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Zero Cost Marketing – Can You Promote Your Business For Free? Part 4: Social Media

Zero Cost Marketing - Promote Your Business For Free, Part 4

This post will discuss how you can use social media to promote your business at no direct cost.

This is Part 4 of our series “Zero Cost Marketing”, where we suggest ways you can promote your business with little to no budget. If you want to start at the beginning read Zero Cost Marketing Part 1 – Discounts & Samples.

Since every business has different attributes and needs, the suggestions are presented in no order of preference. Some will be more relevant to your business than others. We’ll leave it to you to decide.

Getting straight to it, our fourth suggestion for low-cost business promotion is:

4. Shine On Social Media

A little bit of history:

In February 2004, a student at Harvard University replaced a paper-based student information system with an online platform. The Student’s name was Mark Zuckerberg and he called the platform The Facebook. It was adopted eagerly first by students then the public in 2006 and is now the the world’s biggest social media platform.

However Facebook was by no means the first social media platform. It was preceded by Bolt and Six Degrees, created in 1997, and by the very popular Friendster (2002) and MySpace (2003). In spite of its later arrival, Facebook was able to overtake its predecessors by 2009. The reasons for this are much discussed. It seems that Six Degrees, in particular, simply arrived when the world was not yet ready for it. Whereas Facebook’s main competitor, MySpace, suffered from excessive advertising, slow load times and lack of innovation regarding its features. Facebook’s use of real names was also a key differentiator. Many people are happy to publish information about their lives online without the protection of a screen name.

Although Facebook has managed to stay ahead of the competition, in 2023 we are surrounded by popular social media platforms including Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and TikTok, with new ones constantly emerging. They usually cost nothing to join and while some, such as Facebook, do offer paid ads, it is free to post.

It follows that social media platforms are a good place to promote your business. Though they started as places for individuals to interact with friends and share photos and updates, their popularity and huge memberships mean that with a business page, you can reach a vast audience. And around 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on references on social media.

So social media platforms is number 4 on our list of great ways to promote your business for free.

A network of interconnected people represents social media's huge reach

What Should You Post On Social Media?

The answer is both very vague and very specific. It’s “what your target audience wants to see”. You need to have a clear understanding of who your audience is and consider what will attract them. And that can be very different from business to business.

For example, a hardware retailer might publish links to How-To guides or videos for common DIY tasks, or publicise an upcoming sale of seasonal products. Whereas a footcare clinic may post about the best shoes for foot health, how to ease foot pain, or give a recipe for all-natural home made foot balm.

Related: Zero Cost Marketing Part 3 – Write A Blog

Nevertheless, there are a set of general guidelines which can steer your social media posting. You should:

  • address your audience’s interests or pain points
  • post on the platforms which your target audience uses
  • encourage their engagement by inviting them to comment on posts or ask questions
  • show you are listening and are responsive by replying to their comments
  • post regularly – if readers enjoy a post but return to find no updates for a period, they are liable to go elsewhere
  • vary your format – if possible, include different media types such as photos and videos

If you are able to collaborate with online influencers, this can be a good way to boost your following, but remember, there will have to be an obvious benefit in it for them, such as content for their channel or publicity.

What Social Media Platforms Are Best to Promote Your Business?

The answer is another “it depends…”. Different platforms will be more or less useful to you depending on the nature of your business. But here are the ones we consider most useful:

  1. Facebook (of course!) – It’s not only vastly popular (2.99 billion users in Q1 of 2023), it’s also very flexible. You can post text, pictures, video, and website links. Users can comment on your posts and you can reply to them. Furthermore you can create groups to facilitate communication. Facebook posts are a good way to point readers to your latest blog posts – you may be here for exactly that reason – and to specific areas of content.
  2. Twitter – With a 280 character limit, tweets must be fairly short. And because Twitter is so busy the trending page changes fast and your tweet will quite quickly be superseded by more recent tweets. That means that this platform is best used for brief items such as industry news or product updates. You can upload images, videos and designed content such as posters. The motto “keep it short and sweet” applies here as concise posts are usually more successful for shareable content. Remember to use appropriate hashtags so your tweets can reach those following the relevant subject.

With many social media platforms to choose from, you can focus on those best suited to your needs.

Logos of social media platforms - there are many to choose from to promote your business
  1. LinkedIn – With its professional focus, LinkedIn has a more serious tone. It’s best suited for work-related posting including changes to your own business, updates on industry trends or insights. If yours is a B2B business you can announce product developments and promotions and share case studies or content of interest to other professionals and businesses. It’s also a good place to announce awards and new certifications.
  2. Instagram – If you have a physical product or one where visuals are important, Instagram might work well for you. Eye-catching images can draw attention and explain features in a way text often cannot and you can upload short videos to Instagram Stories or Reels. There are a constantly increasing range of ways that you can interact with viewers to increase engagement including quiz stickers, shoppable stickers, polls and emoji sliders. Like Twitter, Instagram uses hashtags so remember to use the relevant ones. To help your local discoverability, you can add a geo-tag to your stories or add a location to your post.

Related: Zero Cost Marketing Part 1 – Discounts & Samples

Final Thoughts

Social media platforms can be a great place to boost your brand presence at zero cost. The most suitable for you will depend on the nature of your business. It’s important to remember to keep a broadly consistent style and tone of voice across the different platforms you use, as well as across your company messaging more generally. To do this, you will need to have a clear understanding of your target audience and their characteristics so you can communicate in a way that resonates with them. And, if more than one person will be creating your posts, consider a clear style guide to ensure that posts use the same terminology, tone, and voice.

We hope you enjoyed this post. If you found it useful, please feel free to share it or leave a comment. Or take a look at our other posts.

If there’s anything you’d like to discuss with us don’t hesitate to get in touch. An initial chat is free and without obligation.

Sources include:

A Brief History Of Facebook

5 Of The Top Social Media Networks Before Facebook

The Evolution of Social Media: From Six Degrees to Facebook and Beyond

How Many Users Does Facebook Have?

Former MySpace CEO explains why Facebook was able to dominate social media despite coming second

The Science Behind Social Networking And Why MySpace Lost To Facebook

What Happened To Friendster? 4 Reasons Why It Failed

The Rise And Fall – What Happened To Friendster

The History Of Social Media – Search Engine Journal

Then and now: a history of social networking sites

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