Marketing on social media can seem like a wallet buster for your average startup, but absolutely necessary for the company to grow.
With changing advertising rates and rules on social media sites such as Facebook, there are limited options for startups to advertise on these sites in a budget-friendly way.
The startup needs to grow an army of loyalists who believe in what is being offered, and then the loyalists need to be willing to share their likes, dislikes, and overall thoughts with others.
Here are some cost effective models of advertising that won’t break the bank.
Social media platform advertising programs
Let’s start with the advertising options that the major social media platforms have developed to generate revenue from their business models.
Facebook has led the pack for social media advertising, but has fallen out of favour with many businesses who cannot afford the rising advertising rates and restrictions. Facebook is also falling out of favour with some of it’s own crowd because of said advertising.
Some innovative businesses have found unique ways to still be able to use Facebook without paying significant rates. This tactic includes the planning of events for a business by using the event invitation feature.
Using this event invitation feature gets attention among followers who want to attend the event, and these devoted fans will often share details of the event with friends. As a result of this sharing, the attention is garnered by others on the site who will hopefully see the information and join the event themselves.
The only cost involved is to actually host the live event, which can be online or in person, but this creates a way to offer incentives and rewards through the event without paying for the actual advertising. Even if people cannot make it to the event, they have still seen your company and may look up information about it anyway, out of curiosity.
Pay attention to the social media platforms where the greatest engagement is now occurring with your potential target audience. Forrester Research has concluded that Instagram is one of the best advertising platforms for getting the maximum organic, granular reach for your advertising dollars.
If you have any type of marketing budget as a startup, focus it on the sources where you are likely to get the most attention, including a group of followers who will easily share their adoration with others in a convincing, credible way.
Research will tell you where your audience spends most of their time on social media, whether that is Instagram, LinkedIn, or Facebook, make room and a budget to create small campaigns and test their effectiveness on these traditional channels.
Other advertising avenues
Partnering with others who have their own blogs or who write for review websites is a relatively low-cost social media strategy to employ.
The freelancers behind these popular blogs and online reviews are eager to report on new products and services so they are willing to work for an affordable rate, or simply for a free product that they can use for their article and then keep for their own use.
The benefit to this partnership is that you can get the word about your startup on established blogs that have a significant following who, in turn, may share that blog post about your company with their networks.
This is word-of-mouth-marketing (WOMM) in action and is designed to generate greater results than traditional targeted ads on profile pages. Many startups and small business have completely ignored this phenomena in the past, but can little afford to disregard its benefits now.
Using incentives like sweepstakes or giveaways can be used to reward your customers who talk about your product or services. Plus, you can post your sweepstakes on all your social media sites with a link.
Companies like Rafflecopter provide a way to create an incentive and a giveaway code for something that your audience sees as having real value.
Another low-cost idea to your lower budget/higher yield advertising plan is to apply for business awards. If you are chosen for one of these business awards, you can then market this news on your social media sites, and you can be sure the award organizations’ sites will be spreading this news as well.
These awards include competitions like Entrepreneur of the Year, Red Herring’s Top 100 in North America, and watch for local competitions within your region that are tied to a business publication.
These are either free advertising or may have a minimal fee attached, but this attention will deliver big returns in the promotional value of being recognized by a large organization for your innovation and growth potential.
New social media advertising models
New companies are emerging with unique advertising models that provide a way to mobilize existing followers and a site, and have these followers take the lead on promoting your startup.
For example, Influence Network does this for companies that have multiple locations and want to identify and engage their most loyal followers in each unique location.
Once this mobilization happens, you can reach out to these advocates and share personalized information and content that is meaningful for them, and the information is delivered in a format that allows the site user to easily pass on their interests to others on your behalf.
Essentially, companies like Influence Network are taking the advantages of WOMM to the next level with technology, while using existing social media platforms to advertise your business.
It recognizes and proves that there is influence among your existing followers that can be mined to generate highly valuable publicity.
This is the power of social media truly unleashed, in a way that is affordable and delivers great return on the investment.
While social media platforms are trying to monetize what they do, and you are attempting to gain the most advertising bang for your buck through these platforms, there is a middle ground where you can use the ideas provided here to maximize the effect of social media advertising with the least amount of expenditure to you and your company.