5 Ways to Get More Bang for Your Social Media Buck

Opinion: Don’t drain your budget on a strategy that might not work

Some companies are spending up to $20,000 every month trying to make sense out of social media marketing keeweeboy/iStock

In today’s marketing landscape, social media seems like a no-brainer choice for your advertising dollars. With seven out of 10 Americans having social media accounts and often spending more than two hours per day scrolling through their feeds, social media marketing is simply the most efficient way to reach the largest amount of people.

But that doesn’t mean your social media efforts are helping you meet your goals.

Some companies are spending up to $20,000 every month trying to make sense out of social media marketing, and that outlay doesn’t always yield the desired return on investment. While most brands know it’s important to make connections on social, you don’t want to drain your entire marketing budget on a strategy that might not work.

Throwing money at sponsored ads may be an enticing approach, but it’s not exactly cost-effective. Singling out a paid social strategy can blind you to the unique opportunities inherent in social media platforms. By expressing authenticity and exhibiting content that reflects your identity as a brand, you can bring more organic traffic to your page and build an audience that’s more likely to connect with your product, service and mission.

Looking for surefire ways to improve on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more without setting your wallet on fire? Here are a few tips to up your game on a lighter budget:

Take a bite of humble pie

Heartfelt messages, emotional pleas and self-deprecating confessions are all common in social media posts, where many users leverage the platform to reach out to friends and loved ones. In its way, social media gives brands the flexibility to do the same, expressing ideas with honesty and showing self-awareness.

Newcastle Brown Ale has taken this approach with its accounts and found great success. Already known for its “no bollocks” messaging, the company gently mocked itself for not having the budget to produce an ad for the 2014 Super Bowl. Instead, the company distributed its storyboard on social, winning recognition for lovingly satirizing the overproduced style of standard Super Bowl ads.

Brands can even go meta, as Moon Pie did. In a 2017 tweet, the company’s social media account owner confessed to having accidentally liked a picture from another snack brand. The post was self-effacing and adorable, endearing readers to the humanity of the company and increasing engagement as a result.

Try Stories on for size

There’s not too much cash at stake in the social story game, but there is a huge audience to be reached. You can create and post video at no cost and with little time investment—no media agency required.

Facebook Stories, in particular, offer a lot of exposure, and brands haven’t really delved into this feature yet. “I see Facebook Stories like California’s mines and creeks before the 1849 gold rush,” says Bud Torcom, co-founder and CEO of Mazama Media. “Its slow takeoff is precisely what makes its potential payoff so great: Imagine if one brand were the only corporate entity in the Stories section for thousands of users. It would enjoy tremendous organic reach for free.”

Facebook’s Snapchat equivalent now boasts over 150 million daily users, making it a fantastic jumping-off point for connecting with users. And because it is not yet as popular with businesses, you’ll have less noise to break through to gain users’ attention.

Reboot your evergreen content

It takes time and effort to create a valuable post, and the shelf life of a single one may be limited. However, if the post isn’t tied to a specific point in history, there’s no reason why it can’t be repurposed and redistributed after enough time has passed.

Try keeping a list of all content you produce under this “evergreen” designation, and occasionally rotate valuable older posts back in alongside the new content you produce. By keeping a clear record of when you last reposted your evergreen content, you can avoid complaints of repetition without having to constantly create new posts.

Ask, and you will receive

If you want to boost your accounts and encourage new, enthusiastic brand advocates, why not leverage the brand advocates you already have? Send out a call for user-generated content and highlight the work of your passionate existing audience.

UGC is a win on all sorts of levels. First, the cost to the company is practically nil, as the heavy lifting falls to your fans. Second, calls for content via contests or promotions encourage more active engagement and sharing on your channels. Finally, you can initiate word-of-mouth marketing from those best equipped to sing your praises.

Use data to make content personal and shareable

As long as you’re asking people to share under your banner, you might as well give them some ammo. By making your content bite-sized and emotionally resonant, you massively increase the likelihood that your content will be shared.

Spotify is a prime example of this technique in action. The company got plenty of press last winter, when it used its listening data to craft personalized, shareable posts for each user detailing their end-of-year listening habits. The feature first quizzed users on their favorite artists and then challenged them to share their results on social media.

There are innumerable ways to utilize social media beyond sponsored posts. Instead, show the humanity behind your brand to build authentic connections and make a truly social bond with your audience.

Chirag Kulkarni is chief marketing officer of digital pharmacy Medly, and he has helped companies like Expedia with digital marketing.