How to begin social media marketing with no budget

marketing with no budget

By Kiki Schirr, {grow} Contributing Columnist

In many new businesses, especially startups, there isn’t a large budget for social media marketing. Perhaps you’re looking at marketing with no budget at all! While it’s easy to see that marketing a new product is vital when a company is bootstrapping it is probably wise to put that money into research first. Making sure that the customer needs what you’re building (and that you’re building what they need) comes first.

So what’s a good social media marketer to do?

Social media marketing with no budget

Unlike many forms of advertising, social media marketing does not strictly require a large budget. Much like the speed/budget/quality triangle of construction, where you can only choose two options at a time, social media has a similar scope. It’s possible to sacrifice time in order to produce quality content on a budget.

Instead of purchasing ads or hiring outside content creators, look inward to your existing team for content and to newsletters, podcasts, and even magazines for earned media coverage.

Budget content

One great way to create content for your social media outlets that is both engaging and authentic is to turn the channel over to your employees. Take photos of your workspace, discuss what you’re building, explain your challenges, and even vent about frustrations–as long as the frustrations aren’t the customer!

Use Instagram for still photos, IGTV and YouTube for videos 2 minutes or longer, and Twitter for short quips and fun jokes. LinkedIn is still promoting video in a major way. Don’t forget that it’s a great venue to share your company’s story!

Budget authority

One of the best ways to prove your company’s authority on a subject is to highlight industry greats and customers. By interviewing potential users of your product and/or subject matter experts your company can establish itself as a leader in the field.

Consider using the recording app Anchor to create ultra-easy podcasts. For vlogs, tools as simple as iMovie and your iPhone will suffice. If you choose to be text-based, start a blog on WordPress, Tumblr, or Ghost.

Budget PR

One of the more time-intensive activities for any company is acquiring positive earned media exposure. Public relations is a difficult, laborious job that most companies do and should farm out to experts.

However, if your company is building something amazing and can’t afford a PR firm, don’t despair. With some effort and earnestness, your company can find its new niche as well.

There are a few key things to remember, though:

  1. Find friendly faces- Don’t bother reaching out to writers that don’t seem friendly. If a reporter, podcaster, or blogger thinks you’re boring, you’re less likely to change their mind than to annoy them. Do both them and your company a favor and seek out writers that think your company is cool.
  2. Don’t deluge those friendly faces- When you do find a friendly face, only reach out for one reason–that you know or have something that would benefit them. And the first few times you reach out with a helpful tip it shouldn’t be about your company!
  3. Build a great story- The best articles start as compelling stories. If you’ve done something cool at your company, don’t look at it as a lone achievement, build it out as a story. Maybe your CEO is attempting to right a wrong she experienced in her childhood, or your product has changed the lives of one of its users in a startling way. Find something about your company that has a hero’s story arc, and you’ll be article gold.

Additional budget resources

  • Product Hunt– a free listing site for new products that can propel your company to new heights
  • BetaList– a similar listing site, but for products prior to launch
  • Accelerators and Incubators- programs like Y Combinator and the newly-announced Backstage Accelerator offer guidance and free resources for new companies

If you have any additional guidance or resources for small companies on a tight budget, please feel free to share your input in the comments. I look forward to hearing your suggestions and hope this list helps!

KikiSchirrKiki Schirr is a freelance marketer and author who recently relocated from San Francisco to Blacksburg, Virginia. Kiki enjoys absorbing the tech scene and current trends. You can contact her easily through Twitter.

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