Word-of-mouth referrals aren’t the only type of free marketing. In the age of social media, you can supplement great recommendations with a no-cost digital marketing strategy — and that’s great news for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
The best part is you don’t need to be an expert in social media or marketing to find success. Most platforms are extremely powerful and offer intuitive in-app analytics features to guide your strategy. Read on to learn how to promote your business for free (or almost nothing) on social media.
Know your audience
The first step in any marketing plan, free or not, is understanding your ideal client and their needs. Who are they, and what are they looking to gain from your business?
Chances are you already know these answers, but you may be less familiar with your target audience’s social media habits. Don’t worry — these insights will come in time as you analyze metrics on your content, and you can tweak your strategy along the way. Before launching a social media campaign, you only need to know where your clients spend time on the internet.
You can usually obtain this knowledge through a quick Google search. For example, a health and wellness coach targeting young people should look to apps that attract a more youthful crowd, like TikTok and Instagram. On the other hand, a business coach working with seasoned professionals should consider marketing on LinkedIn.
Also factor in the type of content you want to share. If you plan to post videos, for example, stick to apps well-suited for that content, such as TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. For written and information-heavy posts, consider LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Just remember: Whatever route you take, the most important rule is to always create high-quality content.
6 free ways to promote your business on social media
Once you’ve pinpointed your target audience, you need to reach them. Any content you upload and promote on social media is a free marketing campaign (other than paid advertisements). Here are six small business advertising ideas you can launch on socials:
- Reward shares: Giveaways, which are particularly popular on Instagram, are a fun way to generate interest in your brand. After all, who doesn’t like free stuff?
In this model, you ask the people who already follow you to spread the word by liking a post detailing a giveaway offer and tagging their friends in order to enter. Thanks to these tags, your account will attract the attention of new people with relevant interests. This simple tactic can dramatically expand your network in just a few days.
- Work with influencers: Strengthen your brand’s presence and legitimacy by working with influencers or brand ambassadors who can reach potential customers. These social media users have a broad reach and audiences who trust their endorsements. Send an influencer a free sample in the hopes they share it on their socials, or ask them to talk up your product in exchange for a referral code that earns them a small commission on each new customer they send your way. This strategy isn’t technically free, but it’s a low-cost way to compensate ambassadors without handing over a paycheck.
- Be valuable: Share inspiring anecdotes, create interesting infographics, or release tutorials related to your product. This type of content is likable and shareable, appealing to most social media platforms’ content algorithms. These uploads also help increase organic traffic, bringing more relevant viewers to your profiles over time. For example, a life coach who posts about improving active listening techniques will come up in related search queries on the app — and someone who’s looking to develop this skill may be interested in the coach’s services.
- Link out to a business website: To make the most of social media marketing, you need a website. Some website builders offer a free version of their product, but others will ask you to pay for your domain name and recurring hosting fees. Whether you put in your time, money, or both, it’s a small investment that goes a long way. A website allows you to turn the traffic you accrue from your free social media strategy into leads and new business. Simply link out to your website in your social media bios and posts so potential customers can quickly track down your services.
- Network: Making new connections doesn't cost a thing. Social media lets you meet new people relevant to your industry without attending networking events. Use platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to contact colleagues and join social circles where your target audience is hanging out. Business connections are valuable. When you support other entrepreneurs with likes and reshares, they’ll likely turn around and help you grow your follower count. You may even gain exposure to their audience by appearing on a podcast episode or guest posting on their accounts.
- Talk to people: With a small business, you have a unique opportunity to show your audience how much you care. Take the time to respond with personalized messages to their DMs. Reply to comments, answer questions, and reshare positive reviews of your content. You never know — potential customers may be swayed by your personal touch.
Be patient and use analytics
There’s no one right way to create brand awareness on social media. Your business is unique, and the only way to learn what works for you is through trial and error. You likely won’t find success right away, but with time and perseverance, your free marketing efforts will turn into follows and conversions.
The best thing you can do is adapt. Use the analytics features on your chosen social media platform to do more of what’s working and cut what isn’t.
For example, if you notice your posts have low engagement at certain times of day, check the dates and times of your most popular posts. Compare your findings to the location of the majority of your audience — you may need to adjust your posting schedule because they live in a different time zone.
Grow your business with Practice
Learning about free online advertising for small businesses online is a valuable tool. But don’t stop there — we have even more to teach you.
Our blog is an excellent resource for professional coaches, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. We teach you even more social media marketing tips, how to hone your client-facing skills, and ways to grow your business.
Plus, our customer relationship management (CRM) tool can help you organize all the leads you bring in through your marketing and growth efforts. Practice’s CRM allows you to safely and securely communicate with clients, file important documents, and receive payments, all in one place.