to a new untapped audience and with a little creativity you can have them introduce your business to them at no cost.

“The easiest way to spark user-generated content is by creating a special hashtag and then asking your customers to use it when posting pictures on social media related to your product or service. Then, constantly search that hashtag and re-post the content, making sure you tag the customer in the re-post,” suggests David Sessford, CEO of Ready Steady Sell.

The concept is very simple, really. Consumers love it when they are singled out and mentioned by a business on social media. As you share more user-generated content on social media it will cause a snowball effect and result in more people using the designated hashtag, as they will also want to be featured on your social media.

Develop a brand voice and engage with your customers.
Social media gives you the opportunity to create a brand voice and engage with those that are seeking the product or service you offer. “Consumers will always choose a business that they connect with. Social media allows you to build that relationship, which instills the trust required for them to move forward and become a customer or client,” says Robert Hamparyan, founder of Hamparyan Injury Lawyers.

Social media is where most consumers will turn to when they have a question or want to research a business. If they see an active social media presence that is constantly engaging with its customers it makes them more confident as a consumer, knowing that questions, if they arise down the road, will be answered. Every small business should have a Facebook business page, and Twitter and Instagram are also must-have social media profiles.

Analyze each platform’s analytical data and adjust accordingly.
There are analytics available to you for all social media platforms, and when utilized correctly they enable you to really improve your marketing efforts.

“Facebook business accounts provide a tremendous amount of analytical data, as do business profiles on Instagram, and Twitter also gives you access to useful information. When you take the time to actually understand the data, it can help you focus on what is working and eliminate what isn’t leading to sales. While it can be overwhelming at first, you need to dive in and make yourself familiar with each platform’s analytics dashboard. Spend time to self-educate yourself and you will see your social media marketing results skyrocket,” says Jeremy Skillings of You Can Be Found.

When you get the hang of social analytics, you can then tie in your Google Analytics and create goals, which you can then track back to your social media traffic. For example, you might discover that Facebook is responsible for 80 percent of your social media generated sales, while Twitter isn’t generating anything. By putting more of your focus on Facebook and eliminating Twitter, you can scale your growth simply by focusing on what is working.

Make all team members part of your internal social media team.
Not every small business has the luxury of a full-time social media manager, but that doesn’t mean you can’t handle the task in-house. “Create a social media ‘take-over’ calendar, and assign the responsibility to a different team member daily. Not only does this keep your social media accounts active, but it also gets everyone involved and helps to create a much stronger team environment,” suggests Tim Johnson of Inkfactory.com.

You can even create internal contests, awarding prizes to those that generate the most shares, likes, comments or even sales. This helps to spark creativity, and the end result is stronger social media content.

Jonathan Long is the founder of Market Domination Media, a brand development agency, OMG Logo, a logo and branding agency, blerrp, an online community for entrepreneurs and consumer brands Sexy Smile Kit and Sexy Gummies.

How do you know what to post on social media? PTi can help. Your Marketing Pro will create a social media strategy for you — so you can get back to business. Get started now!

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