When deciding whether or not to jump headfirst into the world of social media or digital marketing, you have to consider several factors. Understanding your brand, having content, and determining your budget are all things that can affect the success of your efforts. Money or lack thereof shouldn’t deter anyone from being successful using social media or digital marketing. In fact, sometimes when the right person has to solve a problem with a lack of resources, an incredible amount of creativity can abound. So, yes, digital marketing on a small budget, or even no budget can work if you’re willing to do the work. Below are some suggestions as to how to do this properly.
Posting is Free – Marketing is Not
Posting digital content on social media or digital marketing channels about your business is actually a good place to start. While some of you may think that is a giant waste of time, I want to consider that nothing big rarely starts out big. In fact, most things start small, and grow to be big over time, using the right amount of energy and resources. You may not have the money to hire a graphic designer, produce videos, or put money behind your posts now, but maybe you will one day. The thing to do here is to start. Get something out there in the digital marketing world, be consistent, and get creative on how to get your customers to see your content. Remember, you’ve got to start somewhere.
Community Management – The Free Version of Digital Marketing
Community management is an approach to digital marketing and social media marketing whereby you spend time building relationships on digital platforms like social media sites, with individual users and groups. Some of you might be doing this already from personal social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter, as building relationships with people is a natural human condition. For others, you’ll need to take time and be intentional with your time and approach, just as you would attend a networking event to meet new people in the physical world. I’ve got news for you, the digital version is actually no different. In its most basic form, you start by setting up a personal profile on the social media site you want to market on. You set up an account with your name and job title, post about your life, and connect with people you know. You can take this further by reaching out to people you don’t know, such as a friend of a friend on Facebook or Instagram Your business can also have a digital or social media marketing profile, but usually, these two kinds of accounts are separate. You don’t necessarily need to share aspects about your personal life, but do your best to connect like the real person that you are. While some users may be intrigued with what your business has to say, many will also be enticed by the kind of person you are as an individual. Just like in real life, though, if you want your relationship to grow, you have to spend time and energy making it happen.
It is a connection based on trust, just like any other relationship that will make the difference. The beauty of building trust in the digital space is that it is effortless to share information. So, if you have an old friend or make a new one in the social media world, and someone wants to share information about your business, all they have to do is click a little button and instantly they can share your website, online store, or social media page with their entire digital network. They can also endorse this with a personal message, leveraging the trust they have with individuals in their already-established network. This is why many companies do very well growing their business by focusing on managing their relationships with real people in the digital world.
Digital Networking = Digital Groups on Social Media Channels
Besides one-on-one relationships, another significant aspect of community management is integrating yourself or your business into a group on a social media or digital marketing site. Groups, in whatever form, are gatherings of users centered on a singular, common idea or interest. Most social media platforms have groups in one form or another, and they typically do not cost money to participate in or join. Groups can be about literally anything from classic cars, to gluten-free eating, to ice cream shops in Baltimore, or LGTBQ gardening. They are a great way to find people who might also be interested in what you have to say (or sell). Remember, though, that these groups are gatherings of real people, much like the networking group at your local BNI Chapter. So, no, they are not going to be interested in you just talking about yourself or your business all of the time or spamming them with offers and discounts. Take the time to do networking (and marketing, for that matter) the right way, by being genuine and by adding value to the group or relationship. Don’t just look to add to your bottom line all the time.
Be Yourself (or Your Business) on your Digital Marketing Channels
So, who should you be in the digital marketing or social media world: yourself or your business? That’s for you to decide. Remember, it’s the same decision you have to make when you walk into a party full of people you don’t know, meet your co-workers on the first day of a new job, or go to a networking event where you know absolutely nobody. Typically, the best way to navigate a relatively stressful situation like this is to just be you and to take an interest in other people. Don’t only talk about yourself. However you do it, remember that there is a vast digital world out there full of potential clients and friends. Still, these are all real people, so the only way to build the relationship is to be genuine and intentional about building the relationship. This, and other forms of non-paid, organic digital marketing can be incredibly powerful, and when paired with paid ads (when you’re ready) and a digital marketing strategy, it can produce truly compelling results.