Small Business Social Media on a Shoestring Budget

Social media is big business, and if your business wants to really succeed then there’s a good chance you’ll need some sort of a social media presence.

Unfortunately, big social media pushes can cost big money. If you’re running a small business, you may not be able to afford a full social media marketing team like big corporations have. You need to make a big impact in the social media world without spending a lot of money.

Fortunately, it’s possible to have a solid social media presence on a shoestring budget. While it may not be as easy as just writing a check to a top marketing agency and letting them handle it, the end result may end up much more personal and really help you to build a bond with your customers.

Determine Your Social Media Needs

There are a lot of social media options out there, but not every business has a need for each and every one of them.

If you don’t have much to spend on social media marketing, it’s important to prioritize the social platforms where your business will make the largest impact.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are likely your biggest must-haves. Instagram can also be important if your business stocks a lot of unique items or you produce original artwork, but it isn’t as important for some other business types. You should similarly evaluate other platforms to see how well they fit your business needs, as this will let you focus on where you can make the biggest impression.

Scope of Your Campaign

Before you spend a penny, create a page or open an account, take some time and think about how you’d like your business to operate on social media.

Will you want frequent posts, less-frequent announcements or weekly updates? Do you want to cater to Facebook first and foremost, live in the Twitterverse or balance your activity across multiple platforms? A bit of planning upfront can save you time and money later.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to plan out every post you make in advance. You do need to have an idea of how active you want your business to be on social media, though. This is especially important if you’re hiring someone to manage your social media presence, since the more active you want your accounts to be the more you’ll have to pay for the service.

Type of Content

While you’re planning post frequency and the overall scope of your social media campaign, you should also think about the types of content you want to include in your posts.

Do you want to go for a formal voice or something more casual? Will you have giveaways and discounts, or will your posts be strictly informative? Will you need any custom pictures or similar content for your posts, or will everything be strictly text or images of stock?

As with posting frequency, these are decisions that can drive up the cost of your social media campaigns. Even if you’re doing giveaways of items you have in stock, that’s still one less item you can sell so you’ll have to consider it a cost of advertising.

The good news is that a lot of the costs associated with social media content are tax deductible as business expenses (but be sure to check with your accountant or a certified tax professional to find out which ones).

Adding Social Interaction

There’s more to having an effective social media presence than just posting occasionally.

If you really want to build brand loyalty, you’ll need to have your business responding to messages and interacting with customers on your social media pages. The amount of interaction you have is up to you, and can range from a few responses per day to frequent quips and other interactions throughout the day.

A high level of interaction is a good thing, as it makes your page fun for visitors and really gives both current and potential customers a feeling that you care about your customer base. Like most things, however, there’s a trade off in the form of higher costs (of both time and money) for greater amounts of interaction.

To Hire or Not to Hire?

Again, it’s possible to hire someone to manage your social media campaigns and keep things rolling along with little to no interaction from you.

Unfortunately, this can be kind of pricey… especially if you want to have very active accounts. The alternative is to do the work in house, but that still requires you or someone else to post online and manage your community instead of doing other work.

Doing it yourself is the most budget-friendly option, but keep in mind that there’s a lot more to effective social media marketing than just posting on Facebook every now and then. Hiring a social media manager gets you experience and frees up your time, but you have to pay for that convenience.

This may be the biggest decision that you have to make regarding your business and its social media presence, so take the time to consider what’s best for your budget and your business as a whole.