Sumit Sharma

As a social media strategist, I’ve encountered the misconception that you need a lot of money to have a social presence and promote content effectively. It helps to have deep pockets, but I’ve found that you don’t need an extremely large budget to distribute your content and start a successful social marketing campaign. Companies come to the table with varying levels of resource and still drive results.

There are things you can do to get a social strategy off the ground no matter what your starting point is. Here’s what I would recommend to get your content in front of the right audience, if:

  1. You have no time and no money
  2. You have time, but no money
  3. You have time AND money

If you have no time and no money…

Even if you don’t have five minutes to spare a day, you have options for distribution. You can automate your blog content onto social networks through Hootsuite. It’s a tool that pushes your articles live across networks as soon as they’re published with an RSS feed (which requires setup).

However, you should treat automation as a last alternative if you have no time or money. It pulls the headlines directly into posts, and this approach doesn’t generate as much engagement as creating unique social content.

If you have time, but no money…

If you do have a few minutes to spare a day, you should try to build an organic social media presence that will enable you to distribute your content strategically.

1. Create pages based on your industry

If you’re a B2B, I’d recommend targeting Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. If you’re a B2C, I’d suggest Facebook and Pinterest.

2. Share your content! (And get your employees to share it)

If you have the time to distribute the content yourself, you should. Custom social content always performs better than automating it because it looks natural, and it’s generally more valuable.

And if you can really dedicate some time to this, you should strive to make the headlines a little more interesting. Try pulling a quote from the article to feature in a Tweet or sharing a compelling statistic or fact. Bringing the most interesting information to the surface gives users even more reasons to click.

3. Join communities and forums that are industry related

Try engaging in group discussions or communities. If you’re a B2B, join industry-related forums on LinkedIn and Google+, but be smart about it.

In discussions: Build trust with valuable contributions first, and then slowly start sharing your content when – and only when – it makes sense.

Do: Join the conversation, build trust with valuable contributions and then slowly start sharing your content when – and only when – it makes sense. Most of these groups give notifications, so you’ll know when someone else has responded to your post.

Don’t: Spam the conversations with promotional messages or links. You will get kicked out.

4. Participate in discussions

Talk to people on social networks in addition to sharing. Respond to other users’ posts, especially if they’re in your area of expertise. This gets you in the right conversations with influential people and builds followers.

5. Get a little bit more exposure by budgeting for social

If you have some money to spend, it’s worth it to invest in a broader social strategy that’s consistent and focused on your goals. It’s easy to get lost in the noise on fast-moving sites, which is why you need an ongoing campaign that keeps your company at the surface of breaking conversations. Sharing content optimized for social is key to catching users’ eyes.

6. Create contests/sweepstakes

Another way to build your presence is to hold a contest or sweepstakes. You don’t have to give away crazy prizes, like a new car. It could be something smaller, like a free trial to your service or samples of products you carry. And it doesn’t cost too much to run the campaign itself because you can use third party apps such as WooBox to create Facebook contests for as low as $15 to $30, based on the number of fans you are trying to reach.

7. Email blasts

Email is another great way to stay in contact with your target audience and get your messages in front of prospects and customers. If you have a good piece of content, like an infographic, you should send it in an email blast or package it in a newsletter. This guarantees your resources reach the intended viewers and have an opportunity to make an impact.

If you have time and money…

If you have resources to dedicate to social media marketing, I would recommend building an organic strategy AND exploring paid options for extra exposure.

For about $100 a month, you can get decent traction on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter using paid ad options to boost your organic efforts.

For about $100 a month, you can get decent traction on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter using paid ad options to boost your organic efforts. Twitter is the best option for B2Bs, in my opinion.

*LinkedIn is the most expensive channel, charging businesses about $5 a click on ads, so your content has to be good and it has to be highly-targeted to be worth the spend. It’s not the best for budget concerns, but it has the most specific targeting options for B2Bs.

Overall, Facebook is the best paid network. In fact, it’s primarily paid-only right now. Most companies are getting no organic traction after the network updated its algorithm to restrict brand content reach, so there is less benefit if you’re not boosting your posts.

There’s no excuse not to use social

The worst thing you can do is ignore social media, because it’s already the norm for businesses. Regardless of your budget and time restrictions, there are ways you can get started on a strong foundation and drive results for your business.

So how are you planning to use social to promote your content?