Wayne Flemming – founder and CEO at Valiant – says in an always-on, always-connected social media-saturated world, your small to medium-sized business brand is not only competing with the competition for brand dominance, but you are competing for attention in a very cluttered environment of content and big brand messages.
You are competing with the world’s biggest brands and the world’s biggest brands’ budgets on the world’s biggest stage. It is like being told ‘Guess what? You are performing at the Olympics Opening Ceremony tomorrow and you have budget for a… guitar or a tambourine.’
Businesses realise that social media marketing is a quick and effective form of brand marketing, so it is common for small to medium-sized businesses and brands to have high expectations when it comes to social media marketing but not allocating the time to plan and budget. The truth is, like the example above, it is about making the most of the opportunity, by being smart, targeted and creative.
Lego’s Social Media global director Lars Silberbauer’s advice on creativity within social media is ‘Don’t invest money… invest yourself!’ According to him, it is apparent when thought has gone into a campaign compared to when shortcuts have been made; an audience recognises this and will respond more positively to a well thought out concept. Why? Because at its core, social media satisfies the creative human’s need to share in an accessible and rewarding way.
Creativity and insight does not come overnight. It does not come from doing the same thing over and over again. It comes from trying new things and learning from those experiences. The main investment when it comes to social media marketing is your time and effort needed to generate and publish good quality content that your followers can engage with.
Learn from the best. When you are low on cash, it pays to devote some time each day to research social media knowledge hubs and best practices from the experts to expand your knowledge and get ideas that you can tailor for your business.
But what about the tools you need to create your great creative campaign? In the social-multi-media world we live in, creating quality video, graphic, animation or photo content from scratch can be very expensive. So the big question is: What’s free but still reflects a quality depiction of your brand?
It is increasingly common to invite your community to create with you. User-generated content is authentic content created by users about a brand, business or product. It can be a very effective social media strategy because even people who like your brand may be sceptical to endorse it – in fear of being ‘that friend’ who spams – but most people will gladly share, comment and like other ‘real’ people’s content. So get your community involved and encourage them to create content around your brand. This is particularly popular on Instagram.
Also use free image libraries. Quality content that portrays the quality of a brand is dependent on quality images. Photoshoots can be expensive but so too are stock libraries. Before you take out your mobile phone and desk lamp, look up alternatives like Pexels. Use high quality and completely free stock photos that are nicely tagged, searchable and easy to discover on the site.
Once you have created and crafted your content, you will want to share it and make the most of every post you have dedicated so much of yourself to. But when do you share and how often? How is your community interacting with your content and for how long?
You do not only need free or affordable tools to craft your content and make it stand out but also tools to help you schedule your content, automate the process of publishing and analyse how people are interacting with your content. After all, that is how you will learn what works and what does not. Then keep some budget available for boosting and promoting your content. The good news is that there are many affordable and free tools that help you streamline your social media marketing efforts.